Nishat Awan

Dr Nishat Awan

Senior Lecturer

Room 14.20
T: 0114 222 0313

I was appointed Lecturer at Sheffield in 2012 and I have previously worked as a research associate at Sheffield and a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Technical University Berlin. I have previously taught at Goldsmiths, University of London and University of East London and have also worked in practice in London for several years. I am interested in questions of diversity, migration and geo-politics and how these can be addressed through spatial practice. I address some of these issues in my work with OPENkhana, a collaborative that works between architectural, computational and artistic practice.

Teaching Activities

I have led the MA in Architectural Design (MAAD) course and most of my teaching has been at post-graduate level including leading design studios and modules on critical spatial theory and design methodologies.

Research Interests

The intersection of geo-politics and space and how this might be addressed in architectural theory and practice, including questions of post-coloniality, diasporas and border practices. Currently, I am working on two research projects:

1. Topological Atlas: Mapping Borders as complex spaces of encounter
(supported by a Faculty of Social Sciences grant)

In a world of rising inequalities and growing conflict borders are at once hardening, through the building of fences and walls, and becoming more dispersed and complex, through governmental practices of visa control and detention. We need ways to make sense of these increasingly complex and intertwined spaces. This project aims to develop a transdisciplinary research programme for analysing and intervening in border areas in the form of a digital atlas. Topological Atlas is a digital tool for large-scale territorial research at border sites. It uses topology as conceptual framework and methodology to produce maps that are inherently ‘dislocative’ and that seek to distort the cartographic norms that are being reinforced through the prevalence of GIS technology and mapping platforms such as Google Earth. Specifically, the project investigates new forms of cartography adapted to multicultural environments and border conditions and proposes a new model for researching border areas beyond the current top-down international relations or security perspective. At the same time it acknowledges the intertwined relationship between the practice of academic inquiry, the knowledge it produces and what such knowledge can do.

2. Edge of Europe: Migrant Narratives of Citizenship
(supported by Independent Social Science Research Foundation)

Where are the edges of Europe, how are they defined and who can be included within them? This project aims to uncover lived narratives of citizenship that describe modes of European belonging beyond the traditional norm of birth right. Through working with local actors, visualising these narratives and making them public, the project aims to challenge our conceptions of Europe and its citizens. The increasing popularity of anti-European parties, anti-immigration rhetoric, the crisis in Greece and the conflict in Ukraine, all point towards a growing uncertainty around the European project. There is a need for an informed and accessible debate on these issues that is able to distil the complexity of the issues with the everyday realities of people caught at the edge of Europe. The emerging methodological strand of ‘mapping’ in architecture and other visual disciplines is well placed to do this, combining spatial visualisations, video and GPS enhanced modes of research with the disciplinary skill to produce compelling visual outputs that foreground spatial and social relations. Mapping has also been central to the way in which state entities represent themselves and through such representations define citizens and non-citizens. The aim of the Topological Atlas of European Belonging is to produce other representations that are drawn not from the perspective of those in power, but from those at the margins. It will map Europe from a migrant perspective of those who inhabit its edges, those who are in transit, and those hoping to enter the European Union (EU).

Postgraduate Research Supervision Interests

Borders and migration; Post-colonial theory, geo-politics and spatial practice; Mapping and other creative research methodologies; The intersection of culture and technology.

Research Students

First supervisor:

1. Cagri Sanliturk (Cyprus), Borders & conflict in Cyprus (completion 2017), EU scholarship
2. Cressida Kocienski (UK), Speaking across spaces: Contemporary perspectives on the narration of contested sites, UoS Studentship (completion 2020)
3. Iulia Hurducas (Romania), Hybrid Exchanges: Researching migration in Romania, UoS Studentship (as part of 2022 Futures Biohybrid network) (completion 2018)
4. Aya Musmar (Jordan), Camp Architecture (completion 2018)

Grants and Awards

Independent Social Science Research Foundation – Early Career Fellowship (£50,000)

ERC Development Fellowship, Faculty of Social Sciences, UoS (£37,500)

3x 2022 Futures funded Biohybrid Human Network PhD Studentships, UoS. (Part of winning team - approx. £169,000)

Co-Investigator on AHRC grant, Cultural Value of Architecture (£50,000)

Borderscape Pakistan 2015 Edge of Europe 2015 Spatial Agency 2011 Diasporic Agencies 2016


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of recent publications please click here.


  • Awan N (2016) Diasporic Agencies: Mapping the City Otherwise. Routledge. View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Awan N, Schneider T & Till J (2011) Spatial Agency: Other ways of doing architecture. Routledge. RIS download Bibtex download

Journal articles


  • Awan N (2014) Diasporic experience and the need for topological methods In Blundell Jones P & Meagher M (Ed.), Architecture and Movement The Dynamic Experience of Buildings and Landscapes (pp. 251-257). Routledge View this article in WRRO RIS download Bibtex download
  • Awan N (2012) Re-mapping Kurdistan In Tyszczuk R, Smith J, Clarke N & Butcher M (Ed.), ATLAS: Geography, architecture and change in an interdependent world (pp. 42-47). Black Dog RIS download Bibtex download


  • Awan N (2017, October 31) Edges of Europe. Yorkshire Sculpture Park. RIS download Bibtex download

Edited books

  • Bohn K, Ritzmann K & Awan N (Eds.) (2012) Spiel/Feld Urbane Landwirtschaft: Praxisorientiertes Entwerfen und Ökologische Bildung. Berlin: Stadt & Ernährung. RIS download Bibtex download
  • Petcou C, Petrescu D & Awan N (Eds.) (2011) Trans-Local-Act: Cultural Practices within and across. Peprav. RIS download Bibtex download