School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Julia Heslop

Postdoctoral Fellow in Architecture

Background

I am an artist working between  art and architecture. I have a BA in Fine Art: Painting and Printmaking from the Glasgow School of Art, a Master of Fine Art from Newcastle University and a PhD in Human Geography from Durham University. 

My work often takes the form of large scale architectural installations in urban space. The potentials for deep participation in (re)creating the urban realm are at the centre of my practice and I often work in collaborative, slow ways with groups and communities. My work is inherently urban focused and I am interested in the role of the artist as a critical spatial practitioner, who impacts upon the fabric of place, and in so doing uses the work to ask important questions regarding land and property ownership, housing precarity, urban planning and local democracy.

Most recently I have become interested in the potentials for housing to be a participatory and collaborative process. Working within a context of austerity and rising homelessness, my PhD aimed to translate knowledge across borders, mobilising methods of participation in housing and planning from an informal neighbourhood in Albania to the UK to examine whether participation in the urban realm can trigger processes of collective learning, skills building and politicisation for low income groups. My PhD culminated in the participatory build project Protohome which I initiated. Protohome was a collaboration between Crisis, the national charity for single homelessness, xsite architecture and TILT Workshop. Working alongside an architect and a joiner, a group of individuals who have experienced homelessness developed a timber-frame self-build housing prototype. Once the building was constructed it was open to the public and hosted a programme of events and exhibitions examining the collaborative design-build process and wider issues to do with housing and homelessness in an austerity context and participatory housing alternatives.

I have also worked on other research projects including: ‘Brexit Futures’, with Prof. Ben Anderson and ‘Disposal: the housing crisis in Horden’s numbered streets’, with Prof. Rachel Pain.

I am a trustee of The NewBridge Project, an arts organisation in Newcastle, where I also have a studio, and I am on the steering committee of the Collective Studio, with The NewBridge Project and Newcastle Institute for Creative Arts Practice (NICAP) and of the North East Community Led Development Network.

www.juliaheslop.com // www.unofficialculture.wordpress.com 

Twitter: JuliaHHeslop

Research

I am currently developing a project entitled ‘Scarcity and Adaptation in Housing’. For this I am interested in what the context of ‘scarcity’, conceptualised as an enduring condition of life and when connected to a discourse of ‘degrowth’, can offer architecture/housing theory and practice. When ecologic and economic limits are real, and state-supported housing for low income groups is increasingly precarious in the UK, the contexts and conditions that scarcity presents poses fundamental questions for how housing is conceived and practised now and in the future. 

This research involves a range of methods from ethnography, to studio practice and live build projects working with groups/communities. In so doing it uses the creation of the art/architectural object as a research tool, as well as a mode of dissemination.

Teaching

I currently teach the second year Architecture and Urban Planning module: Alternative Practice Theories and I have also taught on other undergraduate modules/courses including:

Urban Geography

People, Participation and Place

Human Geography

Urban Poverty

Engineering Experience

Geographies of Everyday Life

Painting Strand

Publications

  • Heslop J. Protohome. Architectural Research Quarterly 2016, 20(4), 387-389.
  • Heslop J. Protohome: rethinking home through co-production. In: Benson,M;Hamiduddin,I, ed. Self-Build Homes: Social Discourse, Experiences and Directions. London: UCL Press, 2017, pp.96-114. In Press.
  • Pain R, Heslop J, Ormerod E, Butler-Rees A, Crawshaw H, Davisson H, Dawson L, Fairhurst M, Galin M, Harman D, Holloway E, James T, Liu A, Chau C, Qing H, Read F, Smith M, Somerset C, Sporik E, Turner I. DISPOSAL: The Housing Crisis in Horden’s Numbered Streets. Durham University: Centre for Social Justice and Community Action, 2016.