Mr Derek Hales

School of Science, Engineering & Environment

Image of Mr Derek Hales coming soon

Current positions



I am a registered Architect but draw upon my interdisciplinary experiences in literature, media and science and on the creative exploration of speculative design methodologies involving drawing, model-making, film and XR production. Prior to my re-engagement with the discipline of architecture and the convergence of media and urban infrastructures, I had 15 years of professional experience in interdisciplinary R&D and artistic research. My work at that time benefited from the support of Arts Council England, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council, The Higher Education Innovation Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. I have evaluated individual research and innovation projects for BRE, BSI, and the EU Framework programme.

My interests are in a relatively un-disciplined sense of innovation - one making a break from its own already colonised future. Consistently involving an engagement with practice-based and artisic research in abstract culture, architecture, media infrastructures, and the creative terrain of post-deleuzian philosophy and pataphysics, my published work (some would call this theory-fiction) mobilises the Deleuzian technical object or objectile across diverse continuua

I am on the editorial board of the peer-reviewed academic journals Digital Creativity and Architecture and Culture, and have been guest editor for the Special Editions of Digital Creativity on Design Fiction (2013) and the Special Section on Speculative Hardware (2016). I am currently editing a second special edition of Digital Creativity on Design Fictions (2024).

My work is primarily concerned with the disengagement of the profession of architecture with the spatialities and ecological implications of an emergent technoscientific assemblage. For this reason, I now operate both para-academically and only in collaboration with those studios engaged in advanced methodologies. Deeply engaged in digital, physical, chemical, and biological materialities, my work explores a pataphysical and speculative approach to hardware and software and x-realities of the virtual, vital and vegetal.

I am currently making a free-range augury with Neil Spiller for his Communicating Vessels project, and a series of machinic organs with Phil Watson for his Soft House.


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


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

Areas of Research

Research through Practice ( Practice as Research)

Speculative Hardware and Pataphysical Computing

Derek’s Speculative Hardware and Pataphysical Computing studio conducts research on the pataphysics of objectiles deploying visionary architectural design methodologies. This work applies Open hardware and F/L/OSS tools and artistic research methodologies to contemporary architectural practice. This research constructs abstract machines /pataphysical hardware in collaboration with myself and AVATAR Professor Neil Spiller. Through this research Derek seeks to explore the speciation of architecture through advanced and emerging technologies.

Long-standing interest interest is in the pataphysical convergence of cybernetics and the baroque.

Areas of Supervision

We are seeking architecture + design practice as research doctoral candidates. Interested in visionary architecture, speculative design and design fiction approaches in immersive media - we are interested to hear from applicants interested in both drawing as a mode of research and XR as a mode of constructing autonomous architecture

> Speculative Hardware and pata(physical) computing. Constructing non-standard methodologies and objectile systems for visionary architectural design methodologies. Applying Open hardware and F/L/OSS from the fields of vfx, games and XR production together with artistic research methodologies to contemporary architectural practice in XR media infrastructures.

We seek doctoral students to construct abstract machines /pataphysical hardware for XR architectures in collaboration with myself and AVATAR Professor Neil Spiller. This work builds upon my previous practice-based UK Research Council supported research in theatre, performance and scenographic devising practices applied to the design of technological objects together with Neil's long-term visionary architectural works.


Postgraduate Studio:
- Architectural Design Thesis
- Performative Technologies & Material Matters

Histories Theories & Methodologies
Advanced Digital Design Technologies
Technology Innovation & Law