Emre Akbil

School of Architecture

Studio Tutor


Full contact details

Emre Akbil
School of Architecture
Arts Tower
Western Bank
S10 2TN

I am an architect and urbanist working on building speculative relations with social, political, and ecological thresholds of architecture and urbanism to enact minoritarian and commons-based political creations. In my teaching at Sheffield School of Architecture I explore decolonial, feminist and ecological tactics in critical spatial pedagogies. I am currently the co-leader of the MA in Urban Design programme and postgraduate module leader at MA in Architectural Design and studio tutor in the second-year Architecture undergraduate programme.

After training as an architect at Eastern Mediterranean University in Cyprus in 2000 (BA) and 2002 (MArch) and as an urbanist at Bauhaus-Dessau Kolleg, Germany, in 2007 I co-founded Etika Studio - an architectural practice awarded in several architectural and urban design competitions and including the Europa Nostra Award in 2016 as one of the partners of Home for Cooperation project. Together with a group of architects and planners, I have initiated ‘Imaginary Famagusta,’ (IF) an urban practice that navigates the ethnocratic urbanism of Cyprus and produces spatial imaginaries for reconciliation through urban commoning. Our collaborative work formed the Cyprus Pavilion at Venice Biannial of Architecture in 2016.

I had taken an active role in UCTEA Chamber of Architects as an executive board member from 2012-2016. As part of this role, I edited several copies of the architecture journal MIMARCA and co-organised a conference on architectural education.

I continue to engage with practices on the ground that span across geographies co-producing outcomes that support their particular contexts as well as my thinking and teaching in architecture and urbanism. My experience in profession allows me to support students of architecture on professional aspects of the practice in line with the current ecological emergencies surrounding the profession.


BA(Dist.), MArch (Dist.)

Research interests

My research interests are mainly about building concepts and tools for situating critical spatial practices and pedagogies. The tools make use of nomadic, feminist and decolonial methods and theories of subjectivity, power, and politics of space - supporting alliances around urban commons and empowering autonomous collectives.

Research on Urban Commons:

Collaborative research by the Urban Commons Research Group based at SSoA is composed of staff and PhD reserachers from the Design, Engagement and Practice (DEP) Research Group and Pedagogy Practice and Scholarship (PPS) Group as well as other researchers on urban commons from external institutions including Sheffield Hallam, London Met, NTU Athens. Since the set-up of the research team in 2018, we have organised seminars and workshops involving academics as well as urban grassroots groups in order to expand our collective understanding of urban commons and its potentials in democratizing access to and management of resources and urban infrastructures through promoting sustainability and community well-being. The rich and diverse contributions of the team members collated into a research output: the Handbook for Urban Commons due to be printed in 2022 by dpr Barcelona.

Decolonising Representation in Architectural Drawings:

I have co-initiated a pedagogical archive for decolonising representation of human figures in architectural drawings especially at diverse neighbourhoods/contexts.

Feminist Research Group at SSoA:

I have joined the Feminist Research group at SSoA in 2018. The group organised several readings and discussion sessions and contributed to the Feminist Teach-out attended by undergraduate, PGT and PGR students in February 2020. https://feministssoa.group.shef.ac.uk/?p=998

Cartographies of Minor Architectures:

Research is concerned with generating conceptual tools for capturing the heterogeneous voices of minor architectures with nomadic, decolonial, feminist trajectories. For this, a cartographic method is proposed as a relational framework for making visible the concepts and expressions of minor architectures otherwise obscured within dominant architectural narratives.

Urban Commoning for Conflict Transformation:

In 2012, as a group of architects, urbanists, and planners across the Cypriot divide, we formed an ‘informal’ collaborative practice called ‘Imaginary Famagusta’ (IF). IF contributed to forming an initial development plan for the city of Famagusta, re-imagining the city as a multi-enclaved urbanity going beyond the discourses of ethnically divided city. The research led to the project called the Hands-on Famagusta project, (www.hansonfamagusta.org) funded by USAID and UNDP, which aims at forming support structures for citizens enabling them to become active participants in urbanization processes within the conflicted territory of Famagusta. Out of the enclaved and stigmatized territory of Famagusta the project generated a new framework for spatial politics where the urban controversies are imagined beyond ethnic conflict transforming their antagonistic nature into debatable common urban imaginaries. More detail in Footprint magazine, volume 10, number 2, about the strategies and intensions of the project (http://footprint.tudelft.nl/index.php/footprint/article/view/1503) and in the book Guide to Common Imaginaries in Contested Cities, edited by Socrates Stratis, elaborating on the methodological transformation of spatial practices in contested spaces such as Famagusta (https://www.jovis.de/en/books/product/guide-to-common-urban-imaginaries-in-contested-spaces.html). Imaginary Famagusta contributed to the open archives of Contested Fronts exhibited in Cyprus Pavilion, 15th International Biennial of Architecture in Venice, 2016 (http://www.contestedfronts.org/concept). IF also facilitated a workshop and exhibition to promote building alliances for Cypriot Coastal Commons in 2017.

Other Stories of Housing Struggles:

Research targets housing as a nodal point of power and investigates housing struggles as an ecology of practices taking control of their future. We traced the alternative strategies of housing struggles informed by comparative analysis of their initiation, transformation and consolidation phases. 15 exemplar housing struggles distributed across Europe, South and North America were mapped and their spatio-political tools and methods evolving through the phases mentioned. (unpublished collaborative work carried out with Tatjana Schneider at SSoA).

Research group

Pedagogy, Practice and Scholarship Group

Teaching interests

My teaching is shaped by the politics of location, situating learning in relation with struggles, desires, resources and concerns of communities and citizens. I develop minoritarian methodologies that seek to empower citizens and communities through pedagogies of architecture and urbanism. Students learn to center minor social, ecological, and political existences in their work that are often marginalized across multiple vectors.  This approach is supported with ethnographic methodologies that involve working with communities, understanding values embedded in their daily struggles and foregrounding their resources. The diverse knowledges and values learned through localised action helps building situated spatial narratives and imaginaries that feed back into grounded concerns of communities. The engaged learning links the local to the planetary scale, and the urgency of climate breakdown to urban concerns.

Teaching activities

MA in Urban Design Programme (MAUD):

I coordinate the integration and interdependence of theoretical and practical modules such as History and Theory of Urban Design, and Urban Design Tools and Methods modules which frame the relation of urban design pedagogy with politics of location that scales up to the planetary brokenness. I teach Urban Design Project 1 and 2 as lead of ‘Studio City of Margins’ as well as Urban Design Project 3 Thesis research group focusing on ‘Speculative Futures of Urban Commons’.

MA in Architectural Design Programme (MAAD):

I lead the Reflections in Architectural Design module which runs in parallel to the Master’s in Architectural Design studio projects supporting students to reflect on their design processes and form a critical position at each stage of the project.

Year 2 Studio Tutor:

I tutor architecture design projects at Year 2 since 2018. The module focuses on interrelation across themes of climate, culture, and community where students develop their situated architectural approach towards these contemporary themes via small to medium scale civic and housing projects.

Professional activities and memberships
  • architect, UCTEA Chamber of Architects member
  • researcher, Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) member