Dr. Derek Hales

School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Photo of Dr. Derek Hales

Contact Details

New SEE Building - Room 03.22

Please email for an appointment.

Current positions

Lecturer in Architecture


Dr Derek Hales is an architect and philosopher of digital and abstract culture. Before joining the University of Salford in 2017, Derek was an architect in practice and was Director of the Yorkshire Forward Centre of Excellence for Digital Design and Subject Leader for Digital Design at the University of Huddersfield School of Art Design and Architecture. He was 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.

Areas of research

Architecture, Design, Computational Design, XR


Derek runs undergraduate and postgraduate design studios concerned with technoecologies of architectural and virtual space. Derek has a long-standing interest in speculative design in architecture and architecture and its representations: architectural models, drawings and machines after the digital turn. He is module leader for the Advanced Digital Design Technologies and the Dissertation modules on the Master of Architecture programme.  Derek is Programme 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 Programme Director for the Professional Doctorate in the Built Environment. The courses he delivers are interdisciplinary and explore the techno-cultural implications of design and digital technologies.

Research Interests

My research interest is in the digital turn in architecture. I am interested, and have direct experience of the histories and theories of the digital turn of the late 20th Century and, in more practical terms, the computational turn in architecture today. My research investigates the possible futures of convergences in the software and hardware-based practices of design, art, film and media and the intersection of methodologies from these areas with computational architectural practice and the discourse of speculative design, abstract culture, cybernetics and the neo-avant-garde.  

My published philosophical work is on the theoretical models and technological imaginaries of what the philosopher Gilles Deleuze termed ‘objectile’ and how this concept, implicitly linked as it is to the digital turn in architecture, can be mobilised for contemporary interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary practices. Whilst this work is philosophically motivated and for architectural design, it engages with socio-political issues of technological acceleration, creativity (Design), policy (Innovation, Digital Built Britain, Information Society), computation (generative design, algorithmic design, creative code) the suite of technologies operating under the rubric of Industry 4.0.

I have specific expertise in Computational Design, Advanced Digital Design, Building Information Modeling, Virtual Reality (AR & XR) and the implications of these for the professional practice of architecture.  

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