Carolyn Butterworth

BA(Hons), DipArch(Dist), ARB, SFHEA

School of Architecture

Senior University Teacher

Director of Live Works

Carolyn Butterworth
+44 114 222 0308

Full contact details

Carolyn Butterworth
School of Architecture

I am Director of ‘Live Works’, Sheffield School of Architecture's pioneering Urban Room that combines live teaching, graduate employment, civic engagement and participatory research. Live Works supports and enhances the socially-engaged aspects of the School of Architecture's teaching and research, including our Live Projects modules where MArch and MA Architectural Design students work with community clients on projects that make a real social impact.

I am a passionate advocate of the value of 'liveness' and of the arts in architectural education. I teach the value of engaging with local communities creatively on site, often in collaboration with artists. Connecting socially-engaged architecture and site-specific art practice, my MArch studio works ‘in residence’, evolving ambitious real and speculative design projects that act as catalysts for change.

I studied architecture at Sheffield School of Architecture and The Bartlett School, UCL. My practice CV includes Director of van Heyningen and Haward in London and my own practice in London and Sheffield. I have experience of running complex building projects from inception to construction, in the education and cultural sectors. I have taught at the Sheffield School of Architecture since 2001 and have been a full-time teacher since 2011. Through Live Works I explore with students and community partners alternate forms of practice where the role of the architect is reconstructed as ethical practitioner and spatial activist.

I am External Examiner for the MArch course at London Metropolitan University, Founding Chair of the Urban Rooms Network and a Director of the Guild of St George, John Ruskin’s education charity for arts, craft and the rural economy.

In 2017 I was awarded a Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy and in 2016 I was awarded a University Senate Fellowship for Sustained Excellence in Learning & Teaching.

  • BA(Hons)
  • DipArch(Dist)
  • Prof. Cert. RIBA Part 3
  • Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy
Research interests

My research is led by my teaching and is practice and pedagogy based. I explore the creative possibilities of interdisciplinary art/architecture practice produced collectively on-site. I have an expertise in design research methodologies, with a specific focus on arts-based and participatory approaches.

In particular I explore the following through my research:

  • co-production between students, academics, external partners and local citizens
  • the reframing of the site survey as an active, transformative and collaborative tool

I am PI for ‘Urban Education Live’ a JPI Europe/ESRC funded research project working with academic partners and NGOs in Finland, Slovenia and Romania. This is a 3 year project, based at Live Works, which explores the ‘local hub’ as a model for collaboration between universities and urban communities. Local hubs are physical spaces, permanent and temporary, that are situated in high streets and neighbourhoods where students, researchers and local people can work together on the future of their place.

Through Live Works I partner with students, graduates, academics and community groups to deliver participatory action research, for example:

  • 2018 AHRC ‘Experience Castlegate’
  • 2016 AHRC ‘Leap of Faith’
  • 2014 AHRC ‘The Cultural Value of Architecture’


C. Butterworth and R. Lawrence, 2015. ‘Provocateurs or Consultants? the role of Sheffield School of Architecture in the co-production of Castlegate an interview with Carolyn Butterworth’, in K. Trogal, I. Bauman, R. Lawrence, D. Petrescu (ed.s), Architecture and Resilience: Disciplinary Dialogues, London; New York: Routledge, 2019, pp. 131-140. ISBN: 978-1-138-06580-2

C. Butterworth, 2016. A Certain Degree of Uncertainty: embracing risk in the thesis project via the ‘creative survey’, AAE 2016, UCL

C. Butterworth & C. Cunningham, Imagine Castlegate, published by The University of Sheffield 2015 ISBN 978-0-9929705-6-7



  • Kossak F, Schneider T, Cerulli C, Tyszczuk R, Butterworth C, AGENCY & Fram-menti (2012) Taking Part / transformative practices in the city In Gianni E (Ed.), Workshop 2011; Facolta di Architettura di Venezia (pp. 22-27). Venice: Marsilio Editori. RIS download Bibtex download

Conference proceedings papers

  • Chiles P & Butterworth C (2011) Field diaries. ARCHITECTURE AND FIELD/WORK, Vol. 6 (pp 129-137) RIS download Bibtex download


  • Awan N, Samuel F, Butterworth C, Handler S & Lintonbon J (2014) AHRC Cultural Value of Architecture in Homes and Neighbourhoods Report View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
Research group

Pedagogy, Practice & Scholarship (PPS)

Design Engagement Practice (DEP)


Urban Education Live 2017-2021, JPI-Europe/ESRC Smart Urban Futures programme, €1.05M (£330k UEL: Sheffield)

Experience Castlegate 2018, AHRC Immersive Experiences programme, £75k

Teaching interests

I teach so that the work we do in the School of Architecture has real agency outside the University and can make a real difference to the communities we work with. I encourage students to take a feminist approach and explore how they can collaborate with others to make the production of the built environment more inclusive, sustainable and just. This activist approach of ‘liveness’ is exemplified in my studio ‘In Residence’, in Live Projects and in Live Works. In my teaching I use situated and relational methods, often inspired by art practice, to create a learning environment where open conversations and collective enquiry lead to new forms of spatial production. I encourage students to develop ambitious projects out of real contexts - projects that they can pursue with passion and that can also have a real social impact.

I am an advocate for more interdisciplinary collaboration and ‘liveness’ in higher education. I have recently collaborated with colleagues from Urban Studies and Planning, Archaeology, ScHARR, Engineering and Computer Science and I am an active member of the Engaged Learning Network.

I have also lectured and reviewed at a number of UK and International schools of architecture including Ion Mincu University Romania, Tecnologico de Monterrey Mexico, Hasselt University Belgium, IUAV Italy, Harbin Institute Technology China, The Bartlett UCL, Welsh School of Architecture Cardiff, Arts University Bournemouth and Nottingham University.

Teaching activities

MArch Studio ‘In Residence’:

Based at Live Works and exploring the role of arts and culture in the city, we use site-specific methods from installation art, performance and relational art to develop both real and speculative design proposals that have an active relationship to site and users. We do this in collaboration with arts organisations and community groups, forming long-term relationships that make a real difference to the areas we work in. In Residence projects cover the full range from the deliverable to the highly speculative, yet all play a role in challenging existing structures and proposing more equal and sustainable forms of urban production.

Live Works:

I set up Live works in 2014 with Leo Care. This initiative gives students the opportunity to engage with the public from a city centre location through workshops, debates and exhibitions for their Live Projects and Studio projects. We also employ students and graduates to work with community clients on real projects, often emerging from Live Projects. This is an excellent opportunity for us to support graduates as they embark upon their future practice careers.

Live Projects:

I led Live Projects between 2010-2020 and mentor projects that have an arts and regeneration emphasis inc. People’s Kitchen Pitsmoor, The Umbrella Factory, Revealing the Castle, Blackburn Creative Capital, Spatial Resonances, Art House Wakefield, Sheffield Central Library and A Vision for Accrington.

Architectural Research Methodologies:

Y5 MArch module ARC553 - an introduction to masters level research/design approaches that centres on the Theory Forum, a one-day School of Architecture conference exploring a contemporary issue.

Design Manifesto:

Y6 MArch module ARC583 - this accompanies the thesis project and is a statement of critical intent that sets the agenda for design development.

I also supervise UG Special Studies, MArch Dissertations and PhDs

Professional activities and memberships
  • External Examiner MArch, School of Architecture, London Metropolitan University, 2020-24
  • Founding Chair of the national Urban Rooms Network, 2015-18 - set up to implement a recommendation from the Farrell Review:
  • Director of John Ruskin’s Guild of St George - leading on their community engagement and cultural programme:
  • Member of the Castlegate Partnership - working with Sheffield Council, local businesses, organisations and community groups to co-produce community and heritage-led regeneration
  • External Examiner BA(Hons) Architecture and MArch, Arts University Bournemouth, 2015-19
  • Member of the Architect’s Registration Board (ARB)
Teaching awards
  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 2017
  • University Senate Fellowship for Sustained Excellence in Learning & Teaching 2016
  • Teaching Excellence in Social Sciences (TESS) award, 2014
  • Since 2014 Live Works has received funding from UoS Partnerships and Regional Engagement, ReNew, UnLtd, and UoS Enterprise
  • HEA Teaching Development Award, 2011