Richard Coyne BArch MLArch PhD RIBA RIAS FRSA
Professor of Architectural Computing

Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture: Edinburgh College of Art
The University of Edinburgh
20 Chambers Street
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 131 650 2332
Fax: +44 (0) 131 650 8019
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I collaborate with John Lee, Jules Rawlinson, Miguel Paredes, Penny Travlou and a team of about 10 PhD students and research associates. Research themes interact with project work in a suite of digital MSc programmes.

I research and teach in the areas of architectural and design theory, computer-aided design in architecture, and the philosophy of technology. As well as teaching in the undergraduate Architecture programme, I’m involved in two postgraduate degrees.

My research demonstrates the value of a broad interdisciplinary framework for examining the relationship between technology, design, and contemporary cultural theories. I’ve investigated the way people configure spaces through the use of digital social networks and mobile devices. I’ve developed this theme through the sonic metaphor of tuning, and more recently through the concept of mood.

As contributions to architecture I co-authored Interpretation in Architecture: Design as a Way of Thinking with Adrian Snodgrass, and wrote a book for the Routledge Thinkers for Architects series entitled Derrida for Architects.

Major Roles and Committees

  • Head of the School of Arts, Culture and Environment (2008-2011)
  • Member of the AHRC review panel: Visual Arts and Media (practice, history and theory) (until 2008)
  • Member of the RAE Architecture and Built Environment subpanel 30 (2007-8)
  • Member of the REF Architecture, Built Environment and Town Planning subpanel (C16)
  • Member of the editorial board of arq: Architectural Research Quarterly
  • Member of the Board of Governors of Edinburgh College of Art (2008-2011)
  • Chair of RIBA Research Awards judging panel (2007-2009)
  • Member of the Higher Education Academy
  • Chair of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) (2015)
  • Dean of Postgraduate Research in the College of Humanities and Social Science (2013-2016)

I’m a registered architect (Australia), and previously worked at the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne. I’m a member of the RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects), the RIAS (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland), the HEA (Higher Education Academy), a Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society of Arts), and a Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge.

Personal statement

After studying architecture at the University of Melbourne I worked for several firms of architects on projects ranging from Melbourne’s World Trade Centre to a small holiday home at Lorne. I joined an eager group of fellow ex-students and tutors who worked day and night to submit an entry to the Canberra Parliament House competition, which had we won would have set us on a different course!

I developed an interest in landscape and embarked on a two-year master of landscape architecture degree in Melbourne, during which time I developed a fascination with computer graphics programming. This led me to the University of Sydney, where I undertook a PhD with John Gero in what was then the bourgeoning field of artificial intelligence. I focussed on the use of Prolog for expert systems, and published the outcome as a book with Pitman Press, followed by the co-authored Knowledge-Based Design Systems (Addison Wesley). I then taught in the Masters programmes in Sydney and several design studios with Tony Radford and Adrian Snodgrass.

Snodgrass introduced me to philosophy and architectural theory. Engagement with the practices of the design studio and my increasing awareness of the limits of computation led me to embark on a series of critiques of digital cultures. The first was the book Designing Information Technology in the Postmodern Age: From Method to Metaphor (1995) which sought to bring insights from Heidegger, phenomenology and hermeneutics to bear on computer-aided design.

Around that time I moved to the University of Edinburgh and took up the newly created Chair in Architectural Computing. Since then I have researched and taught in architectural theory, as well as starting up the MSc in Design and Digital Media, initially with John Lansdown at Middlesex University. John Lee now runs the programme with my input mainly on the subject of Media and Culture. I worked closely with colleagues in Music, and was encouraged by Pedro Rebelo to set up an MSc in Sound Design, which is now run by Martin Parker.

I ventured into academic management in 1999, taking on the job as Head of the Department of Architecture for 3 years. Later I assumed the role of Head of the School of Arts, Culture and Environment (ACE), which included Architecture, Music and History of Art. That period ended when Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) merged with the University of Edinburgh. So ACE became ECA with the inclusion of the departments (Schools) of Design and Art, and under new management.

From 2013-2016 I was Postgraduate Dean of Research in the College of Humanities and Social Science, which oversees 11 schools, including ECA.

I enjoy supervising PhD students, blogging, writing, vigorous exercise (still), travel and hiking in the countryside. It’s fair to say I like new gadgets and challenging ideas. I’m a technophile. I completed a book on mood and emotion that appeared with MIT Press in January 2016. I am also thinking a lot about nature and just published a book called Network Nature, with Bloomsbury Academic. My last book was on the philosopher of semiotics C.S. Peirce. So that makes me something of a critical semio-technobiophile!