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Dr Luke Pearson
Room 2.20
Bartlett School of Architecture
22 Gordon Street
Dr Luke Pearson profile picture
  • Associate Professor
  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

Dr Luke Pearson is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the BSc Architecture (RIBA Part 1) programme at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. He also coordinates the Videogame Urbanism studio on the MArch Urban Design programme, where he promotes research into the use of videogame technologies as tools for both speculative and participatory urban design. Luke is a founding partner of the design research practice You+Pea, which he runs with Sandra Youkhana.
Luke’s research operates between architecture and game design, with complementary interests in media and new forms of architectural representation. Luke’s design work has been exhibited internationally, including Playing the Picturesque, a recent solo exhibition by You+Pea exhibited at the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Architecture Gallery and Edge Arts Centre Bath in 2019. You+Pea have also exhibited work at international games industry events, including EGX 2019 at ExCel London, and Now Play This.
Luke has lectured on his research at institutions including In The City (Strelka Institute), New York University Games Lab, The Victoria and Albert Museum, MuseumsQuartier Vienna, Kosovo Architecture Festival, Shibaura House and Asakusa Gallery Tokyo.
He has also organised several conferences and symposia on related topics including Re-Imagining the Avant-Garde at Sir John Soane’s Museum (2019), Drawing Futures (2016), REALMS for London Games Festival (2017) and Up-Pop for London Festival of Architecture (2016).
As well as publishing works on the relationship between games and architecture in numerous academic journals and books, Luke also regularly writes for general readership publications including eflux Architecture, FRAME magazine and Disegno. 

Research Summary

Luke’s research focusses on how videogame technologies can be used in architectural design to promote more direct and public-facing engagement with the built environment. His work is highly interdisciplinary, and draws from architectural design, game design, media and games studies, architectural history and theory, interface design and the scholarship of drawing.
His game-based architectural projects have been exhibited internationally, including a solo exhibition by You+Pea at the Royal Institute of British Architects combining a historic reading of Picturesque designs with game environments, experienced through projections. Further games have been exhibited at events such as EGX 2019 (the UK’s largest games expo) and a forthcoming work at Architekturmuseum der Tum in Munich that critically explores London’s proliferation of luxury residential buildings.
He has produced projects to map commercial videogame spaces as a way of understanding their spatial composition in an architectural context and this research has been published in journals such as Architectural Research Quarterly and Thresholds, leading Luke to establish the REALMS symposium for the London Games Festival 2017, bringing together a panel of architects and game designers to discuss disciplinary crossovers.
Other works discuss the creation of virtual spaces in relation to the media of architectural design, emphasising how the design of game systems regulates a participant’s being within a virtual environment. Articles on this relationship in both a design research and pedagogic context have been published in journals such as The Journal of Architectural Education and Design Studies. Luke co-founded the international conference Drawing Futures in 2016 that highlights such emerging practices in architectural representation.
Luke’s research also uncovers a strong relationship between the history of speculative architectural design and contemporary technologies for virtual world building. This interest directly underpinned his role as co-editor of Re-Imagining the Avant-Garde, where he compared speculative utopian projects from the past to contemporary game worlds. This interest also led into the co-curation of a lecture series at Sir John Soane’s Museum and an exhibition at Betts Project in London, both of which introduced gaming into a historical reappraisal of experimental architecture.
Luke also retains a wider interest in new media, pop culture and gaming culture that has been explored in works such as a commissioned article exploring music festivals held in videogame spaces for Frame magazine, and a survey of Japanese arcade ‘medal games’ for Disegno journal.
Significant recent publications include:

  • A Machine for Playing In: Exploring the videogame as a medium for architectural design. Design Studies. (Elsevier, 2020)
  • Videogame Urbanism. The Architectonics of Game Spaces. (Transcript Berlin, 2019)
  • Architectural Design: Re-Imagining the Avant-Garde (Wiley, 2019) co-edited with Matthew Butcher.
  • From Superstudio to Super Mario. e-flux Architecture (e-flux, 2019)
  • Videogame Urbanism, A Visual Manifesto. Volume Magazine (Archis, 2019) with Sandra Youkhana.
  • Worlds That Are Given: How Architecture Speaks Through Video Games. Thresholds Journal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (MIT Press, 2018)
  • Drawing Futures: Speculations in contemporary drawing for art and architecture (UCL Press / Riverside Architectural Press, 2016) co-edited with Laura Allen

Teaching Summary

Luke has taught extensively in both design and theory, across undergraduate, postgraduate and post-professional levels since 2009.
He is Co-Director of BSc Architecture (RIBA Part 1) programme, and Chair of the undergraduate Board of Examiners, a role which he has held since 2018. As part of this role he also acts as Module Coordinator for all second and third year design modules. During this time, he has worked to expand the scope of design studios within the programme, to address the need for participatory, ecologically conscious and technologically progressive studio cultures.
Luke has coordinated the Videogame Urbanism studio with Sandra Youkhana since 2016, operating on the MArch Urban Design programme at the Bartlett. The studio is at the global forefront in the integration of game technologies into architectural design, involving the development of a new curriculum that integrates game engine software and game design thinking into urbanism. The studio’s innovative pedagogic practices have been featured in architectural press platforms such as Archdaily and OneZero, academic books such as Architectonics of Game Spaces: The Spatial Logic of the Virtual and Its Meaning for the Real (Transcript Verlag, 2019) and in games industry publications such as the influential EDGE Magazine.
Previously Luke was a design tutor for BSc Architecture Unit 4 (2009-2018), where the unit explored the relationship between new media and architecture through radical forms of representation. He was also a tutor on the MArch Graduate Architectural Design from 2010-13 where students explored the relationship between computational simulation and critical drawing practice.
Luke has also supervised several MArch Architecture dissertations focussing on the relationship between architectural design and videogame space. He is a registered PhD supervisor and is accepting applications for proposals on related subjects.
Since 2015, Luke has also been an invited professor at the yearly Busan International Architectural Design Workshop held by Pusan National University in South Korea. He has also led invited workshops at the Kosovo Architecture Festival and public workshops at Somerset House in London. 
Drawing from the successes of the Videogame Urbanism studio model, Luke is currently working on the development of a new post-professional Master’s programme in Cinematic and Videogame Architecture (working title) proposed for UCL East in 2023.

01-OCT-2021 Associate Professor Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2018 Co-Director of BSc Architecture Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
11-NOV-2016 Lecturer in Architecture Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
24-SEP-2016 Design Tutor: MArch Urban Design Research Cluster 12 Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, United Kingdom
23-SEP-2010 – 23-SEP-2013 Teaching Fellow: MArch Graduate Architectural Design Bartlett School of Architecture University College London, United Kingdom
23-SEP-2009 – 01-SEP-2018 Teaching Fellow: BSc Architecture Unit 4 Bartlett School of Architecture University College London, United Kingdom
Academic Background
  PhD PhD in Architectural Design  
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