Photo of Dr Rosa Urbano Gutierrez

Dr Rosa Urbano Gutierrez BArch, MArch, MDesS, PhD

Reader in Architecture Architecture


    Experimental Material Ecologies Research Group [EMERG]

    My research follows two routes. As a historian and theorist, I am interested in documenting and analysing the invention and implementation of historic pioneering sustainable materials and technologies for architecture. My previous work on Le Corbusier’s Mur Neutralisant, and Sustainable Retrofits follow this direction. I am currently continuing research on glass facades, energy and heritage to develop two new books. [In]Genious Glass, which aims to discuss original examples of the use of glass in architecture by prominent architects; and Glass and Light, focused on the evolution of the glass façade in its relationship with daylight control technology, from mid 19th century to present-day. The idea is to present a new reading of how glass as an architectural material played a key role in the definition and advancement of design, but also evidence how modernist architects, normally accused of not being interested in the environmental performance of their buildings, developed progressive thinking in this direction through design, prototypes and built examples, that have influenced our contemporary practice.

    As the founding director of the Environmental Ceramics for Architecture Laboratory (ECAlab, 2011) and HouseLab (2020), my research developed a new methodology to optimise the integration of ecological performance in the design process by bridging various fields, from advanced digital prototyping, environmental simulation and building tectonics to craft, psychophysics and inclusive design. Within ECAlab I investigated energy efficient, low resource intensive architectural surfaces producing 85 innovative designs and 46 building prototypes. ECAlab has collaborated with the Spanish cluster of ceramic manufacturers for 10 years, as well as with local industrial partners, such as Granby Workshop and a network of international professional practices of architects and ceramicists. This work has been showcased in three major events in collaboration with three British world-class institutions: Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA, 2017-18), TATE (2018) and The Building Centre (2019-20). The film Moulding Futures illustrates the works, methodologies and concepts of ECAlab and was nominated for best film in the category "Reshaping the Economy" of the 2018 tve Global Sustainability Film Awards at BAFTA, London. With the creation of HouseLab, I am expanding my research scope to engage in the production of buildings and policy by developing neglected areas of inclusive, human-centred design. My current project on the design of a sensory pavilion for autistic children, NonStandard House, in collaboration with Elm Tree School (Lancashire), works in this direction.

    Through ECAlab and HouseLab, I am interested in the creation of platforms to enable opportunities for innovation by connecting professionals, industry and research, but also to improve communication between areas by developing tools that support architectural education. My book Elements of Sustainable Architecture and the online database D-LITE (Database of Light-Interacting Technologies for Envelopes) were developed as tools to better integrate sustainable thinking in buildings from an architect standpoint.


    Within my Experimental Material Ecologies Research Group (EMERG), I supervise PhD students on a range of subjects. I am currently supervising the following research projects:

    Current PhD Students
    - Tongyao Lin. Adaptive Therapeutic Environment for People with ASD Based on a Neurofeedback Cyber-Physical Architectural System (2023-2026)
    - Yuhan Li. From Fractals and Space-Filling curves to Architecture: Designing a Non-Linear Façade using 3D-Concrete Printing of Extra-Light Porous Panels (2023-2026)
    - Juan Rivera Soriano. The Sustainable Modernity (2021-2025) Funded by Minciencias, Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation
    - Khawlah Tarim. Defining a Sustainable Biophilic Design Framework in a Hot and Dry Climate (Desert Environment) (2021-2025) Funded by King AbdulAziz University
    - Lewis Jones. Recycled Ceramics: Innovations in the Production of Sustainable Architectural Surfaces (2020-2024) Funded by Low Carbon Eco Innovatory Programme- European Regional Development Funds
    - Deyan Quan. A Parametric Form Language for Fibre Reinforced Concrete Prefabricated Façade Elements Using 3D Printed Formwork (2020-2024)
    - Mehmet Arif Aktoğ. Energy Optimisation during AEC Conceptual Design (2019-2024) Funded by the Turkish Ministry of National Education
    - Chitraj Bissoonauth. Toolmaking in Parametric Façade Design (2019-2024)

    Completed Supervised Projects

    ECR Mentorships

    - Dr Tavs Jorgensen. Smart Tooling for Ceramic Profile Extrusion: New Approaches to Industrially Focused Interdisciplinary Practice Based Research (funded by AHRC, 2019-2021)

    PGR Students
    - Bekir Tekkin. A New Framework for Biophilic Design Based on Post-Occupancy Evaluations in Therapeutic Facilities (2023) Funded by the Turkish Ministry of National Education
    - Ali Al-Graiti. Evaluating the environmental performance of nanomaterials in architecture (2021) Funded by the Iraqi Education Department.
    - Sureepan Supansomboon. Classroom Façade Design for Daylighting in a Tropical Hot-Humid Climate (2019)
    - Mai Khalfan. Assessment of the Passivhaus Standard for a Hot Climate: a case study of Qatar (2016)

    I welcome inquiries from prospective students who wish to pursue a PhD in Sustainable Architecture and Environmental Design, particularly projects relating to:
    - History and Theory of Glass, Ceramics, and Light in Architecture
    - Design and Advanced Materials and Technologies
    - Building Envelopes
    - Specialist Environments for Health and Wellbeing

    Research Grants

    Illuminating Through Ceramics Project


    September 2011 - July 2020

    Research Collaborations

    Sarah Bailey, Dave Lamb

    External: Elm Tree community Primary School

    Development of sensory suite for children with special needs

    Lewis Jones

    External: Granby Workshop

    Project within the Low Carbon Eco Innovatory programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund

    Vanessa Norwood

    External: The Building Centre [London]

    Hand Held to Super Scale Exhibition

    TATE |Exchange Programme

    External: TATE Liverpool

    PlatFORM Project

    Suzy Jones

    External: RIBA North

    Ceramica Exhibition


    External: Association of Ceramic Tile Manufacturers of Spain