You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Vera Hale

Dr Vera Hale

Profile summary

Professional biography

I first joined The Open University in 2015 as a researcher and worked on several AHRC-funded projects. In 2021, I became a Lecturer in Design at the Design Group, which is part of the School of Engineering & Innovation at the Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics. I hold a PhD in architecture from the University of Sheffield, an MA in Architecture and Interior Design from London Metropolitan University, and an MSc in Architecture from the University of Delft. I am  a co-founder of the architectural practice the Cave Co-operative and a professional ARB registered architect as well as registered with the Dutch Board of Architects SBA.

My academic research is rooted in the social sciences and focuses on social aspects of sustainability within the built environment. My interests are concentrated on the critical pedagogies of enabling approaches for co-design, more specifically my present interests are in:

  • Enabling design participation
  • Transformative Participation
  • Pedagogy of community design workshop

Research interests

Over the last 8 years, I have been involved in several Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded projects, a collaboration between the Open University Design School and The Glass-House Community Led Design. Together with Dr. Zamenopoulos, Dr. Alexiou, and Sophia de Sousa, we have been exploring different capability approaches to foster sustainable and resilient co-design practices within the design of place in the built environment. For more details on these projects please follow the links below. 

I finished my PhD Enabling: A Critical Approach to Transformative Community-Led Design at the Sheffield School of Architecture. The research focused on the discourses surrounding community-led design, alongside observations of the work of the national charity The Glass-House Community Led Design. The data revealed conditions, actions, and consequences of the phenomenon of ‘design-enabling’. By critically examining the findings in the context of the literature on transformation, empowerment, and critical pedagogies, the need for design enablers to adopt different types of supporting roles to empower diverse and different community groups within a range of design project settings emerged. By gaining a wider understanding of transformative civic pedagogies and the different levels of empowerment that come with them, enablers can create more resilient participatory approaches, enhancing and expanding a community's contributions to the design process.

Research interests are: 

  • Co-Design
  • Collaborative Planning
  • Design Enabling
  • Social Sustainability
  • Transformative community design pedagogy
  • Low carbon low tech built environment solution to climate crisis

Teaching interests

At present, I am part of the production team working on different design modules to expand the design educational offer at OU. I also support the second-level presentation teams of T217 Design and Innovation and T218 Design and Engineering. 

In the past, I have taught the MsSAS design studio at the University of Sheffield and have visited architectural schools as a visiting critic or as an external examiner. 


Design Capital: Unearthing the Design Capabilities of Community Groups (2022)
Alexiou, Katerina; Hale, Veronica and Zamenopoulos, Theodore
International Journal of Design, 16(2) (pp. 33-46)

Empowering design practices: exploring relations between architecture, faith, society and community (2020)
Alexiou, Katerina; Zamenopoulos, Theodore; Hale, Vera; West, Susie and de Sousa, Sophia
Open Arts Journal, Article 5(9)

Good Places Through Community-Led Design (2018)
Hale, Veronica
In: Zaman, Quazi Mahtab and Troiani, Igea eds. Transdisciplinary Urbanism and Culture. The Urban Book Series (pp. 155-164)
ISBN : 978-3-319-55854-7 | Publisher : Springer, Cham

Empathy Board: co-designing and decolonising curriculum in distance design education (2023-12-01)
Darbandi, Cindy; Rodrigues, Ida; Lotz, Nicole and Hale, Vera
In : The 7th International Conference for Design Education Researchers (29 Nov - 1 Dec 2023, London, UK)

Incubating civic leadership in design: The role of cross-pollination spaces (2022-06-25)
Alexiou, Katerina; Zamenopoulos, Theodore; Hale, Veronica and de Sousa, Sophia
In : DRS2022 (25 Jun - 3 Jul 2022, Bilbao, Spain)