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Alessandro Columbano

Senior Lecturer / Level 6 Leader

Birmingham School of Architecture and Design
0121 331 7937

Alessandro is a Senior Lecturer at the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. He also co-established and leads the Collaborative Laboratory (Co.LAB) a teaching intiative and organisation within the school that integrates teaching with practice through live projects, staff research/design and external consultancy. 

Prior to joining the university, Alessandro worked in architecture and research practices in Manchester and London, with experience in evidence-based design and historical refurbishments. He graduated from the Manchester School of Architecture with a distinction in both postgraduate architecture and MA Urbanism prior to developing his portfolio as an independent artist/designer. 

As anviere, a self-identified design guise, Alessandro has developed a portfolio of site-specific installations and artworks commenting on the subversive qualities of our physical environments. 

Alessandro brings these characteristics forward to his teaching as an academic and researcher; taking an active role in the discussion of architectural pedagogy, urban theory and the contemporary vernacular. It is applied by engaging in the city’s cultural network through an ongoing process of collaborative practice.

Current Activity
Research interests and expertise

Evolving interests can be categorised into two broad cultural themes; contemporary vernacular language and the statistical override of data upon more humanistic values to urban regeneration.

The architectural language of periodic styles is defined through a combination of culture and technology. The technological limits permit exploration of identity and tradition.

Can digital technology be representative of culture in this same manner as craft based heritage? Advanced digital modelling is overly concerned in defining a new language. Heritage informs this through reference and reaction. Do new digital forms follow historic precedents?

Alessandro’s research tries to address this through designed explorations embracing historical architectural vernaculars manipulated through advanced digital software and machinery.

His interest lies in exploiting production of forms to comply with legislative policy on architectural preservation. The classification of heritage proves a cultural necessity. Representation, whether virtual or physical, needs to address its own relevance in the context of our nostalgic tendencies.


Pg Cert Higher Education (2010) BCU

BArch Architecture RIBA pt.II (2008) University of Manchester

MA Architecture + Urbanism (2007) University of Manchester

BA (Hons) Architecture RIBA pt.I (2005) University of Manchester


Design, Cultural Context, Collaborative Practice - BA Architecture

Research & Theory, Dissertation, Collaborative Practice - MArch

Level 6 Leader


Research Interests

  • Cartography and psychogeography related to transient travel
  • Combined Digital manufacturing and craft based practices
  • Connectivity and conglomeration of creative enterprises and city culture.

Evolving interests can be categories in two broad cultural themes of contemporary vernacular language and the exchange between collaborative practice and creative networks.

The architectural language of periodic styles is defined through a combination of culture and technology. The technological limits permit exploration of identity and tradition. Can digital technology be representative of culture in this same manner as craft based heritage? Advanced digital modelling is overly concerned in defining a new language; the research generated through begins to explore digital forms and processes following historic precedents where heritage informs design references and a subsequent reaction to it.

In addition to this, collaborative practices are are tested against an ongoing model of trans-disciplinary work - drawing on theoretical understanding of local/national creative clusters and different models of creative production, for example the recent emergence of the maker movement. The outcomes are transferred to student teaching and help inform University strategies in external engagement and creative space usage. 

Current projects

STEAMhouse feasibility,

Futuremakers Exhibition, MAC Birmingham, 2016 

Other projects

Co.Lab: developing an innovative teaching-practice organisation within the school of architecture.

FAB LAB BHM: establishing a Fab Lab working space with the Accord Housing group and Zero Zero Architecture. This includes setting up a network of professionals, communities, and institutions including BIAD, within the Birmingham region to become part of the facility.

Hayes Bridge: a live project investigating the feasibility of running through a complete design-to-construction process with undergraduate students. Funding support from St. Modwens Environmental Trust.


Grants and funding

  • Birmingham Open Media co-working space, UnLtd Social Entrepreneurship Grant, 2014
  • Birmingham Production Space, ACE g4a funding 2014. Co-investigator. Research led by Ruth Claxton.
Work With Industry

Conferences and Seminars

  • Modular Steel Construction, Re-domesticising Steel workshop, ZHAW Switzerland, 2015
  • The Studio, the architect, the post-studio, the artist; AAE Conference, University of Sheffield, Sept 2014   ISBN 978-0-9929705-2-9
  • Collaboration is Not a Dirty Word, RIBA Research Matters, London, 2013
  • Mistakes, Emerging Group (2), The Gopher Hole, London 2011
  • Perception Observation Expectation Response, Emerging Group (1), McAslan Studio, London 2011
  • Copy Gothic. New Architectural Language in Print, Impact 7 Conference, Monash University Australia, Dec 2011
  • The Remote Studio, CEBE Studio Culture 6, University of Nottingham, 2010
  • The RP Architectural Model, RDPM Conference, Lancaster University, 2010
  • Cultural Amnesia with Tom Jefferies, Aesop Conference, Liverpool University, 2009

Exhibitions and Displays

  • UnPublic Works, Eastside Projects, 5 Feb 2016,
  • Vault Experiments no.3. Gothic, Library of Birmingham, April 2015,
  • Hidden Space Exhibition structure, Curzon Street Station, Birmingham, June 2014
  • Flatpack Palais Festival Structure, Custard Factory, Birmingham, March 2013
  • Janus I & II, Occupy My Time Gallery, London, 2012
  • A Cosier Cell, Police & Thieves, Old Police Station Gallery, London, 2010
  • London’s Bridge, London Bridge 800 Festival, RIBA London, 2009
  • Konijn Island, MAS Imagine Coney Exhibition, MAS Urban Centre Gallery, New York, 2009



Links and Social Media


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