PhD student Farouq Tahar is first author on paper about the use and experience of public and secular space by Muslims.

Architecture PhD student Farouq Tahar is the lead author on a new paper in the journal Religions that demonstrates the importance of Muslim community participation in urban design.

A view of the Arts Tower and the hills of Sheffield

Congratulations to Farouq for this great achievement. The paper is called “Spatial Reflections on Muslims’ Segregation in Britain” and is co-authored by Dr Asma Mehan, from the College of Architecture at Texas Tech University and Sheffield School of Architecture's Dr Krzysztof Nawratek, and published in the journal Religion.

The article presents a nuanced analysis of a post-secular urban landscape, examining the interplay between secular and sacred domains in the context of a multiethnic British city in the 21st century. As it questions these categories' intellectual and practical significance, the study offers preliminary suggestions for enhancing the success of projects within similar ethnic and religious settings. Additionally, the article raises compelling academic inquiries regarding the influence of religious perspectives and practices in progressively secular societies.

Dr Krzysztof Nawratek

Director of Research, Sheffield School of Architecture

To help us understand the importance behind the research we asked Farouq some questions. 

Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your previous studies?
A: After completing my undergraduate architectural and urbanism studies in Algeria, I moved to Sheffield in 2010. A few years later, I earned a Master of Arts in Architectural Design with distinction from Sheffield School of Architecture, which led me to work for a Saudi Arabian research institute. Since then, I gradually developed an interest in research and academia until I enrolled for a PhD course part-time in 2018/2019.

Q: What is the paper about?
A: The aim of this paper is to draw attention to the spatial implications of the Muslims' religious, social and cultural practices at local level, and to show that sacred and secular public spaces are interconnected with blurry boundaries between them from Muslims' perspective.

Q: What does it feel like to have your work published?
A: This is my first publication as a first author (I contributed to a previous publication as a third author with the same co-authors). Having some work reviewed and assessed by experts in the field, then published after several rounds of corrections with great attention to detail, certainly builds a sense of pride, and strengthens the drive for more work to be accomplished and published.    

Q: Why is this area of research important to you?
A: As a Muslim architect in the UK, I have been interested in the social dimensions of architecture and urbanism since my master's studies. Thus, exploring the field of architecture from this angle contributes to the academic debate within British society, which eventually helps to shape the built environment policies and beyond. 

Q: Do you have any words of advice to students considering a PhD in Architecture?
A:  It is my general advice to students considering a PhD in Architecture to pursue a research topic that is strongly related to their motivation, and beneficial to society.  I also think that Sheffield School of Architecture along with the city of Sheffield offer an amazing and welcoming learning and socialising atmosphere for students, as I always call it, it is a students' city.  

The paper is available online at


Find a PhD

Search for PhD opportunities at Sheffield and be part of our world-leading research.