The Bartlett School of Architecture

Miss Emma Kate Matthews

Miss Emma Kate Matthews

Lecturer in Architecture

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
28th Sep 2015

Research summary

My research is concerned with discovering & exploiting creative reciprocities between music as constructed sound, & architecture as constructed space. I aim to establish a mode for transdisciplinary practice between the interconnected fields of architecture, acoustical engineering, music composition & performance.

Historically, architectural space has played a highly active role in influencing the experience & composition of music. The Dutch renaissance composer Adrian Willaert is famed for having supposedly invented polychoral, antiphonal music as a response to the spatially-opposed positioning of choir lofts in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Conversely, architects & engineers have long acknowledged the desires of music in space. Long before Acoustics was a formally recognised discipline, Roman architect & engineer Vitruvius discusses a method for enhancing the sonic character of theatres & performance spaces by embedding echea or acoustic vases in the walls. Despite these examples, only a small handful of spatiosonic practitioners have managed to rigorously explore interactive parallels between musical space & physical space in their work. American composer Henry Brant produced many spatial compositions, with a view to exploring the idea that aspects of physical space (particularly distance & direction) are as compositionally active as the musical elements of tone & timbre.


Teaching summary

Since September 2016, Emma-Kate has been running a Masters in Architecture design unit with teaching partner Nat Chard (unit 25).

"The core of our unit involves helping each student develop their own experimental practices, both in their approach to design and in the media through which they think and work. In our experience an experimental approach fosters rich design potential while also providing a productive educational method. We value the way that working experimentally through materials and processes can open up possibilities that might elude us when working with more conventional design methods. We encourage speculative risk and not knowing where the idea will end. To operate like this we look for rigour when nurturing the relationship between idea and technique, looking for ways in which each student might develop or invent their own media and be in control of it on their own terms. We are much more interested in the literal and figurative manifestation of the idea than in the diagram."

- Nat Chard & Emma-Kate Matthews


London Metropolitan University
Other qualification, Professional Practice | 2013
University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Architecture | 2011
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma | 2011
University of Nottingham
First Degree, Bachelor of Architecture | 2008


Emma-Kate is undertaking a PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, under the supervision of Profs. Bob Sheil and Yeoryia Manolopoulou and Prof. Neil Heyde from the Royal Academy of Music. Her work has been published in multiple peer-reviewed journals including Architectural Design (Wiley), Design Ecologies (Intellect books) and Organised Sound Journal (Cambridge Uni. Press). She has recently completed commissions for the Guildhall School of Music, Musicity and the Barbican Centre as part of the “Sound Unbound” festival, and is currently working on a year-long spatialised orchestral commission for the London Symphony Orchestra as a successful applicant of the prestigious Panufnik Composers’ Scheme. Emma-Kate’s spatialised compositions have been performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and at high-profile venues including the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona and London’s Southbank Centre.  In December 2019, Emma-Kate organised and presented at the “Sound of Space” symposium, with Profs. Mark Burry and Jane Burry, with funding from the Australian Research council. Emma-Kate also teaches a Masters in Architecture unit (Unit X-25) with Prof. Nat Chard, which focuses on experimental practice. Her work has been exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts and the RIBA.