Bassam Al Shiekh profile picture


Architecture - PhD/MPhil/MSc by Research

Mode of study:

Full time

Research title:

Parametric Architecture and Islamic / Arabic Calligraphy


Bassam Al Shiekh is currently a PhD researcher in Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. He has a long-term intention to pursue a dual career in both academic and professional aspects in Architecture and Urban Design. This intention is based on the premise and the conviction that those aspects can be better served when combined and complemented. He also holds a Master degree in Architecture and Urbanism from the Architectural Association (AA) in London where he completed the Design Research Laboratory (DRL), which is an internationally recognised post-professional design programme. In addition to his experience as an architectural educator and researcher, Bassam has specialised in Architecture, Urban Design and Placemaking with national and international experience working in the UK and the Middle East with over 10 years of experience. He has worked on high profile internationally renowned and award winning projects for a number of architecture firms, including Zaha Hadid Architects in London and other firms in the UK and the Middle East, where he has challenged the boundaries of any given brief to produce progressive, forward-thinking architecture and urban design projects. He has participated in several prize-winning design competitions as a Design Team Leader and as a Principal Participant. He is interested in all aspects of design throughout the process and strives to create creative and refined solutions to complex architecture and urban challenges through collaborative design.


Parametric Architecture and Islamic / Arabic Calligraphy

Translation of Islamic / Arabic Calligraphic Forces into Architectural / Spatial Forms.

The motivation for this multidisciplinary research can be traced back to thoughts, speculations and ideas developed during several years of engagement in architectural design and theory at the University of Edinburgh and the Architectural Association, as well as during Bassam’s professional work at Zaha Hadid Architects in London. The research’s cross-disciplinary main propositions unite the interests of Islamic /Arabic calligraphy and Parametric Architecture, and have a mutual understanding of speculation analysis that deals with discovery and predictive theory, as well as a creativity synthesis that deals with the experimental explorations and invention of both disciplines

His challenging PhD doctoral project is inspired by Islamic / Arabic calligraphy and its influence on Zaha Hadid’s designs; and it is invigorated by parametric / generative systems and their capacity as a source of architectural forms. His PhD observes the rising importance of computation technologies to architecture, which has always been a form of negotiation between ‘function and fiction’ and ‘force and form’. His PhD proposes a Parametric Calligraphic Machine that simultaneously produces, connects and separates calligraphic surfaces, calligraphic images and calligraphic reality. Therefore, the goal is to examine this hypothesis in order to produce a set of techniques, tools and methods that inform the three-dimensional design process of Islamic / Arabic calligraphy’s contemporary possibilities by addressing a process description rather than a state description of creating calligraphic images and calligraphic surfaces. The theoretical approach highlights issues pertaining to calligraphy, spatiality, translation, generative systems, parametric design, visual structure, force and form. He has presented his research at the University of Edinburgh and the University of London and he is currently in his fifth year of his PhD.