Dr Mahnaz Shah


mahnaz-shah.jpge: mshah@cardiffmet.ac.uk

Specialist Subject Areas

Architectural and Urban Design History, Theory and Criticism
Convener: Urban Design Research Lab, Cardiff School of Art and Design


PhD Architectural History
MSAE Research Track – Design and Cognition
MA Political Philosophy
BFA Printmaking


Dr Shah obtained a MSAE degree with research interest in cognitive design from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston in 2002. In 2003 she began her PhD research at the Architectural Association. In 2006 she was awarded a full PhD studentship at the Research School, Open University, where she completed her PhD dissertation on the structural formulations and analysis of Le Corbusier’s Venice hospital project 1964 – 1965. She completed her first six month post doctoral training at the Urban Design Studies Unit, University of Strathclyde. From August 2010 to March 2011 she joined the Glasgow Urban Lab, at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. Research included inquiry into Glasgow’s built environment and health inequality. This research was conducted in collaboration with the DRS team at the Glasgow City Council. In August 2011 Dr Shah was awarded the RIBA Research Trust Award.

Principal Publications and/or Exhibitions

  • Invited Lecture: Tidal Energy: An Ecological Design Discourse CroArtScia2015 – Technological Innovations: Art & Science, Zagreb, 27-30 May, 2015
  • Conference Presentation: Re-contextualizing Identity within Design Discourses (with Dr Karina M. Zarzar) . Architectural Design Research Symposium Venice November 2014. An event associated with the New Zealand exhibition at the 2014 Venice Biennale. Organized by the School of Architecture, Victoria University of Wellington.
  • Book: Le Corbusier’s venice Hospital Project 1964-65: An Investigation into its Structural Formulation, Ashgate, London ISBN 978-1-4094-4277-6 (link).
  • Chapter in Book: ‘Venice Hospital: A Study of its Urban Underpinnings’, in The Artistic Legacy of Le Corbusier’smachine a habiter, eds. Novakov, A and Schmidle, E, Lewiston (N.Y. : Edwin Mellen Press, c2008) 131–147 http://www.mellenpress.com/mellenpress.cfm?bookid=7327&pc=9
  • Journal: Ombretta Romice, Sergio Porta and Mahnaz Shah, The psychology of engagement: communities in action, Conservation Bulletin Vol 63, pp. 15-17
  • Invited Lecture: Asymmetrical readings: from the drawing to the diagram – the case of Le Corbusier’s Potato Buildingtypology 1962-1965 presented at: Symposium CroArtScia2013 – Asymmetry: Art&Science&Education, Zagreb, 8-11May, 2013 http://www.irb.hr/Events/Symposia/CroArtScia-2013
  • Conference Presentation: Generative Design Mechanism: City as a Physical Construct, An analysis of the urban context within post-war housing in Amsterdam – Java Island (Dr Karina Zarar and Dr Mahnaz Shah) Generative Design Conference, Milano Italy (December 2013) Department of Architecture, Politecnico di Milano Italy http://www.generativeart.com/ga2013xWEB/proceedings1/13.pdf
  • Conference Presentation: Space-non-Space and the Role of Computational Design to be presented at Computation and Performance 31th eCAADe Conference Sept. 18-20, 2013 Delft University of Technology Faculty of Architecture Delft, the Netherlands http://ecaade2013.bk.tudelft.nl/
  • Conference Presentation: Generative City Code: The Case of Le Corbusier’s Potato Building Typology 1962-65 paper presented at the Generative Design Conference, Luca Italy (December 2012) Department of Architecture, Politecnico di Milano Italy.
  • Conference Presentation: ‘Historical Cities Atlases: Interpretations and Over–Interpretations’. International Conference Descriptio Urbis: Measuring and Representing the Modern and Contemporary City. Rome, Italy 27-29 March 2008.
  • Conference Presentation: ‘Le Corbusier’s Venice Hospital Project 1964–1965: Identifying the Urban Generative Context’ Generative Art Conference 2007, Department of Architecture, Politecnico di Milano, Italy. December 2007.
  • Conference Presentation: ‘Comparative Analysis: The Venice Hospital and the Berlin Free University’, Research Seminar: Precedent and Identity, Faculty of Architecture, Department of Public Buildings. TUDelft, Technische Universiteit Delft, The Netherlands June 22-23 2005.

Other activities

Urban Design Research Lab
UDRL is a research cluster initiated to encourage collaborative projects on architectural and urban design, history, theory and criticism. Applicants interested in applying for research degrees are encouraged to initially join in as research associates and work with us.

Visiting Researcher
2013 Heritage Program-Erasmus Mundus Scholarship:
Satish Shivarudraiah, PhD Research Scholar, India Institute of Technology Guwahati

Live Project

Ignis mutat res
Penser l’architecture, la ville et le paysage au prisme de l’énergie
Programme interdisciplinaire de recherche
3ème session 2013-2015

Award: Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Direction générale des patrimoines / Service de l’architecture, Bureau de la recherche architecturale, urbaine et paysagère Paris

Project Detail: Estuaries and tidal energy
This project aims to examine how the use of tidal energy can contribute to sustainable development of productive activities, and design of habitats and sites energetically autonomous life scales territory, urbanization and architecture.

Tidal energy (in its kinetic or potential form) is a coastal, estuarine or even energy, making it a crucial issue, bearing pressures, but also potential. Renewable energy cannot be relocated, and therefore have an impact on the environment, but they contribute thereby to the feeling of closeness, ownership, energy people, belonging to a ” space energy ” consciousness. Their operation can be regulated by a centralized and technocratic vision, with a tendency to gigantism and deterritorialization of energy resource. In contrast, we explore research hypotheses which, through multiple scales, various activities forming system, imagine the mobilization and control of tidal energy in an integrated manner.

Principal Investigateur Marie-Pascale Corcuff, architecte DPLG, docteur en géographie, maître-assistante à l’ENSAB (STA), directrice de GRIEF.


Urban Design Research Lab
Convener: Mahnaz Shah
Cardiff School of Art and Design, Cardiff Metropolitan University
Équipe d’Accueil 1279 Histoire et Critique des Arts
Directeur : Guillaume Glorieux
U.F.R. A.L.C. – Université Rennes 2 Haute-Bretagne – Place du Recteur Henri Le Moal
CS 24 307 – 35043 Rennes Cedex
COSTEL – LETG UMR 6554 CNRS Pôle de Rennes
Directeur : Hervé Quenol ( Chercheur CNRS, HDR)
Université Rennes 2 Haute-Bretagne (voir adresse plus haut)
Laboratoire MAP-Aria
Responsable scientifique : Hervé Lequay
École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture de Lyon
3 rue Maurice-Audin – BP 170 – 69512 VAULX-EN-VELIN CEDEX
AGROCAMPUS OUEST Centre d’Angers – Institut National d’Horticulture et de Paysage
2 rue André Le Nôtre – 49045 Angers cedex 01
COEUR Émeraude
BP 7 – 1, bis rue Léon Pépin – 22490 PLESLIN-TRIGAVOU

Live Project

(re)Building identities: Lisbon, Paris, Amsterdam, Haifa, Yalta, Cardiff

Funds/Sponsorship/Collaboration: Please contact us at [mshah@cardiffmet.ac.uk] if you are interested in supporting this research or would like to discuss possible collaboration opportunity.

Project Detail: This research aims to explore the vitality between place identity and architectural design thinking in the context of an increasingly globalised world. A series of proposed workshops in select cities intends to (re)open the discussion about the operative reconstruction of identity of city (related to socio-cultural and physical precedents) for the architectural design thinking, and, through this, understand the vitality of a design process in (re)establishing a cultural/place identity. The first workshop intends to establish a critical analysis of two architectural operations in Lisbon area – ‘Chiado’ (1988-) by Álvaro Siza Vieira and Expo’98 – Lisbon 1998 world expo/fair – regarding the operative reconstruction of ‘reality’ and of identity for the architectural design thinking. The second workshop in Paris will be a comparative site analysis of les Halles and Île de la Cité in the Seine. Similar workshops will be conducted in Amsterdam, Haifa and Yalta. Final workshop in Cardiff will review initial findings and formulate much more substantial and detailed research direction.

Dr Karina Moraes Zarzar, dipl. Arch.,MTD, PhD, Zarzar ArchLab, The Nederlands
ir. Joëll Thepen, architect, AECO STUDIO, The Nederlands
Julie Heyde, architect, France
Lauren Havel, architect, France

Research Advisors
Prof Michael Mehaffy
Executive Director, Sustasis Foundation, Portland, OR, US
Faculty of Architecture, Delft University of Technology, NL
Prof Anthony Viscardi
Lehigh University, US
Art, Architecture, and Design

Live Project

Venice as text: Retracing the Egle Trincanato and Giuseppe Samona Archives, (2007–2014) Research initiated during fellowship at the Summer Humanities Program in Venice 2007–2008, in collaboration with Archivo Projetti IUAV, VIU and SSAV, Venice, under the supervision of Prof Donatella Calabi.

Funds/Sponsorship/Collaboration: Please contact us at [mshah@cardiffmet.ac.uk] if you are interested in supporting this research or would like to discuss possible collaboration opportunity.

Completed Projects

Le Corbusier Potato Building Typology: An Analysis, (2011–2013). Research grant of £10,000 awarded by RIBA Research Trust Award 2011 (link)
Generative Design Cities: the case of Amsterdam and Venice (2013) Supported by Seed Fund Award of £1,000 Cardiff Metropolitan University Paper: Generative Design Mechanism: City as a Physical Construct, An analysis of the urban context within post-war housing in Amsterdam – Java Island Generative Design Conference, Milano Italy (December 2013) Department of Architecture, Politecnico di Milano Italy (link).

Awards and Fellowships

2013 SEED Fund Award, CMU
2011 RIBA Research Trust Award
2007–2008 Research Fellowship Summer Humanities Program in Venice, Italy
2006 Full PhD Studentship, Research School, Open University
2005–2006 Scholarship: Master Class with Prof Christopher Alexander. The Princes Foundation, London
2001 Pat Duran Merit Scholarship, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston
2000 Graduate Student of the Year Award, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston