Skip to content

Ms Kate Cheyne

Job: Head of School Arts, Design and Architecture

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: School of Arts, Design and Architecture

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0) 116 257 4589



Personal profile

Kate Cheyne joined De Montfort University in 2020 as the Head of the newly formed School of Arts, Design and Architecture. She is a qualified architect, educated at Glasgow School of Art and The Bartlett, UCL. She worked in architectural practices in London, Israel and Sri Lanka, predominantly focussing on healthcare and housing projects, before co-founding and jointly directing the female-led, award-winning practice, Architects in Residence, (AiR). In 2010, Kate worked with Development Workshop France in Haiti, as consultants to Save the Children USA, designing transitional schools that incorporated safer construction methods.

In 2011, she moved her practice knowledge into research and education, where she is exploring cultural landscapes, rural industries and, through their growth and adaptation, spatial and material innovation for a rural condition. A particular focus has been with an inter-disciplinary research group evaluating the textile industry and the potential for novel woven materials within the built environment, that can sense strain and movement. 

The impact of her leadership in teaching was acknowledged by being awarded a Higher Education Academy Senior Fellowship (SFHEA). She retains external practice-based links through sitting on Planning Design Review Panels. She is a member of the Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture (SCHOSA), a board member of RIBA Validation Boards for UK based and International visits and an invited external examiner in a number of institutions ensuring she remains ahead of academic trends within the subject of Architecture.

Research group affiliations

  • Institute of Architecture
  • Institute of Art and Design

Research interests/expertise

Kate’s research interests developed out of her fifteen years in architectural practice leading on the use of prefabricated building systems combined with spatial and material innovation. Having worked in a diverse multi-disciplinary studio, from fashion designers to structural engineers and furniture makers to steel fabricators, she learnt the value of interdisciplinary thinking to evolving new design processes that can lead to alternative social and architectural propositions. 

Much of her current design research deals with the possibilities of textiles as a viable building material (Tresses, 2009, Fabrikate, 2010, Seismic Shifts, 2011-2017, Strung Out, 2016). Within her teaching she embeds her research that addresses Cultural Landscapes, in particular, the relationship between local materials, growth of rural manufacture and vibrant rural communities (Haiti, 2010, ‘The Isle of Slingers’ 2013, ‘Ducks-a-dabbling’, 2014, ‘Village Factory’ 2014, ‘Blueprints for Future Factories’, 2017, ‘The Makers’ Nursery’, 2018). 
Kate’s material investigations, in collaboration with Glenn Longden-Thurgood, have been tested as full scale prototype structures, through students’ End of Year Show (Rammed Chalk, 2011, Bent Coppiced Beams, 2012, Reciprocating Grid Structures, 2013, Bundled & Lashed Joints, 2017).

Areas of teaching

Situated architectural design practice:
Kate’s architectural design studio sees the definition of ‘place’ as central to an architecture that is not only successful as a visual object but also effective in responding to how we occupy space and affect the surrounding environment. Sites are real and multiple fieldtrips are set so students continuously return to place. Students are encouraged to understand that their role is relational rather than solitary, and positions them (the architect) within a network of users and needs, where the interpretation of site will be constantly transformed and renegotiated and the definition of place will become open ended rather than singular. (Kate Cheyne, “FIELDWORK: uncovering cultural landscapes” at: AAE (Association of Architectural Educators), 3rd – 5th September 2014, Sheffield University, p215 – 221 ISBN: 978-0-9929705-2-9)


  • HEA Senior Fellowship, 2019, University of Brighton
  • Professional Practice in Architecture, RIBA Part III, 1998 Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • PG Diploma, RIBA Part II, 1996 Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
  • B.Arch., RIBA Part I, 1992 Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art

Courses taught

M.Arch, RIBA Part 2, BA(Hons) Architecture RIBA Part 1, BA(Hons Interior Architecture

Honours and awards

  • Winning Bid for Brighton Research Challenges Award with Seismic Shifts, £35,000, 2011
  • A.I.R. Selected to showcase ‘Fabrikate’ at Ecobuild under KTN Innovation Future Zone, 2010
  • A.I.R. Finalist for BD Young Architect of the Year Award (Y.A.Y.A), 2008
  • AJ Small Projects Award, Hedy’s Way, 2008
  • Winner in Off-Site Category for Wood Awards, Camarthen Place, Bermondsey Street, 2007
  • Winner of RIBA Rotherham Cafe Competition, 2007

Membership of external committees

  • Brighton & Hove Design Review Panel, 2019, ongoing
  • Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture (SCHOSA) 2014, ongoing
  • UNESCO/UIA Validation Panel for Architectural Education, 2019
  • RIBA Validation Board, National & International, 2017, ongoing
  • Southwark Design Review Panel, 2008 – 2011
  • RIBA London Region Representative for visiting board to the University of Greenwich, 2008

Membership of professional associations and societies

  • Academic member of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)
  • Architects Registration Board
  • Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture (SCHOSA)

Professional licences and certificates

Qualified architect, ARB

Consultancy work

  • Brighton & Hove Design Review Panel, 2019, ongoing
  • University of Westminster, External Examiner, Part 1, 2017 – 2021
  • K’ARTS, Korea, External Examiner, Part 1 & 2, 2016 - 17
  • University of Greenwich, External Academic Representative, MSA University, Cairo Periodic Review to MSA, Cairo, 2015
  • Glasgow School of Art, External Examiner for MDes Interior Design 2011- 2015
  • Sligo Institute of Technology, External Examiner for Interior Architecture, 2011-2014