Architect Luis Diaz is the co-founder of the research based practice, Brooklyn Architects Collective. His research is in the interrelationship between spatial practices and spatial forms, peripheral urban space, public and social housing and political and ideological aspects of space and form.
Co-founder of the research based practice, Brooklyn Architects Collective, Luis Diaz' research is in the interrelationship between spatial practices and spatial forms, peripheral urban space, public and social housing, and political and ideological aspects of space and form.
Luis Diaz was co-founder of the research-based practice, Brooklyn Architects Collective which carried out urban design research for the New York Municipal Arts Society and the Greenpoint/Williamsburg Waterfront Coalition. In 1998 the practice was a selected prize winner, receiving a certificate of merit, for their proposal for the Brooklyn Waterfront in the Van Alen Institute East River Competition.
In addition, the practice carried out small residential and commercial design projects. These two disparate practices (research and design) and scales (urban and domestic) led to an interest in research focusing on small scale everyday practices and their spaces as a generator of both programs and proposals.
Luis Diaz’s area of research is in the interrelationship between spatial practices and spatial forms. An inquiry into theories of the everyday in the work of Henri Lefebvre and Michel de Certeau and their use in architectural analyses is explored in tandem with linguistic theories (structuralism, semiotics, speech-act theory). This has recently culminated in a completed MPhil using a series of housing estates in London built during the 1960s and 1970s as case studies.
In the course of this research several papers have been presented at international conferences. A recent research grant proposal seeks to put some of these theories to test in the analysis of public spaces in Brighton. In addition, Diaz is involved in developing links among the University, the local council and local and community groups. Completed projects include studies for the Triangle Community Group in Brighton and the Seaford Seafront Theme Group. Both culminated in exhibits which brought together community members and local politicians. In addition, a live project for the design of residences and a training centre for children in Kigali, Rwanda is underway for the local Brighton charity rYico.
Aspects of this research have also been considered in architectural pedagogy, informing the structure and content of some units on the BA(Hons) Architectural course.
Other areas of interest are in the history of modernism and modern architecture, modernist painting, theories of movement and experience, fragmented and peripheral urban space, public and social housing, and political and ideological aspects of space and form.
He received a BArch from the New York Institute of Technology in 1990 and spent the next ten years in a combination of practice, teaching and research. In addition he has studied at the Berlage Institute, the Bartlett (MSc History of Modern Architecture), The New School for Social Research (semiotics) and the London School of Economics (MPhil/PhD study) and has recently completed an MPhil at the University of Brighton.
Luis Diaz has taught design and computer aided drawing at the New York Institute of Technology. In 2000 he relocated to the UK to study at the London School of Economics with Richard Sennett and later at the University of Brighton. He has taught history and theory at the Kent Institute of Art and Design and is now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton. Luis Diaz has been course leader and year 3 coordinator and is currently the admissions tutor for the BA(Hons) Architecture programme.
He received a Community University Partnership Program 'On Our Doorstep' Grant, from the University of Brighton with Susannah Hagan and the Triangle Community Group, Brighton, and the Titmuss Meinhardt Scholarship and Douglas Stephen Scholarship, LSE, for postgraduate research
I teach history and theory across all years and run a vertical design studio, which combines second and third year students.
My approach is very much concerned with group and collective learning. We talk one-on-one with students but within a group context, discussing what they are working on while exploring issues that can help everyone.
We encourage the group to draw on different experiences and practices, working from personal histories and backgrounds, my owndrawing from having lived in New York, Holland and Africa. The aim is to encourage an understanding that when they are designing, students are contributing to the greater culture of design. The group dynamic allows us to help students understand, that whatever they might be struggling with, they are not alone. Once everyone has opened up, it becomes easier to share and work within the group. They also learn by seeing me actively work through various design problems. Drawing is used as a means of ‘Thinking Out Loud’, which continues as a group activity after the formal teaching period.
Writing an essay is a very solitary act and I encourage students to see themselves as teachers, to understand that they can help each other by reading each other’s papers and having a conversation. They are able to offer each other insights which lifts the whole level of their learning. I like to use images and films in my teaching and am passionate about sharing my collection of books and journals. Students don’t learn in a vacuum and such resources offer a springboard; a means of researching and understanding design.
Diaz, Luis and Southall, Ryan (2015) Le Corbusier's Cité de Refuge: historical & technological performance of the air exacte In: Le Corbusier, 50 years later, Universitat Politecnica De Valencia, Valencia, 18-20 November, 2015.
Meade, Terry, Diaz, Luis and Creed, Isobel (2013) Occupation: negotiations with constructed space [Edited Collections]
Diaz, Luis (2011) The Responsibility of Form: Space and Practice in the Entry Sequences of Housing Estates In: Occupation: negotiations with constructed space, University of Brighton, UK, 3-4 July 2009.
Diaz, Luis (2007) Neither Here Nor There: Walking in Forgotten Territories In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, 29-31 August 2007, London. (Unpublished)
Diaz, Luis (2007) Towards a history of interior architecture In: Gigli, J., ed. Thinking Inside the Box: a reader in interiors for the 21st century. Middlesex University Press, London, pp. 167-176. ISBN 9781904750222
Diaz, Luis (2005) The Everyday and 'Other' Spaces: Low-Rise High-Density Housing in Camden In: EAAE Conference: The Rise of Heterotopia - On Public Space and the Architecture of the Everyday in Post-Civil Society, 26-28 May 2005, Lueven, Belgium.
Office for Spatial Research. Luis has assisted the Brighton and Hove City Council with preparing a brief for the Lively Cities, EU INTERREG IVB, competition for a temporary transformation of the area around Ann Street and Providence Place Gardens, adjacent to St. Bartholowmew’s Church. In addition, Luis served on the competition short-listing panel and final selection panel. The project was built and tested over a two-week period in October 2012 and continues to assist the council with future and more permanent interventions in the area.
Office for Spatial Research. With the help of recent graduates of the BA(Hons) Architecture program, I am working with rYico, a registered charity in Brighton, on designs for the Gasogi Youth and Children’s Centre. rYico have purchased land in Kigali, Rwanda with the intention of building two dormitories and a training and counselling centre over the next two years. The charity works to support and train vulnerable young people in Kigali, providing accommodation, employable skills and counselling. The designs will be developed in collaboration with children from the centre, and the research will investigate local materials and sustainable practices, and modes of cross-cultural professional/user collaboration. The project is currently in schematic design stage with planning application anticipated for early 2013.
Office for Spatial Research. The BA (Hons) Architecture programme and the Office for Spatial Research worked with the Seaford Community Partnership to help identify areas and ways in which the seafront promenade can be made more beautiful and enjoyable for residents and attract visitors to the town. Second and third year architecture students took part in surveys, analytical exercises, and a carried out a one-week design project to investigate and draw up visions for the beach and its environs. The project culminated in an exhibition, ‘Rethinking the Seafront’, at the Crypt Gallery, Seaford, 23-25 March 2012. The exhibition was opened by Norman Baker, MP, with sixteen town and county councillors and the mayor of Seaford in attendance. The exhibit attracted 650 visitors in two days. The Office for Spatial Research and the Seaford Community Partnership are currently seeking funding for a second stage research project.
Office for Spatial Research (with Susanah Hagan). The ‘On Our Doorsteps’ programme, run by the University of Brighton Community University Partnership Programme (CUPP), funded a scoping project (£5000) to produce initial strategies for improving the 'triangle' of streets and houses in Brighton for the Triangle Community Group. This consisted of a collaboration among Triangle, members of the Office for Spatial Research, and post-graduate architecture students. Working closely with the Triangle community, the Architecture programme offered trained designers to generate specific insight into and strategies for the physical improvement of the Triangle neighbourhood. The results of the research exercise were exhibited at the Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, 27-28 May 2011 with community members and local politicians in attendance.