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The Unit has invested significantly in the development of the current cohort of early career researchers (ECRs). Since 2014 we have appointed 11 ECRs. ECRs are prioritised for internally funded PhD studentships, are provided with a flexible budget on arrival to establish research directions, and receive collegiate support through highly restricted administrative duties and lighter teaching loads allowing them the necessary intellectual development time, physical resources and guidance to build their research profile. 

Take a look at some of our early career researchers and their work below.


Dr Jiayi Jin

Jiayi (Jennifer) Jin is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Built Environment. Her research is transdisciplinary spanning the fields of architectural theory, spatial morphology, digital technologies, social sciences and cultural studies. Before joining Northumbria, she was the RA for the ‘Augmented Space for Riot 1831’ project at Nottingham Castle (funded by AHRC, NESTA and Arts Council England), and engaged in several research projects on emergent ways of designing the interactive space grounded in the field of Human-Computer Interaction at the Mixed Reality Laboratory (MRL), University of Nottingham. Her current research focuses on the role of new media and technologies in different aspects of knowledge production and socio-spatial linkage generation, designing and developing spatial experiences with physical environment - both indoors and outdoors. Jiayi is also an active researcher on strategic planning for the development of inclusive cities, in response to social, spatial and environmental inequalities.

She is currently the PI for Gender-inclusive Cities and Co-I for the British Academy Project: Shared Understandings of a Sustainable Future: CEoN - Developing a Grassroots Sustainable Futures Platform: Collective Participation in Community-Based Cultural Organisations (SSF\210084).





Shaun Young

Having spent several years working in architectural practice in the UK and Switzerland, Shaun joined Northumbria University as a practice-led PhD candidate in 2016. In 2018 he was promoted to lecturer, carrying on his doctoral research alongside his role as leader of the final year of the undergraduate programme in Architecture. Shaun's research explores potential contemporary applications of concepts and techniques from the eighteenth-century Picturesque in architecture. Rather than a historical curiosity, the Picturesque is seen to have continued value, offering new and critical ways of making architectural proposals in the present. Shaun's research interests are explored through continued architectural practice, where theoretical ideas have found application in a number of architectural projects across the UK. His research is also informed by his teaching practice, with notions of the picturesque explored through MA Design Studios at Northumbria University, Birmingham City University and the University of Nottingham since 2017.


Ben Couture

Ben is a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University. His research interests centre around design in the built environment; covering digital & spatial exhibition environments, intersections of art & architectural space, and modular construction. Prior to joining Northumbria in 2020, Ben founded Jardine Couture Ltd, which operated for 15 years in the UK and Europe. He also has ongoing involvement as a Director of 3rdSpace (Sawhorse Ltd), set up in 2010, creating modular buildings and studios based on the innovative 3rdSpace Modular system. As a practicing designer with a broad portfolio of realised works, his research specialisms draw upon practice-based methodologies. His work has been included in a number of online and print publications.

See more from Ben


Tara HipwoodDr Tara Hipwood

Tara is a Chartered Architect and a Senior Lecturer in Sustainable and Environmental Design in the Department of Architecture at Northumbria University. Her research interests focus around the intersections between occupant wellbeing, the built environment, and the natural environment – and perhaps most importantly where the distinction between these elements breaks down. Tara's Ph.D. studies explored a nexus-of-practice perspective towards teleological influences on owner-occupiers’ home improvements and the implications this has for encouraging low carbon retrofit. She is currently pursuing this interest further through participation in the Wellcome Trust Ideas Hub on Power, Ownership and Mental Health, as well as organising Northumbria University’s contribution to the Environments by Design Conference, to be hosted online in Dec 2021.



Coronavirus: an architect on how the pandemic could change our homes forever, Hipwood, T. 26 May 2020

The Global Challenge of Encouraging Sustainable Living: Opportunities, Barriers, Policy and Practice, Hipwood, T. 2015, In: Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning


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