Dr Hiral Patel

Having  trained  as  an  architect  in  India  and  practiced  in  the  UK,  Hiral recently  completed  her PhD  research to theorise  the  practices  of  adapting  buildings. She is particularly  interested  in  developing  a creative and collaborative curatorial practice  as  part  of  the  analytic  research  process.  Hiral’s current  research  around  the  DEGW  archive  furthers  this  interest  and  explores  the  linkages  between  organisational  practices  and  the  built  environment at different scales, to  help  understand  the  changing  nature  of  work. I am interested in the theoretical ideas of performativity, socio-materiality, politics of representation, practices and narratives. Hiral believes that research and practice are mutually dependant, and want to promote responsive, research-based and inclusive approach to the design of our environments.


  • The DEGW archive, 2016-present
  • The Library: physicality and enactment, 2012-16 (PhD thesis)


  • Patel, H., & Tutt, D. (2018). “This building is never complete”: Studying adaptations of a library building over time. In D. Sage & C. Vitry (Eds.), Societies under Construction. Palgrave.
  • Patel, H. (2017). Curating as research: Possibilities for built environment research. In The 12th Annual International Ethnography Symposium, 29th August-1st September 2017, University of Manchester. Manchester, UK.
  • Haenlein, H., & Patel, H. (2017). Design-led procurement: linking design process with procurement of construction projects. In R. Hay & F. Samuel (Eds.), Professional Practices in the Built Environment Conference, 27-28 April 2017, University of Reading. Reading, UK.
  • Patel, H., Tutt, D., & Hughes, W. (2015). In what capacity are you here? – Dealing with multiple identities during multidisciplinary fieldwork. In 10th Annual Liverpool Ethnography Symposium, 25-28 August 2015, University of Liverpool. Liverpool.
  • Patel, H., Hughes, W., & Tutt, D. (2013). Theorizing evolution of buildings. In CLIBYG Annual Workshop: “Building the bounds of academic research on construction management’, 20 – 22 November 2013, Copenhagen Business School. Copenhagen.
  • Patel, H., Luck, R., & Hughes, W. (2012). Building as product and process: Spatial and temporal axes. In CLIBYG research workshop: “The building as Object and as Project” 21 – 23 November 2012, Copenhagen Business School. Copenhagen.


‘Archive, memory & materiality: An exploration through the DEGW Archive’, London, June 2017. This event was part of the London Festival of Architecture 2017. A pop-up exhibition was curated at AECOM’s Aldgate office. A walk around the Broadgate area was organised to tease out the contribution of DEGW in its development. Click here for further information

What is a client?’, Museum of English Rural Life, University of Reading, October 2017. This public exhibition accompanied the second DEGW Foundation Lecture by Despina Katsikakis, past chairperson of DEGW. The lecture was part of School of Architecture Public Lecture series, whose audiences include members of built environment profession within Reading. The exhibition explored how the notion of ‘client’ is enacted in DEGW’s practice and in turn questioning the politics of user representation in design of buildings.

‘DEGW design methods’, the DEGW archive’, School of Architecture, University of Reading, October 2016. This public exhibition accompanied the first DEGW Foundation Lecture by John Worthington, co-founder of DEGW. The lecture was part of School of Architecture Public Lecture series. The exhibition presented an alternative narrative to that of John Worthington’s regarding the development of DEGW as gleaned from the DEGW archive.

Chronology in making – the DEGW archive’ curated at the School of Architecture, University of Reading, during the opening of School of Architecture, June 2016. DEGW members were consulted in selecting the projects for this visual chronology to weave multiple stories and represent them through the archive.

Enactments of the Library’, curated in the Library Building, University of Reading in November 2014 to mark the celebration of 50th anniversary of the building. The exhibition was part of University of Reading Alumni event. The exhibition provided an opportunity to actively participate in the community being researched. In making the exhibition and transgressing my identity from ‘observer’ to ‘participant’, I was able to gain new access to people, places and artefacts in the field. The exhibition provided an example of simultaneity of data collection, data analysis and demonstrating research output.

Materiality of the data’ at School of Construction Management and Engineering Doctoral Conference, 15 June 2015, University of Reading. The installation reflected on the extent of transformation that the ‘data’ from the field undergoes when it is represented as the ‘data’ in the thesis. Juxtaposition of field data and transformed data further reveals author’s ‘edit’. Research themes emerge in the process of creating and engaging with ‘Data Dump’, which becomes a productive tool rather than uncritical depository of data.

Seminar series:

‘Fundamental: Users’ seminar series was organised in May-June 2018 to explore the conception of ‘users’ within the context of the built environment research and practice. This multi-disciplinary seminar series hosted speakers from the University of Reading and beyond, and explored three themes: participation, language and technology. The series was funded by the University of Reading Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Fund.

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