The Bartlett School of Architecture

Dr Fiona Zisch

Dr Fiona Zisch

Lecturer in Architecture

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2015

Research summary

Fiona Zisch’s transdisciplinary research explores cognitive ecologies. Her research draws on and brings together theory and praxis in architecture; cognitive and behavioural neuroscience; experimental psychology; philosophy of mind and neurophilosophy; critical theory; cyberfeminism; technology, interaction, and performance studies. Wickedness as central to this transdisciplinary ethos, the notion of the threshold, a dynamic space of change, offers potential for discovery rather than deliver (pre)set outcomes.

Fiona is specifically interested in (embodied) cognition and experience of architectural space, with an emphasis on reciprocity and movement. Her doctoral thesis examined (1) potentials of cross-disciplinarity between architecture and neuroscience (neuroarchitecture) and shared knowledge production within a critical framework, (2) the reciprocity of: the neural construction of (architectural) space as a cognitive map, architects’ concepts that underlie the design of buildings, and experiential qualities of built architecture, (3) the construction of a personal, yet adaptively transferrable, method of becoming “Doppelkopf” in transdisciplinary research.

Fiona also has a background in dance and, in her research, often collaborates with choreographers, movement practitioners, and integrated body designers, investigating bodies and movement across different scales of space and time.

Teaching summary

Fiona Zisch is Programme Director on the Bartlett School of Architecture's MArch Design for Performance and Interaction, where she also runs Design Pathway 2 ‘Radical Realities’ and leads History and Theory. Students on Design for Performance and Interaction challenge the boundaries of traditional understandings of architecture and work across disciplines and methods. Pathway 2 is interested in 5EA cognition and atmospheres, expanding classic 4EA models to further integrate Entanglement. A focus on embodiment and movement is central and the studio interweaves traditional models of experience to critically explore and inform design. Work can be found at www.interactivearchitecture.org

Fiona also supervises students on the Architectural Design MPhil/PhD, as well as MPhil/PhD students working across UCL departments and faculties.

Fiona has lectured extensively at architecture schools internationally and regularly gives invited lectures to students and contributes to workshops and seminars, additionally sitting on advisory boards and acting as external examiner.


Fiona Zisch studied architecture at the University of Innsbruck, Austria and Lunds Tekniska Hogskola, Sweden. After a brief excursion first into the world of design for outer space at NASA and then into film architecture and production design, Fiona practiced as an architect, working in offices in Vienna and London; she was also active as a freelance architectural writer in Vienna and Innsbruck, before taking up a lectureship at studio2 at the University of Innsbruck. Fiona gained her PhD at UCL at the Bartlett School of Architecture and the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience under the supervision of Prof. Stephen Gage and Prof. Hugo Spiers.

She is Programme Director on the Bartlett School of Architecture's MArch Design for Performance and Interaction where she also runs Research Pathway 2 and leads History and Theory. She is a collaborator in the UCL research group Spierslab and collaboratively oversees BartlettTV, the School of Architecture’s broadcasting and XR studio.