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Sebastian Messer

Senior Lecturer

Department: Architecture and Built Environment

Sebastian studied architecture at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art, at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, and took his professional examination at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, Newcastle University. Following this, he worked full-time in architectural practice while also teaching part-time at Birmingham City, Newcastle, and Northumbria Universities before joining Northumbria University full-time as a Senior Lecturer.

Sebastian is programme leader for the Master of Architecture (RIBA Part 2) course. With Stephen Roberts, Sebastian oversaw the introduction of ‘vertical studios’ in 2018-9, and with Jiayi Jin, he led the Performing Architectures studio, reimagining the High Street condition. From September 2020 he instigated the Material Poetics studio to investigate provenance, assemblage, and entropy in the Anthropocene.

Sebastian has been an External Examiner at La Facultad de Arquitectura, Urbanismo y Artes (FAUA-UNI), Lima, Peru. He currently shares the RIBA North East council role of Advocate for Education and Research with Matthew Margetts (EDable Architecture), and he represents architecture in the Northumbria Practice Research Group.

His recent works have been in collaboration with artist, Jessica Dolby (BALTIC Centre of Contemporary Art, 2021), and with Steve Newby, fullblOwn Ltd., and architect Taylor Grindley (Kielder Art & Architecture, ongoing).

Sebastian Messer

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

Sebastian’s teaching and research are collaborative and interdisciplinary. His PhD, the first in Practice Research submitted to the Faculty of Engineering and Environment, drew on 10 year’s participatory work with groups of young people about their uses of The City, in collaboration with Mike Jeffries (Geography, Northumbria University), Jon Swords (University of York), Christine Egan-Fowler (Newcastle Royal Grammar School), the Holy Biscuit Gallery/ Shieldfield Art Works, as well as numerous curators and artistic directors, artists, past and current MArch students, arts and heritage organisations, and schools in the North East of England.

Sebastian co-founded archiGRAD to undertake ‘live’ and self-instigated projects in the wake of the 2008 Atlantic Banking Crisis. Between 2010 and 2013 he mentored 120+ graduates from architecture and related disciplines in 30 projects.

His research is concerned with Spatial Practices, both the role of the architecture profession and the ‘lived’ experience of the everyday; narrative design; design fictions and imaginaries; and Practice Research. He defines his own career role as an architect whose mode of practise currently is principally through academia.

MArch students’ dissertations Sebastian has supervised are concerned with the Right to the City; the nature of heritage; ruins and ruination; science fiction, dystopias, and imaginaries; and often use participatory and visual research methods.

Sebastian has supervised three PhDs – one to completion as second supervisor, and one as principal supervisor is ongoing. He welcomes PhD applications for both Practice Research and by dissertation.

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Mapping the City: participatory mapping with young people, Swords, J., Jeffries, M., East, H., Messer, S. 1 Nov 2019, In: Geography
  • "Where does Facebook live?" Mapping identities in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, Messer, S., Swords, J., Jeffries, M. 4 Sep 2017, Architecture Connects, London, UK, Oxford Brookes University
  • An Incomplete Taxonomy of Urban Archetypes, Messer, S. 23 Jun 2016, O.F.F. - Oslo Flaneur Festival 2016
  • en_counter, Jeffries, M., Messer, S., Swords, J. 13 May 2016
  • Mapping The City Exhibition, Swords, J., Jeffries, M., Messer, S. 22 Oct 2016
  • He Catches Things in Flight: Scopic Regimes, Visuality and Skateboarding in Tyneside, England, Jeffries, M., Swords, J., Messer, S. 26 Oct 2015, Skateboarding: Subcultures, Sites and Shifts, London, Taylor & Francis
  • Mapping the City: an exhibition of young people’s maps, Swords, J., Jeffries, M., Messer, S. 23 Oct 2015
  • The GRAD programme: Live project peer enablement, Messer, S. 12 May 2014, Architecture Live Projects, Taylor & Francis
  • The G.R.A.D. Programme: Live Project Peer Enablement, Messer, S. 2014, Architecture Live Projects: Pedagogy into Practice, London, Taylor & Francis

PGR Supervision

Eliza Sweeney Inner Landscapes, Outer Landscapes, building possible futures. The paradigm and practice of applied architecture and eco-scenography as tools to support community, health and wellbeing in the face of global crises. Start Date: 01/10/2021


  • Architecture PhD August 04 2020
  • Architecture BArch (Hons) June 30 1996
  • Education PCAPL
  • Architecture PGDip
  • Architecture PGDip
  • Fellow (FHEA) Higher Education Academy (HEA) 2015

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