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School of the Built Environment

Derek Hales

Lecturer in Architecture


Dr Derek Hales is an architect and design philosopher. Before joining the university of Salford in 2017, Derek was an architect in practice and Director of the West Yorkshire Centre for Creative & Cultural Knowledge Exchange one of 22 national centres established by the Higher Education Innovation Fund; Director of the Yorkshire Forward Centre for Digital Design and subject leader for digital design at the University of Huddersfield; and Director of the Digital Research Unit funded by the Arts Council of England until 2009. 

Derek was Research Fellow in Transdisciplinary Practice with the New Centre for Research & Practice (2016-2018) and is interim Chair for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ national Research & Innovation Group. He is on the editorial board of the international peer-reviewed journals Digital Creativity and Architecture & Culture.


Derek is a design studio and dissertation tutor at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He is module leader for the Advanced Digital Design Technologies on the Master of Architecture, and is Director of the RIBA/ARB accredited Architecture programme, a lecturer on the doctoral training programme of Research Methodologies for Built Environment PhD students, and is a specialist supervisor in design and practice-based research. He is workshop leader for the Professional Doctorate in the Built Environment. The courses he delivers are interdisciplinary and explore the techno-cultural implications of design as both a science of the artificial and as the science of imaginary solutions.

Research Interests

Derek’s research provides a comparative philosophy of tensile relations between design as ‘the science of the artificial’ and design as ‘the science of imaginary solutions’. His principal interests are in philosophy of technology; philosophies of technogenesis; analytic and continental philosophies of technological possibility; and the philosophy of accelerationism in radical design, visionary architecture and digital design. He has a long-term commitment to design as research; artistic research; and practice-based research. The current focus of much of his research extends from his PhD at the Royal College of Art which reconsidered the concept of the technical object as objectile to mobilise it in two research registers or fields of practice research:

• Design for a science of imaginary solutions in associated practices of speculative design, speculative hardware, architecture fiction and other inventive methodologies.

• Design as the science of the artificial, in the registers of design innovation and digital transformation.

Derek is an experienced PhD supervisor and examiner and was a co-investigator for the AHRC and EPSRC funded programme Designing for the 21st Century led by the University of Leeds. He has presented his R&D work in speculative & abstract culture at universities, research institutions and conferences internationally. 

Qualifications and Memberships


  • PhD. Cultural & Historical Studies, Royal College of Art
  • MRes. Cultural Studies and the Humanities, London Consortium
  • Diploma in Architecture (Distinction), Huddersfield School of Architecture


  • Architects Registration Board, Registered Architect
  • Royal Institute of British Architects, Member
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy



  • Book Chapter: Hales, D. (2015) ‘(re)designing the Objectile’ in Marenko, B and J. Brassett (2015) Deleuze & Design, Edinburgh University Press.


  • Journal Article: Hales, D. (2016) ‘A Certain Breakthrough’ introductory essay to Speculative Hardware Special Section (as Guest Editor), Journal of Digital Creativity.
  • Journal Article: Hales, D. (2013) ‘A provisional taxonomy of Design Fictions’ introductory essay in Design Fiction Special Issue (as Guest Editor), in Journal of Digital Creativity.