The Bartlett School of Architecture


Daniel Ovalle Costal

Image: Disobedient Dollhouse No.1, 2023, Photography by Sophie Percival.


A Canon of Queer Domesticity: Design Fabulations

First and second supervisors


This thesis explores the critical potential of architects’ toolkits to re-design domesticity as a space of inclusion for sexual and gender diverse people. This project will engage with the ongoing debate around homonormativity in queer studies and deploy a queer design toolkit to explore how the nuanced politics of the home are spatialised. My research will develop a comparative framework to test the historic and cultural contingency of homonormativity, exploring queer domesticities in present day London and Barcelona. 

Scholarship on queer space has historically prioritised public and commercial spaces, from ‘gaybourhoods’ to night clubs. Domestic spaces have historically received less attention and have often been framed as sites of normalising power. This is despite the richness of feminist critiques of domesticity as a key agent in the construction and reproduction of gender and sexuality. Some scholars have since problematised this reading of home and argued for more nuanced understandings of domesticity. 

This thesis takes a transdisciplinary approach to domesticity, acknowledging that a wide and diverse range of forms of knowledge is required to explore its nuances. This includes the design practice of dollhouse-making, rooted in architectural design methods but also in toy-making and other forms of craft; as well as qualitative research methods, developed in relation to queer critiques of ethnography. 

Co-design workshops will aim to decentre the architect in the design process and re-situate them as a facilitator of participants’ domestic utopias. Dollhouses will assist this process, facilitating design fabulations between participants and designer. This research situates fabulations as utopian constructions related to everyday experience, spaces, and rituals, thus surfing the binary between the quotidian and the fantastic. This thesis argues that dollhouses have the ability to project queer futures into everyday spaces, and explores the role of dollhouses as disobedient objects, which enable critiques of architecture’s disciplinary conventions, and thus of the spaces and aesthetics of normative domesticity. 

Ultimately, this thesis aims to develop a queer set of design methods that can be used to produce domestic prototypes to demonstrate new spatial, ethical, and aesthetic horizons for queer inclusive design.


Daniel is an architect trained between Spain and the UK. He works as a sole practitioner in London where he has led commercial and mixed-use projects across many sectors while working for Wilkinsone Eyre and Acme. Since 2018 he is also a Lecturer (Teaching) at The Bartlett School of Architecture where he co-runs Unit 22 in the Architecture MArch (ARB/RIBA Part 2) and Unit 4 in the Engineering and Architectural Design MEng programmes. He also co-leads the London School of Architecture’s Design Think Tanks. 

Daniel’s research interests lay at the intersection of architectural design, domesticity, and queer studies. He has a special interest in forms of making that relate to popular culture, Including dollhouses, miniatures, paper theatres, and pop-up books. 

Image:  Disobedient Dollhouse No.1, 2023, Photography by Sophie Percival.