The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Penelope Haralambidou

Prof Penelope Haralambidou

Professor of Architecture and Spatial Culture

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
27th Sep 1999

Research summary

Haralambidou’s research is practice-led and interdisciplinary, drawing from: architectural design, art practice, architectural history & theory, art history & theory, filmmaking, film theory and, most recently, medieval studies. Her work has been exhibited and published nationally and internationally. Notably, her article ‘Drawing the Female Nude’, 2009, has been the most read in the Journal of Architecture for the last 3 years. 

Using an original methodology that combines history & theory with design, she employs architectural drawing, model-making and digital film as investigatory tools to analyse ideas and work, not only in architecture, but also in visual representation, the history of architectural drawing, the politics of vision, fine art and cinema. This research methodology is exemplified in her monograph, Marcel Duchamp and the Architecture of Desire, Routledge, 2013. The book offers an investigation of French artist Marcel Duchamp’s work from an architectural design perspective adding to, but also challenging other art historical interpretations. The research was nominated for the RIBA President’s Award for Research, 2014, has had a significant impact in design research in architecture and art. 

Another strand of her research, which intersects with her research-based teaching at MArch and doctoral levels, studies the relationship between film and architecture. The work focuses on recent advancements in digital technology that have brought the two disciplines closer than ever before and she has coined the term ‘architectural essay film’ to describe historical and contemporary ‘essay films’ that use architecture as a structure. She has presented and published this research nationally and internationally, was organiser of the symposium ‘Architecture | Essay | Film’ in 2016. 

Combining analogue design – hand drawing and physical modelling – with digital film she has produced a series of research artefacts, or ‘essay drawings’, that analyse specific texts and films and consider the impact of digital technology on architectural representation. Her most recent essay drawing featured at the Architectural Research Biennale, Works + Words, 2019, KDAK, Denmark. 

Her current major design research project studies The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405, by medieval author Christine de Pizan, who describes the construction of an allegorical city as a defence of women against misogyny. Alongside historical research, Haralambidou explores de Pizan’s proto-feminist work through an embodied act of drawing, making and digital film. The work is the subject of a solo exhibition at Domobaal gallery, 2020. 

Haralambidou has contributed to the development and promotion of BSA’s cutting-edge Design Research not only through her own work, but also through her strong record of doctoral supervision since 2004 and her roles as MPhil/PhD Co-ordinator 2011–16 and Acting Director 2016–17. She supervises theses that employ design as a research method in innovative themes exploring the relationship between architecture and spatial culture: spatial representation in art and architecture; videogames; architecture and music; and architecture and film, supported by prestigious scholarships. She is currently primary supervisor to seven doctoral students; secondary to five; and tertiary to two external students. She has overseen nine completions and supervised two international visiting doctoral and post-doctoral students. All of her completed students have been nominated, two were shortlisted and one won a Commendation at the RIBA President’s Awards for Research, 2014. Graduates have produced pioneering work in their subject and proceeded to publish their theses with prestigious publishers and secure significant positions in academic institutions.

Teaching summary

Haralambidou is a passionate and dedicated educator and has taught architectural design at the BSA since 1996, at undergraduate, postgraduate, post-professional, doctoral and post-doctoral level. She nurtures interdisciplinary pedagogies and research-based innovative teaching methodologies. Her students have consistently produced work of exceptionally high quality, originality and rigour, and she actively promotes a convivial, investigatory and collaborative working ethos in every team that she teaches. 

From 1999–2013, she taught undergraduate unit, UG1. Innovative curriculum development and course design included the use of time-based media and 3D scanning technologies. The unit was renowned as one of the most experimental and successful, corroborated by its record in high numbers of internal and external awards. Six students were nominated for the RIBA Bronze Medal and Tom Holberton was Bronze Medal winner, as well as the Sergeant Award and SOM prize and Haralambidou received the RIBA Tutor prize for Part 1, 2002.

Since 2013, she teaches postgraduate unit, PG 24, with Michael Tite (previously with Kei Matsuda and Simon Kennedy) employing a pioneering research-based teaching methodology that uses digital film and immersive environments to rethink architecture through time. The unit promotes long-term thinking and addresses political, social and environmental issues through rigorous research and design. This original pedagogical method has developed a strong reputation worldwide and students have produced highly sophisticated, inventive, paradigm-changing, award-winning work, boosting the standing of the BSA as a pioneer in this area. The work has attracted national and international publicity, it was the subject of a BBC feature in 2015, and has been exhibited and screened at prestigious events and institutions. Haralambidou has been invited to present PG 24 work at esteemed conferences, symposia and events, and has curated exhibitions of PG 24 films nationally and internationally. Students have received numerous internal, national and international awards, for instance, most recently, Jerome NG was prize winner at World Architecture Festival, 2019. Two students were nominated for the RIBA Silver medal and Sonia Magdziarz was Silver Medal winner, 2018. Haralambidou is one of few members of staff at the Bartlett with two RIBA Medal winning students (one Bronze and one Silver).

As a result of the success of the PG 24 pedagogical model, Haralambidou is currently developing a new post-professional Master’s programme in Cinematic and Videogame Architecture (working title) proposed for UCL EAST, Marshgate, in 2023.


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 2003
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Architecture | 1995
National Technical University of Athens
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of Architecture | 1993


Penelope Haralambidou is Professor of Architecture and Spatial Culture and Director of Communications at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She coordinates MArch PG24, where she promotes a highly innovative research-based teaching methodology that uses digital film and immersive environments to re-think architectural design through time. Her research employs architectural drawing, model-making and digital film as investigatory tools to analyse ideas and work, not only in architecture, but also visual representation, the politics of vision, art and cinema. Her work has been exhibited internationally, she is the author of the monograph Marcel Duchamp and the Architecture of Desire (London: Routledge, 2013), and she has contributed writing on themes, such as architectural representation, allegory, figural theory, stereoscopy and film to a wide range of publications. Her solo show, ‘City of Ladies’, presenting her recent practice-led research on Christine de Pizan’s proto-feminist text The Book of the City of Ladies, 1405, was hosted at DomoBaal gallery in 2020.