UCL Urban Laboratory

Mr James O'Leary

Mr James O'Leary

Senior Lecturer

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
3rd Jan 2012

Research summary

My research explores the inter-relationship between human beings and the spatial systems we inhabit, and the work spans the fields of architecture, art, film and performance, with particular focus on the way that inter-disciplinary practices can impact on the arena of architectural design, representation and spatial production. Specific interests include semiotic, interactive and reflexive systems in architecture; performative and site-specific practice in fine art and narrative construction and mediation in film and video. I am also interested in the representation and documentation systems deployed across these fields as part of their creative process.  Notable recent works are:  'This is the Interface' (Royal Academy, London 2017) 'Light Vessel Automatic' (Performing Architecture, Tate Britain, London 2013), and 'Edge City' (Lisbon Architecture Triennale, 2013).  Recent publications include 'Falling' published by Copy Press in 2015 and Field Poetics published by Eros Press in 2016 (both co-authored with Dr. Kristen Kreider).  I am a member of the ‘Understanding Conflict’ Research Cluster at the University of Brighton, where I am a current recipient of an AHRC TECHNE doctoral award to research transformational architectural approaches to the contested spaces of the ‘interface areas’ of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Website: www.peacewall-archive.net

 Research Interests: Contemporary Art & Architecture, Situated Practices, Narrative Spaces, Urban Memory, Contested Space.

Teaching summary

I currently lead the M.Arch Design Realisation module, which provides the opportunity for all Year 4 students to consider how buildings are designed, constructed and delivered. This programme works across all Masters Units in the Architecture School.  Students are asked to reflect upon their relationship to technology, the environment and the profession.  This is explored through an iterative critical examination of the major building design project taught within the context of individual design units in 4th year.  The course runs concurrently with The Building Project and is supported by an extensive lecture series, seminars, cross unit crits, with each design unit being mentored by a dedicated practice-based tutor and structural and environmental support from some of the worlds leading consultancies. 

I am currently developing a new UCL Masters course entitled MA Situated Practice, which is due to open in October 2017.  Website: www.situated-practice.net


University College London
MArch, Architecture | 2005
University College London
DipArch, Architecture | 2001
Kent Institute of Art and Design
BA Hons, Architecture | 1996
Dublin Institute of Technology
DipArch, Architectural Technology | 1993


I am an architect and installation artist. I joined the Bartlett in January 2011 to take up the role of Lecturer in Innovative Technology and Design Realisation. I currently co-ordinate the M.Arch Design Realisation module.  Over the past fifteen years I have worked in design-led architecture practices in Ireland, the U.S. and the U.K. including - Hopkins, MasaStudio, SoftRoom and Theis & Khan and held positions in academia at Chelsea College of Art & Design and the Royal College of Art. In 2004, I established (with poet Kristen Kreider) the London-based practice Kreider + O’Leary.  We collaborate to make performance, installation and time-based media work in relation to sites of architectural and cultural interest.  Since 2003, we have worked collaboratively to construct work in prisons, churches, military sites, film locations, landscape gardens and desert environments, as well as in more traditional gallery venues across the UK, Europe, the US, Australia, and Japan.