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Lab Management

Director: Professor Mathew Aitchison

Dr. Mathew Aitchison is Professor in Architecture at the University of Sydney, where he directs the Innovation in Applied Design Lab. Previously, he was Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture, and ATCH Centre Manager (2010-13). Mathew is a researcher, teacher and designer with extensive international experience. He currently directs three major research projects exploring modular housing, prefabrication and the advanced manufacture of multi-storey housing. Mathew has published widely across a range of subjects. Book publications include: Visual Planning and the Picturesque (Getty, 2010), the first publication of Nikolaus Pevsner’s treatise on urban design and architecture, The Architecture Of Industry: Changing Paradigms In Industrial Building And Planning, (Ashgate, 2014); and, most recently, Prefab Housing and the Future of Building: Product to Process (Lund Humphries, forthcoming).

Academic Profile


Lab Manager: Dr Rachel Couper

Dr Rachel Couper is the Manager of the Innovation in Applied Design Lab and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Lab. She recently completed her PhD with the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney, during which she was awarded a full Byera Hadley Travelling Scholarship by the NSW Architects Registration Board. Rachel has been awarded a Masters in Architecture (Honours), a Bachelor of Architecture, and a Bachelor of Arts (Visual). Rachel has a successful record in design, research and teaching at the University of Sydney and the College of Fine Arts at the University of New South Wales.


Project and Programs Administrator: Isabel Samaha

After being awarded a Bachelor of Fine Art and a Bachelor of Arts, Isabel studied law for 3 years before coming to her senses. Isabel is the Project and Programs Administrator for the Innovation in Applied Design Lab. She was previously the Manager of the Indoor Environmental Quality Lab.


Affiliated Members

Professor Jose Torero Cullen

Professor José L. Torero is the Head of the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland. He is a leader in the field of Fire Safety Engineering where he specializes in the behaviour of fire in complex environments such as forests, tall buildings, novel architectures, tunnels, aircraft and spacecraft. He holds a BSc for the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (1989), and an MSc (1991) and PhD (1992) from the University of California, Berkeley. Jose is a Chartered Engineer (UK), a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering (UK) and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (UK). Jose joined The University of Queensland in 2012 following appointments as the Landolt & Cia Chair in Innovation for a Sustainable Future at Ecole Polytechnique Fédéral de Lausanne, BRE Trust/RAEng Professor of Fire Safety Engineering at The University of Edinburgh, Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and Charge de Recherche at the French National Centre for Scientific Research.



Professor John Macarthur

Professor John Macarthur (M.Des.St UQ, PhD Cambridge) is Director of the Architecture, Theory, Criticism and History (ATCH) research centre at the University of Queensland. His research focuses on the intellectual history of architecture, particularly its relation to other art disciplines and to aesthetics. His major work, The Picturesque: architecture, disgust and other irregularities, was published by Routledge in 2007. John has edited six books and published over 120 papers including contributions to the journals Assemblage, Transition, Architecture Research Quarterly, Oase and the Journal of Architecture.


Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Dr Sarah Breen Lovett

Dr Sarah Breen Lovett is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Innovation in Applied Design Lab as LP13 project manager and researcher. Sarah explores shifting understandings of self through the built and landscape environments in her research, curation and spatial art practice. Sarah has instigated and been included in many exhibitions, symposiums and publications at the inter-disciplinary meeting point of art and architecture. The title of her recently completed PhD is “Expanded Architectural Awareness: Exploring Intersections of Architecture and Expanded Cinema”. Her recent publications include Expanded Architecture: Temporal Formal, published in cooperation with the Bauhaus Foundation Dessau, by AADR. Sarah also has forthcoming chapters in "Making Visible: Architecture Filmmaking" published by Intellect and "Flow: Between Interior and Landscape” published by Bloomsbury.

Academic Profile



Dr Eugenia Gasparri

Dr Eugenia Gasparri is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Innovation in Applied Design Lab at The University of Sydney on the CRC Project 2016. She graduated in Building Engineering at Politecnico di Milano in 2012, and simultaneously achieved a double degree with ASP excellence program, developing a technology-driven project in the field of systems integration for off-site prefabricated building components. In 2016, she completed her PhD with honours, achieving the title of Doctor Europaeus. Her research focused on tall timber constructions characterized by high degree of prefabrication. During her research path, she was appointed as visiting PhD fellow at the Technical University of Munich (Germany) and the University of British Columbia (Canada). More recently, she worked as head of R&D for Askeen srl, an Italian start-up dealing with tailored façade components.

Academic Profile



Dr David Kroll

Born in Berlin, David Kroll qualified as an architect in London. He has a background in professional practice, academic teaching and research, and is particularly interested in housing-related topics and sustainable design. In architectural practice, David was involved in several high-profile projects including concrete prefab housing at the Athletes’ Village, the Darwin Centre Two for C.F. Moller Architects and the Brisbane airport extension for BVN. His PhD on the history of speculative housing in London was shortlisted for the RIBA President’s Research Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis 2015. He held lecturing positions at the University of East London, Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Kent. In 2015 he relocated to Australia, where he has lectured in architecture in the Construction and Environment stream at the University of South Australia.

Academic Profile


Dr David Tapias Monne

David Tapias is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Innovation in Applied Design Lab at The University of Sydney, working on the CRC-P16 project. He graduated from the ETSAB in Barcelona, and completed his PhD dissertation on the maison Prouvé in the same institution in 2013, in collaboration with the MNAM at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. He is accredited as a Full Professor by the ANECA (Spanish Ministry of Education). David has learnt and taught at the ear URV (Reus) and The Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture (Taliesin West, Arizona); and lectured in numerous national and international architecture schools, institutions and congresses. His works have been published in several peer-reviewed journals, received multiple recognitions and exhibited at four Venice Architecture Biennales and the Cité de l’architecture & de patrimoine in Paris.

Academic Profile


PhD Candidates

Toktam Bashirzadeh Tabrizi

PhD Candidate

Toktam Bashirzadeh Tabrizi is a PhD Candidate at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Her research focuses on minimising the environmental impacts associated with the life cycle of buildings. She is currently investigating strategies to simplify the LCA methodology and to enable designers to identify effective variables that contribute to the environmental performance of a building when selecting materials at the early design stage. She was a lecturer at IAUM until 2013 and has worked as a registered Architect (2nd Rank, Design & Supervision) in Iran. She also tutors at the University of Sydney in the Architectural Science program.



Aaron Bolanos Cuevas

Adjunct PhD Candidate

Aaron Bolanos Cuevas is a PhD candidate at the School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland. His research is focused on lightweight sandwich panels, their structural behaviour and fire performance. The primary objective of his work is to determine the key properties and criterion that interact together from each of those two areas in order to optimize the design of said construction materials. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Business Administration before commencing his current studies in early 2016. Taking part of local and multinational companies, and by starting his own practice, Aaron has accumulated a working experience of 10 years in diverse civil engineering areas, such as geotechnical, power generation, commercial construction and fire protection.



Monique Clark

PhD Candidate

Monique graduated from Sydney University with first class honours in 2005. She was a senior architect with Johnson Pilton and Walker playing an integral role in the design and construction of the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra, AGNSW storage facility and a multi-story residential tower at One Central Park, amongst other projects. Most recently Monique was a senior architectural consultant to the Art Gallery of NSW to oversee the SANAA designed Sydney Modern Project. She has now embarked on an area of personal interest, becoming a PhD candidate with the University of Sydney with industry partner Precision Housing to develop a digital platform for open source design opportunities.



Graham Day

PhD Candidate

Graham’s industrial career spanned more than 30 years, focusing on aerospace manufacturing, support and research in both the military and commercial aircraft environments. Since 2012 he decided to pursue his passions in architecture and industrial design technologies by completing a Bachelor of Architecture at the Queensland University of Technology with first class honours and has now commenced a PhD, exploring a formal methodology for knowledge based design within the Architectural Engineering and Construction industries.



Robert Doe

PhD Candidate

Robert is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning, University of Sydney. He is also a UK and Australian registered architect, with seven years experience of architectural practice in Brisbane, plus fifteen years in the UK where he specialised in social housing and prefabrication. He also completed a Master of Studies Degree, Inter-disciplinary Design in the Built Environment, at Cambridge University. For the past three years he has tutored architectural students at Queensland University of Technology and Griffith University. His current research interest combines his experience of prefabricated home design with newly emerging computational design tools, which promise to improve outcomes.



Ivana Kuzmanovska

PhD Candidate

Ivana Kuzmanovska is an Associate Lecturer and recently appointed PhD candidate in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Her research examines the opportunities and limitations of integration within the context of industrialised construction, with a particular focus on digital fabrication and assembly techniques. Ivana completed her Bachelor of Design in Architecture and Master of Architecture (Honours) at the University of Sydney. She has worked in practice locally and abroad, and has taught at the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales.



Duncan Maxwell

PhD Candidate

Duncan Maxwell is a PhD Candidate at The University of Sydney, and a Registered Architect in Queensland. With practice experience focusing on residential commissions in the sub-tropics and cultural public projects in regional Australia, in 2014 Duncan took up an offer to pursue a PhD as part of the multi-disciplinary team in the Innovation in Applied Design Lab working on the ARC Linkage Project: “The Design and Construction of Quality, Sustainable and Affordable Pre-Made Housing in Australia – Optimisation and Integration”. Duncan’s research concerns the ‘softer’ side of prefab: how integrated design practices can result in more responsive housing design - for clients, context and design team.



Alexandra McRobert

PhD Candidate

Alexandra McRobert is a PhD Candidate at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Since graduating from the Master of Architecture, Alexandra has worked locally in the architecture industry as a project coordinator, where her work encompassed housing across a number of scales from granny flats through to large mixed-use sustainable developments. Through her studies and career, Alexandra has also completed a number of design and practical studios in developing countries across Asia and Central America, looking at socially sustainable housing and communities. Her current research is focused on how prefabricated housing could help to improve housing affordability.



Jonathan Nelson

PhD Candidate

Jonathan Nelson is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Abedian School of Architecture, Bond University (Queensland, Australia), and also a Director of the design and fabrication practice, Studio Workshop. He holds a Master of Construction Practice from Bond and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Oregon. His background includes work as a software developer at Autodesk and private practice in San Francisco. Jonathan is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Sydney, and director of the Architectural Robotics Lab at the Abedian School.



Ben Slee

PhD Candidate

Ben Slee is an Architect with an interest in sustainable design. Ben had a catholic training in architecture working on medieval buildings, cutting edge environmental design and building schools in Uganda with the leading UK design practices. In Australia he has started his own practice and developed his interest in understanding building performance through research at the University of Sydney. He led a project that asks fundamental questions about how we use thermal mass in buildings and is currently investigating strategies for improving the performance of demountable classrooms. People are central to both his practice and research. Ben recently submitted his PhD for examination.



Gerardo Soret Cantero

Adjunct PhD Candidate

Gerardo is performing his PhD studies in The School of Civil Engineering at The University of Queensland. His research project explores quantitative methodologies to achieve an integrated building performance approach, bringing together thermal efficiency, acoustics and fire safety critical conditions. He has a multidisciplinary background starting from his education achieving a Technical Engineering Degree (Mechanics, UPCO-ICAI, 1999) and a Licentiate Degree in Materials Engineering (UCM-ULg, 2001). He has over 10 years’ professional expertise on thermal and sales engineering at the Swedish company Alfa Laval and innovation on the structural engineering field, being awarded with a Gold medal and an exhibition Prize, and honoured with a Special Mention for New Techniques and Products at the 36th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in Switzerland.