The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Bob Sheil

Prof Bob Sheil

Professor of Architecture and Design through Production

Head of Department

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1995

Research summary

In the post digital age, as new tools have dissolved boundaries between the drawn and the made, how we design has become of equal importance to what we design. Both the role and skillset of the designer has been presented with an unprecedented opportunity to expand and diversify. His research is focused on experiments in the production of architecture where questions are developed through integrated acts of design, making and writing. His work explores the complex relationship between design and making, and in particular how this relationship affects and determines the architectural outcome. He defines this field as ‘Protoarchitecture’, a speculative approach to architectural production that seeks to create and hypothesize alternative and simultaneous approaches to making architecture, involving varied methodologies of design, and varied methodologies of making.

In collaboration with sixteen*(makers) and Stahlbogen GmbH, he won a design award from the RIBA in 2010 for the building ‘55/02’ in Kielder Northumberland. Since 2000, he has published multiple international papers on design research, and edited three issues of Architectural Design; ‘Design through Making’ (2005), and ‘Protoarchitecture’ (2008), and ‘High Definition’ (2014). In 2011 he Co-founded the triennial international conference FABRICATE at UCL with Ruairi Glynn, and in 2012, he published ‘Manufacturing the Bespoke’ an AD Reader on prototyping and making architecture in the digital age, and a monograph on 55/02.

Selected Publications

Sheil, R. (2014). High Definition: Zero Tolerance in Design and Production.  Architectural Design: London: John Wiley & Sons.

Sheil, R., Callicott, N., Ayres, P., & Sharpe, P. (2012). 55/02 A sixteen*(makers) Project Monograph. Toronto: Riverside Architectural Press.

Sheil, R. (2012). Manufacturing the Bespoke. London and New York: : John Wiley & Sons.

Sheil, R., & Glynn, R. (2011) FABRICATE - Making Digital Architecture (1st ed.). Toronto: Riverside Architectural Press.

Sheil, R. (2008). Protoarchitecture: Analogue and Digital Hybrids. Architectural Design: London: John Wiley & Sons.

Sheil, R. (2005). Design through Making. Architectural Design: London: John Wiley & Sons.

Teaching summary

I have been teaching at the Bartlett since 1995 when sixteen*(makers) were appointed artists-in-residence in the School of Architecture’s workshops, later to be graded teaching fellows in design and making. In 2005 I was appointed Senior Lecturer in Architecture, and have been tutoring dedicated design units since 1997, firstly in BSc as Unit 6 with co-tutor Nick Callicott (1997-2003), then in MArch as Unit 23 with Graeme Williamson (2003-2007), and with Emmanuel Vercruysse and Kate Davies until 2014 when I took over as the School’s Director. My approach to teaching stems from workshop experimentation, physical and tactile engagement with the production of design, exposure to a broad field of evolving technologies and tooling, and a motive to challenge the expected norms of architectural practice and its disciplinary habits. The unit is distinguished by its dedication to learning by doing, and its critical approach to drawing as an iterative and cyclical process associated with instructions to make. As Director of Technology, I was awarded a £490k grant by UCL to set up an establish the Digital Manufacturing Centre at The Bartlett, the first such facility of its kind in any UK school. In 2011, I was awarded a similar sum which has led to founding the Bartlett Manufacturing and Design Exchange (B-MADE).


University College London
DipArch, Architecture | 1994
University College London
BSc, Architecture | 1991


Bob Sheil is an Architect, Director of The Bartlett School of Architecture, Professor in Architecture and Design through Production, and the School’s Director of Technology. He is a founding partner of sixteen*(makers), whose work in collaboration with Stahlbogen GmbH ‘55/02’ won a RIBA award for design in 2010, and also includes a ten year catalogue of experimental projects both internationally published and exhibited. He is an educator, critic, researcher, collaborator and practitioner, as well as an experimental designer who is fascinated by transgression between making, craft, and technology, in architectural design practice. He has played a leading role in the Schools significant acceleration of investment in digital technologies since he took over as Director of Technology in 2007, including founding the Digital Manufacturing Centre (2009) and later evolving it into the Bartlett Manufacturing and Design Exchange (B-MADE), which merges all workshop and laboratory resources of the School under one organization.

He is the author of multiple book chapters, refereed papers, and articles on design, making and technology. He has co-designed and built 6 significant artefacts/built works, and been internationally exhibited on 11 occasions. He has edited five books, including three issues of Architectural Design; ‘Design through Making’ (2005), ‘Protoarchitecture’ (2008), and the forthcoming ‘High Definition : Negotiating Zero Tolerance’ (2014), an AD Reader ‘Manufacturing the Bespoke’ published in 2012, and ‘55/02: A sixteen*(makers) Monograph’ (also 2012). In 2011, he Co-Chaired the highly acclaimed international conference 'FABRICATE' with Ruairi Glynn, for which he also co-edited the substantial parallel publication. FABRICATE has now become an internationally established conference brand, with the 2014 event hosted by ETH Zurich. A number of his lectures on design and making can be viewed online including his inaugural lecture “Design through Production” which has registered over 1000 plays.

He has recently founded The Protoarchitecture Lab at UCL where he is currently developing new strand of collaborative research between making, performance and 3D scanning, in collaboration with the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, SHUNT, and ScanLAB projects.