The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Penelope Haralambidou

Dr Penelope Haralambidou

Senior Lecturer

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
23rd Sep 1996

Research summary

In the centre of Haralambidou’s research lies the conviction that architectural thinking and the tools of the architect – drawings, models, writings – constitute an epistemology of space that includes, but also expands beyond, the construction of the build environment. Alongside textual analysis she has consistently employed architectural drawing and model-making as investigatory tools to analyse ideas and work, not only in architecture, but also the politics of vision, fine art and cinema. Below are some of the main strands of her research:

Stereoscopic Veil: A distinct area of her research involves the study of optics, perspective and visuality. She sees cultural constructs of vision as a substructure for spatial thinking and an underlying syntax for architectural representation, while recognising that technologies of vision and representational systems also influence the way we 'see'. The focus of the investigation is split into three main inter-related stands: (a) Stereoscopy, binocular vision and the forgetting of the 'other' eye (b) contemporary surveying and measuring technologies, such as stereo-photogrammetry, remote sensing and 3D scanning (c) development of three-dimensional projection techniques through anaglyphic, 3D film, and split projection.

Allegory and Figural Theory: Allegory is literary and artistic trope that uses narrative to say one thing and mean another. Haralambidou has used the allegorical architectural project as a research method in order to construct a design enigma and grasp meaning beyond analytical discourse. Allegory is valuable in research that focuses on representation and drawing – which is for art and architecture what language is to literature – because the employment of a figurative parable, or an allegorical narrative, resolves the difficulty of interrogating the foundation of visual thinking directly. Furthermore, influenced by Jean-Francois Lyotard’s philosophical definitions of discourse and figure she has coined the term ‘Figural Theory’ to describe research through an expanded definition of architectural drawing.

Marcel Duchamp and the Architecture of Desire (MDAD): MDAD is a sole-authored book, result of a research spanning more than ten years and part of Ashgate's Design in Architecture Research series. MDAD is an original exploration tracing the links between architectural design and Duchamp’s work. It puts across the argument that beyond the normative profession Duchamp was interested in the architecture of desire, re-constructing the imagination through drawing and testing the boundaries between reality and its aesthetic and philosophical possibilities. MDAD introduces three themes – allegory, visuality and desire – which permeate and organise the ideas explored in the book. Through these themes, Haralambidou defines and theorizes an alternative ‘drawing’ practice positioned between art and architecture that predates and includes Duchamp.

Teaching summary

Haralambidou is a dedicated educator. She has taught architectural design at undergraduate, postgraduate and MArch levels since 1996, and at PhD level since 2004, at the Bartlett, UCL. She also taught undergraduate design in 1998–2000 and was undergraduate History and Theory coordinator in 2003–04 at the University of Greenwich. 

During her teaching career Haralambidou has developed and promoted innovative pedagogical approaches that involve: (a) workshop-based experimental process aimed to initiate an intuitive response to materials and construction techniques (b) deconstructing and reconstructing narrative and interpretation through drawing and making as means of analysing context (c) time-based media, animation, film, and a pioneering technique that matches digital projection to physical models, as a means of exploring behaviour, weather, narrative and occupation beyond the limitations of static architectural drawing. 

Her students’ projects have been distinguished in international competitions; have won prizes, such as, Donaldson Medal, Faculty Medal, Making Buildings Award, Dissertation Award, Professional Practice Award and Narinder Sagoo Drawing Prize; and have been nominated for the RIBA bronze medal in 2001, 2002 (Tom Holberton, winner bronze medal, SOM Winner, Serjeant Award), 2005 and 2008. She received the RIBA Tutor prize for Part 1 in 2002. 

She is currently first supervisor to five PhD Architectural Design students and secondary to six. Recent research themes include: William Tozer, ‘A Theory of Making: Architecture and Art in the Practice of Adolf Loos’ (completed 2011); Emma Cheatle, ‘The Hinge Between Pierre Chareau’s La Maison de Verre and Marcel Duchamp’s Large Glass’; Henri Praeger, ‘Architecture Forensics’; Katy Beinart, ‘Salted Earth: Preserving Migrant Histories in London's Sites of Contested Identity’; David Buck, ‘In an Open Field: An Investigation of Temporal Landscape Notation’. She welcomes new students interested in visual technologies – historical and contemporary, experimental film and digital projection technologies, architectural drawing as a critical method, speculative design, allegory, Marcel Duchamp, exhibition design and curating, book architecture, stage design and the design of public spaces.


University College London
PhD, Architectural Design Theory | 2003
University College London
MArch, Architecture | 1995
National Technical University of Athens
DipArch, Architecture - Engineering | 1993


Penelope Haralambidou is an architect, researcher and lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where she coordinates the MPhil/PhD Architectural Design and design Unit One. Haralambidou studied architecture engineering at NTU, Athens and her graduating thesis project received a Commendation from the Greek Technical Chamber in 1993 and an Excellence in Design Student Award from the AIA, UK Chapter in 1995. She completed the MArch Architecture Design with Distinction in 1995, and the PhD Architectural Design in 2003, both at the Bartlett, UCL, supported by scholarships from Alexander S. Onassis, IKY foundations and the Maggie Scrutton Award.

Her speculative architectural projects have received prizes in international competitions organised by Europan, 1996, Academy of Architecture Arts & Sciences, 1997, Van Alen Institute, 1998, Shinkenchiku-sha, 1998. Two of these projects, Governor’s Island and Gridiron Memorial, were reworked into digital films and presented at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2000.

Between 1999 and 2004 she was a founding member of Tessera, an interdisciplinary practice involved in experimental design, installation, curating and exhibition design. Tessera’s work was distinguished in architectural competitions, exhibited and published internationally. Notable projects include their installation Drawing Fix, for the Museum of Modern Art in Athens in 2002 and their designs for the exhibitions, Athens-scape: The 2004 Olympics and the Metabolism of the City at the RIBA, London in 2003 and Heart Art Agency’s inaugural New York show at the Art Directors Club, New York in 2003. 

As part of the organising team of the research cluster, ‘Spatial Imagination in Design’, funded by the EPSRC and AHRC, Designing for the 21st Century (PI Professor Jane Rendell), 2004–05, she curated and designed the catalogue of the exhibition Spatial Imagination. In her role as Research Associate, 2006–07, she was responsible for developing a new branch of the architecture school’s website dedicated to research and managed the design and presentation of the Architecture Research Group’s Design Portfolios: an innovative part of the highly successful Bartlett RAE 2008 submission. Her current work lies between architectural design, art practice and curating, experimental film and critical theory and has been published and exhibited internationally. She is the author and editor of The Blossoming of Perspective: A Study (DomoBaal Editions, 2007) and has contributed writing on themes such allegory, figural theory and stereoscopy in architecture to a wide range of publications. Her forthcoming book, Marcel Duchamp and the Architecture of Desire (Ashgate, 2012) forms part of the Design Research in Architecture series. She is peer reviewer for The Journal of Architecture, 2009– and Architectural Research Quarterly, 2007– , a member of the RIBA Validating Board, 2007– , and external examiner at Westminster University, Central School of Speech and Drama, Architectural Association, UCL, and University of Roehampton. Her research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, London Gallery West, Bartlett Architecture Research Fund and Graduate School, UCL, and was shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA President’s Awards for Research in 2008.