School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Professor Rosie Parnell

Prof of Architecture & Pedagogy


My research, teaching and practice combine interests in children’s spaces, design process, participation and architecture education. I have delivered projects and lectures internationally on these topics and supported major organisations and small NGOs with associated research, training and development - most recently as a member of the American Institute of Architect’s Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Research Task Force. I began working with children and young people as the education manager at an environmental regeneration charity in the UK. I brought this experience back to academia, pursuing a range of outreach and research activities with schools and youth groups which led to a focus on children’s engagement in spatial and educational design. I taught at the University of Sheffield School of Architecture from 1998 until 2015 when I left to join Northumbria University, arriving at Newcastle University in December 2019.


My current research focuses on children and spatial design – their experiences of space and their contributions to the design process. Closely related to this is my ongoing collaborative work exploring children's built environment education internationally. I recently co-authored the Oxford Online Bibliography of Children, Young People and Architecture - the first of its kind to attempt to begin to define this field. Much of my research has centred on the school design process - originally funded by EPSRC during the Building Schools for the Future programme. Research supported by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust expanded to explore a range of types of space being designed by architects working directly with children in Germany, Greece and the UK. I have supported recent and ongoing PhD research looking at public playgrounds, nurseries, journeys to school and adult-child design dialogue.  My parallel interest lies in the process of architectural education and questions here around live learning, playfulness, creative process and diversity, which I have explored through action research, through work with the aae (association of architectural educators) and in various related publications.


I have contributed to teaching at all levels, leading year 1 design studio and mentoring live projects in both undergraduate and postgraduate studios. I have also contributed to postgraduate taught courses and supervised a range of PhDs. Much of my teaching is underpinned by critical pedagogy and a commitment to support students to take responsibilty for their own learning.  I have carried out a range of funded learning and teaching initiatives to support peer learning, creative process, critical skills development and assessment and feedback. I co-authored the student guide, The Crit, which explores alternatives to this normative studio ritual and continue to be active in learning and teaching conferences. I received the University of Sheffield Senate Award for my teaching and a prestigious teaching fellowship at the Technical University Berlin. I am currently supporting an action research project led by TU Dublin, which is testing alternative approaches to assessment and feedback in the design studio.