Collaborative Consultancy


Staff at the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design are an interdisciplinary community of researchers, practitioners, teachers and makers who are involved in the production and evaluation of space through different scales.

We can offer design consultancy to individuals or organisations of any size in any sector. Our position at a University with key specialisms mean we are well placed to offer a unique service that offers a rigorous research-led approach and goes beyond conventional design services available in the commercial sector.

We ensure a collaborative method to the projects we undertake, working closely with our partners to devise contextually driven responses. Our expertise, experience and research is contemporary and situation-based.

The School can provide consultancy and research-led design services in the following areas:

  • Future Living, sustainable and digital design including technical and environmental simulation, drone aerial footage and photography, AR/VR simulation;
  • History, theory and heritage including conservation architecture, heritage statements;
  • Collaborative and creative design practices including design generation and design analysis;
  • Urbanism and wellbeing including: pubic realm and landscape;
  • Manufacturing processes and innovation in 3D design including material exploration;
  • Design/Practice Management and Strategic Design.

Whilst we are able to complete architectural and fabrication services, we do not offer work that competes with existing practices. Our consultancy focusses predominantly on specific research-led inquiry that is distinctive to commercial practice or working in partnership with design firms to share best practice to achieve innovative outcomes.

If you have a project that may be suitable for our consultancy, please contact the school lead:

Alessandro Columbano
School Lead: Enterprise + innovation / Senior Lecturer

Consultancy staff at the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design are:

Alessandro Columbano

Alessandro is a Senior Lecturer, MArch Course Director and Enterprise Lead at the Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. He also co-established and leads the Co\\aborative Lab:oratory (Co.LAB) a design-research organisation that integrates teaching with inter-disciplinary design practice through live projects. Past projects include the establishment of STEAMhouse – a prototyping and innovation centre for SME’s, and collaborating on the Knowledge Hub, which received the National Urban Design Award in 2017.


Alessandro has worked in architecture and research practices in Manchester and London focusing on residential and restoration of historic buildings, with further specialised experience in evidence-based design at Space Syntax. He graduated from the Manchester School of Architecture in both architecture and urbanism courses prior to developing his portfolio as an independent artist/designer.

He brings these characteristics forward to his research and consultancy specialism: design ecologies, workplace design, community engagement, collaborative working methods, architecture and urban design, service design and strategy, product prototyping, exhibitions and installations.

Oliver Chapman

Oliver Chapman is an architect and lecturer at Birmingham School of Architecture & Design, where he is keen to inspire young designers to develop an understanding of how craft and technology can lead to environmentally conscious design and sustainable construction practices. Having studied at University of Liverpool, Queen’s University Belfast and Birmingham City University, Oliver has practiced at a number of award-winning practices including Sjolander da Cruz, Aedas and D5 Architects.


He has worked across a spectrum of scales: from furniture design and house extensions to airports and masterplans, utilizing a range of working methodologies including community consultation, physical prototyping, and Building Information Management. He has experience of a range of clients in residential, commercial, industrial, infrastructure, transport, healthcare, civic and education sectors and has developed projects from conception to completion.

In his role at BSoAD, Oliver has a keen interest in promoting transdisciplinary practices in a theoretical and practical setting.

Lucas Hughes

Lucas has mixed multidiscipline experience since 2004 within a variety of Landscape Architecture / Urban Design practice, with projects across various market sectors, in UK and international contexts, on strategic and detailed design.

Lucas has extensive experience in academic course development, tutoring and management. Lucas directs the BA (Hons) Landscape Architecture team with international versions in China/Hong Kong with IVE staff and WTU, Wuhan.

Lucas Hughes

Prior to BCU he also wrote, developed and ran a fully online level 3 diploma in Professional Landscape Design with the National Design Academy, accredited by Staffordshire University.

Further specialisms include design for urbanism, collaborative and participatory practices/design process, extended reality (XR), crowdsourced data, graphics, design visualisation, publication design, construction and planting design, air quality, management.

LinkedIn: Lucas Hughes

Jieling Xiao

Dr Jieling Xiao is a senior lecturer at Birmingham School of Architecture and Design. As an environmental design specialist, she looks at people’s everyday sensory experiences in cities across different cultures and how architects and urban designers can learn from such. Her research and practice focus on the understanding, assessing and enhancing the perceptual qualities of public spaces via design, public participatory and artistic inputs, using participatory methods.


Taken a user-centred approach, she provides design solutions and creative practises for place-making that interprets and plays with people’s sensory experiences. In the past, she has provided consultancy for the STEAMhouse design, Knowledge Quarter design and the community route project for the Roundhouse Birmingham.

Rasha Sayed

Rasha Sayed is a lecturer in Architecture Engineering and Landscape Architecture. She has 11-years’ experience in academic teaching landscape architecture and architecture with 15 years’ experience in professional Landscape/Architecture projects. Driven by her passion for design and construction, she designed and participated in different architectural and landscape projects.


Rasha graduated from Cairo University in 2004, studied in Scuola Superiore di Catania, Italy 2007-2009, in International Master of Landscape Design and Environmental planning in the Mediterranean area. She has accomplished from 2011-2015 Ph.D. studies under the supervision of Cairo University. She has shared experience in Architecture design, landscape design, urban planning, and design through working with a number of international partners.

Rasha finished her Post Ph.D. in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA and University of Technology Malaysia as a scholar in MIT-UTM Post Ph.D. in Sustainable cities program visiting scholar.

She is a Partner at the community of national organization of urban harmony for the national and protected area and a member of the community responsible for the national guide of urban harmony for natural spaces and protected areas.