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Public Lecture: Professor Rosie Parnell

Lecture Theatre 011, Design Building


Professor Rosie Parnell, Postgraduate Director, Faculty of Engineering and Environment

Architecture as Process - Learning From Children

Refreshments will be available from 6.00pm.



The so-called ‘participation articles’ of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child have led to many attempts to elicit the voices of children, though it is widely argued that their impact is rarely felt. Decision-making typically being an adult privilege and responsibility, it is perceived that children’s voices are often, ultimately, rendered void. Yet, formal, hierarchical frameworks for participation are known to be resisted and challenged by children. Though often played down or dismissed as unworthy of attention by adults, children assert their presence through opportunism, cajolery, negotiation and humour. Under Colin Ward’s anarchistic gaze, children employ tactics to make visible and enact their overlooked agendas, appropriating space with playful and creative resourcefulness, turning it into an ‘adventure playground’. That children play the system and participate in the margins of societal structures, challenges normative understandings of design participation as a formalised and inclusive process.

In her lecture, Professor Parnell examines architecture as process and asks what can be learned from the ways in which children have been observed to interact with spatial designers, with the design process and with the on-going everyday processes of making spaces. Drawing on her research with architects, landscape architects, teachers, youth workers, and a range of NGOs, she will identify the opportunities that arise for addressing the collective process of architecture more widely.

About the Speaker

Rosie Parnell is a Professor in the Department of Architecture and Built Environment and the Postgraduate Director for her Faculty. Rosie’s research, teaching and practice combine interests in children’s spaces, design process, participation and architecture education. She has delivered projects and lectures internationally on these topics and supported major organisations and small NGOs with associated research, training and development - most recently as a member of the American Institute of Architect’s Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Research Task Force.
Rosie began working with children and young people as education manager at an environmental regeneration charity in the UK. She brought this experience back to academia, pursuing a range of outreach and research activities with schools and youth groups which led to a focus on children’s participation in spatial and educational design. Her research has been supported by the EPSRC, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Leverhulme Trust. Rosie has a wide range of teaching experience at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. She taught at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture from 1998 until 2015 when she joined Northumbria. She received the University of Sheffield Senate Award for her teaching and a prestigious teaching fellowship at the Technical University Berlin.

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Event Details

Lecture Theatre 011, Design Building
City Campus East
Northumbria University


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