Global Urban Research Unit

Staff Profile

Dr Peter Kellett

Senior Lecturer in Architecture



I am a qualified architect with a Masters degree in Social Anthropology and a PhD which combines both disciplines. My research focuses on the interrelationship between people and their environments, particularly disadvantaged groups who inhabit or create environments in conditions of acute resource constraint or relative powerlessness.


BA (Hons) Architectural Studies. Newcastle University
BArch (Hons) Bachelor of Architecture. Newcastle University
MA Socio-Cultural Anthropology (Distinction). University of Durham
PhD Newcastle University
ARB/RIBA Part III (Registration as an architect)


IAPS: International Association of People-Environment Studies
ASA: Association of Social Anthropologists
RIBA: Royal Institute of British Architects (lapsed)



Informal Interests

Playing music, digging my allotment, contemporary art, planting trees, cycling...


Research Interests

My doctoral work explored the creation, use and value of self-made, informal settlements in Latin America. Since then I have developed analytical and theoretical insights which I have applied in funded projects in several parts of the world, mostly in collaboration with colleagues in the Cities and International Development group within the Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) where I am based. For example two DFID-funded Home-based Enterprise projects (with Dr Graham Tipple) examined how low-income households in developing cities use the space of the dwelling and the labour of the household to generate income. Our findings challenged accepted policy and demonstrated how such activities can lead to poverty alleviation and improved housing, both key components of the Millennium Development Goals. I have also worked with Dr Michael Majale on issues of disability and informal settlement upgrading.

In the UK I have applied these research techniques to environment-behaviour relations of groups with limited control over their circumstances, such as hospital patients and the elderly. Because of my expertise in micro-level analysis of environments I was invited to join an inter-disciplinary team in the Centre for Arts and Humanities in Health and Medicine (CAHHM) at Durham University, to evaluate hospital environments for NHS Estates, particularly from the perspective of the patient. More recently I have been working with Rose Gilroy on issues of identity and independence in the housing of older people.

Since 2000 I have been joint co-ordinator of the Culture and Space in the Built Environment Network of IAPS (International Association for People-Environment Studies) and in 2006 I joined the Board of IAPS.

Current Work

With Felipe Hernandez of Liverpool University I recently competed an edited book ‘Rethinking the Informal City: Critical Perspectives from Latin America’ (Berghahn 2010). I plan to complement this with a companion volume: ‘Inside the Informal City: Ethnographies of Building and Everyday Life in the Barrios of Latin America’. Another project will focus on: ‘Temporary Architectures: Short Term Structures and Spaces’.

Postgraduate Supervision

Research supervision is a key part of my work. To date I have successfully supervised a total of 16 MPhil students and 21 PhDs. Currently I am supervising 8 PhD students (lead supervisor on 6):

Marsoyo, A. Constructing Spacial Capital: Home-Based Enterprises in Yogjakarta, Indonesia
Mbathi, M. Integrating Geo-Information Tools in Informal Settlement Upgrading in Nairobi

Agustinadewi: Housing Transformation Processes in Bali

Firzal: Reconstruction of meaning in Domestic Space, Pekanbaru, Indonesia

Prananing Tyas: Resilience and Home-Based Enterprises

Muktiwibowo: Street Space Use and Informal Activity Systems in Bali

Swasta: Low-Cost Vertical Housing Approaches in Yogyakarta, Indonesia (second supervisor)

Agha: Intelligent Building Systems and Courtyard Houses in Baghdad (second supervisor)


PhD Examination Experience: 

I have examined doctorates at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) Stockholm, Université de Montréal, Universidad Castilla La Mancha (Toledo), University of Cambridge, University of Glasgow, University College London (DPU, Bartlett and Department of Geography), London School of Economics (LSE), University of Sheffield, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Northumbria University and Kings College London.






Module Leader:

ARC2023: Theory 2: The Place of Houses

ARC8058/8068: Linked Research Project (MArch)


ARC1001: Architectural Design 1 

ARC2020: Dissertation Studies 

TCP8920: Planning for Developing Countries

ARC8051: Tools for Thinking (MArch)

SOC8101: The Shaping of Latin America (MA in Latin American Studies)