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Dr. Sam Vardy BA Hons, Dip.Arch, M.Arch, RIBA

Senior Lecturer in Architecture


Dr Sam Vardy is Senior Lecturer in Architecture and researcher at the School of Architecture at SHU, and through research, teaching and practice explores urban spatial politics and subjectivity, art and architecture, and alternate architectural practice.  

Sam is course leader for the M.Arch in Architecture at SHU, an innovative RIBA Part 2 course with social, working practice, and ecological core agendas. 

Dr Vardy is an active researcher in the School of Architecture, and outside of SHU, also a founder of the independent art + spatial research practice; a place, of their own. 


Sam is an architectural educator, active researcher, and artist working across teaching and research at SHU_Architecture, and through his art + spatial practice; a place, of their own.  All of these areas of work involve trans-displinary investigations into other forms of spatial practice and the future role of the architect; the interplay between art and spatial practice; autonomous politics and self-organised action. 

Sam worked as an architect for a range of established practices in Sheffield and London, on cultural buildings, housing and adaptations to existing buildings before teaching at Sheffield University School of Architecture for a number of years; on undergraduate studio and MA in Architectural Design, before running a M.Arch studio. 

Sam is the co-founder with Dr Paula McCloskey, of; a place, of their own. - an art and spatial research practice based in Sheffield and Ballyshannon, Ireland.  Using art and spatial practice, they interrogate and propose within entanglements of climate, capital, technology and politics and operate as a collective, a couple, with their children, and through collaborations with others.  Sam's practice and research with a place of their own explores xeno-architectures through critical engagement with social practices and processes of de&re-territorialisation, sonic territories and film and radio as spatial practice.


As course leader of the M.Arch in Architecture, Sam has developed the course into an innovative and progressive RIBA Part 2 qualification.  The M.Arch explores new praxes of architecture, social and political design and new ecologies of architecture and cities and Sam's pedagogical focus is on collaborative working, interdisciplinary research-informed teaching and creating engaged and active design and written projects in collaboration with a range of local, national and international actors. 

Sam's recent design studio teaching in M.Arch Atelier 3 explored the political and spatial potential of a critical re-evaluation of social and physical infrastructure: Infrastructures of Autonomy with Dr Cristina Cerulli in 17/18 and Design / Infrastructure / Inclusion with Goran Vodicka in 18/19.     

Sam also teaches history and theory at both postgraduate and undergraduate levels.  


Sam has three core areas of research: 
• ongoing investigations into politics of spatial production and urban practice, with a focus on spatial self-organisation and autonomous politics and spaces as explored in his PhD from Sheffield University School of Architecture (2016).
• practice based research through; a place, of their own. around art + architecture; new forms of spatial practice; borders; fictioning; kinship; climate, design and political activism. 
• Teaching based research related to Atelier 3 and architectural pedagogy. 

Sam is a member of the Space and Place Research Group at SHU and sits on the national Architectural Humanities Research Association (AHRA) Steering Group. He was also on the steering group of the inaugural Social Art Summit in 2018. 


Journal articles

McCloskey, P., & Vardy, S. (2020). The Material-Discursive Border & Territorial-Apparatuses (The Eile Project). Building Material, 23, 77-110.

McCloskey, P., & Vardy, S. (2020). Performing Geopower: Eile and Border-Fictioning. Scene, 8 (1-2), 195-212.

Vardy, S. (2009). Spatial agency: Tactics of self-organisation. Architectural Research Quarterly, 13 (2), 133-139.

Vardy, S., & Butterworth, C. (n.d.). ‘Site-Seeing: Constructing the ‘Creative-Survey”. Field: A Free Journal for Architecture.

Vardy, S., & Trogal, K. (n.d.). Resistance and activist research: A workshop with Brian Holmes and Anne Querrien. Field: A Free Journal for Architecture.

Conference papers

Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2021). Geopower: Resistance and Border-fictioning. In McLaughlin, S., & De Little, A. (Eds.) Vibrant Practices: Material Agency and Performative Ontologies, University of Leeds, 16 April 2021 - 17 April 2021.

Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2019). Border-Fictioning. In Art in the Anthropocene, Trinity College, Dublin, 6 June 2019 - 9 June 2019.

Vardy, S., Udall, J., Vodicka, G., & McCloskey, P. (2019). Constituent relations across the city: Three perspectives from practice. In (Im)possible Complicities, Berlin, 23 May 2019 - 24 May 2019. Tesseræ / CoCreation– EU Marie Curie Rise project

Cerulli, C., & Vardy, S. (2018). Designing Infrastructures of Autonomy: Reflections on Architectures for More Just Cities. In People, Place and Policy 2018: Alternative urban futures for tackling social and spatial inequalities.

Book chapters

Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2019). Fragile Cartographies of Border Fictioning. In Urbanism at Borders: Readers: Series 1. Routledge

Vardy, S. (2019). Urban Dissensus: Spatial Self-Organisation at Wards Corner. In Fisker, J.K., Chiappini, L., Pugalis, L., & Bruzzese, A. (Eds.) Enabling Urban Alternatives: Crises, Contestation, and Cooperation. (pp. 65-81). Palgrave

Vardy, S., & Udall, J. (2017). How Do We know, who knows? A history of enacting spaces of learning. In Explorations in Urban Practice. Barcelona: Dpr-barcelona


Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2019). Myths for a Wetlands Imaginary. [Performance Walk, Residency, Exhibition, Film, Workshops]. Waltham Forest Borough Council Art Assembly / Walthamstow Wetlands.

Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2020). The Air we Breathe: Sites of Sympoiesis. [Film, workshop, public event, public realm installation]. Architecture at the Edge Festival.


Vardy, S., & McCloskey, P. (2019). Geopower (Spatial Self Organisation Against Injustice). Orgreave / Treeton, Sheffield/Rotherham

Other activities

Sam sits on the Steering Group of the Sheffield Institute of Arts (SIA)  - the cross faculty arts institute of Sheffield Hallam University. 

Post graduate supervision

Current PhD students:
Jo Ray  
Anton Hecht

Postgraduate supervision

Current PhD students:
Jo Ray  
Anton Hecht

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