Anna Wakeford Holder

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Dr Anna Wakeford Holder MA, MArch, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Architecture


I am a Senior Lecturer in Architecture in the Department of the Natural and Built Environment. I bring critical feminist perspectives to my work as a designer, researcher and educator, with particular interests in:

• the politics and knowledge practices of built environment project commissioning, procurement, design and use;
• the interactions, alliances and democratic practices of activist groups, citizens, designers and the local state to effect social and environmental change within the current and historic conditions of capitalism

I am a director of the social enterprise architecture practice Studio Polpo.


I hold an MA in Architectural Design from the University of Edinburgh; a dual MArch in Architecture and Town and Regional Planning from the University of Sheffield, and a PhD in Architecture from the University of Sheffield.

My doctoral research ‘Initiating Architecture’ was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and contributes to understanding of collective agency and knowledge practices within project initiating, developed through case studies of activist and state alliances within socially-engaged and public architecture projects. It is currently being developed as a research monograph.

I was a postdoctoral researcher on ADAPTr, the international Architecture, Design and Art Practice Training research Initial Training Network, a collaboration between seven research institutions (EU FP7 funded). Based at Aarhus Arkitektskolen, Denmark, I developed research into methodologies of creative practice research and practices of knowledge creation among designers in architectural practice.

I was awarded HEA Senior Fellowship in 2018, and have experience leading the history and theory subject area (University for the Creative Arts), leading and teaching design studio (University of Sheffield, Arkitekskolen Aarhus), and teaching professional practice (University of Brighton).

I joined the Department of the Natural and Built Environment at Sheffield Hallam University in 2022.


Department of the Natural and Built Environment

Courses taught

MArch Architecture
MArch Architecture Masters Apprenticeship
BSc (Honours) Architecture

Modules taught
Design studio 5
Design studio 6
Critical study
Integrated practice
Cultural context 1


Current research projects 

My current research, developed in collaboration with Dr Kim Trogal (University for the Creative Arts) focuses on feminist histories within socialist and radical municipal spatial practices.

‘Sites of democratic urban practice: revisiting participatory housing in Bologna 1968 – 1977’, supported by the University for the Creative Arts research fund, looks back to the spatial and planning practices of ‘Red’ Bologna, when the city pioneered a programme of decentralisation, participatory democracy and innovative forms of non-market housing. This project sheds new light on ways in which architecture and urban planning can support democratic and equitable city development, showing the contributions of women, migrants and other neglected figures.

‘Socialist feminism and the GLC’s Popular Planning Unit’ critically reflects on the activist state work of socialist feminists within the Labour left Greater London Council in the 1980s. The project analyses pre-figurative feminist practices as a politics of becoming in place, looking at the mechanisms by which the local state provided economic and political support to pioneering and important architecture and planning projects such as Coin Street, the People’s Plan for the Royal Docks and Jagonari Women’s Centre by Matrix Feminist Design Co-operative. A chapter contribution to The Routledge Handbook of Architecture, Urban Space and Politics, Vol II: Ecology, Social Participation and Marginalities (forthcoming 2023) is in preparation.


Book chapters

Udall, J., & Wakeford Holder, A. (2023). Placemaking and the civic university: interface sites as spaces of tension and translation. In Dobson, J., & Ferrari, E. (Eds.) Reframing the Civic University. An agenda for impact. (pp. 143-162). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan:

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