Katerina Alexiou


Katerina is a Lecturer in Design. She first joined the Open University as a research fellow in 2004. Her design background and professional experience is in architecture. Her academic research falls in the area of design theory and methods (including design cognition, collaborative design, learning, creativity, and social aspects of design). As a background to this there is a special interest on the relationship between complexity science and design, and the exchange of theories and methodologies between the two disciplines. She is also interested in design computing, artificial intelligence, simulation, the development of design and planning support systems and the investigation of the relationship between space and human behaviour. Katerina is also a Honorary Researcher in CASA, UCL.


2007. PhD in Architecture. Bartlett School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University College London, UK

1999. Professional Degree in Architectural Engineering (Dip.Arch.Eng). Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Professional Qualifications

Registered architect in Greece since June 1999 (Member of the Technical Chamber of Greece).

Research Supervision

Katerina would be happy to hear from potential MPhil and PhD students interested to work in topics related to her research, including design theory and methods, collaborative design, creative citizenship, design cognition and complexity science in design. For more information about her current work see the Project list below.

With Theodore Zamenopoulos, Katerina is leading the Design, Computing and Complexity strand of research in the Virtual MPhil programme led by the Computing Department. Visit the virtual mphil website for more details.


Empowering Design Practices: historic places of worship as catalysts for connecting communities

Empowering Design Practices is a large £1.5m project funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities and Design Highlight Notice. The project aims to investigate how community-led design (CLD) practices apply in the case of historic places of worship and to develop new mechanisms and processes to empower communities and to facilitate and evaluate good practice. Over fine years the project will offer support to over 30 communities involved in adaptation and maintenance of historic places of worship of different faiths and denominations. In parallel it will deliver a training program for design students, professionals and communities in order to build national capacity for research by design. The project is led by Theodore Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou and is a collaborative partnership between the Open University and organisations outside the Higher Education sector including English Heritage, the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, Heritage Lottery Fund, and The Glass-House Community Led Design. 

Co-designing Asset Mapping: Comparative Approaches

The aim of this project is to develop a network of community-academic partnerships engaged in asset mapping approaches, in order to enable collaborative reflections and evaluations of current and recent projects, and to develop new synergies for learning and critical reflection. The project is funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme and involves OU academics Giota Alevizou (PI), Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as academics from 4 other universities: Ms Greene (RCA), Prof Kelemen  (Keele University), Dr Phillips (Leicester University) and Dr Lam (Brunel University). The project has UK and International community partners: The Glass-House Community Led Design and The New Vic Theatre and Atenistas and engages with a variety of different community groups and experts. [More information]

Starting from Values: Evaluating Intangible Legacies

This project is funded under a call for developing different ways of investigating the legacy of AHRC Connected Communities projects. The aim is to co-develop and apply creative ways of identifying, evaluating and enhancing intangible, values-related aspects of project legacies. The project is led by Prof Marie Harder at Brighton University and involves OU academics Katerina Alexiou and Theodore Zamenopoulos as well as a number of other academic and non-academic institutions. [More information]

Scaling up Co-design Research and Practice

This project focuses on organisations that support communities through creative co-design activities (including media, technology, product design and place-making). The aim is to identify challenges and opportunities for unleashing and building upon the intrinsic capacities of community-academic partnerships involved in co-design in order to: increase the impact of their practice; extend reach; and make more sustainable and resilient communities. Our core tools are: cross-pollination activities, fostering ambassadors of co-design practice, design hacklabs and online collaborative technologies. The project is led by OU academics Theodore Zamenopoulos and  Katerina Alexiou in collaboration with Prof Andy Dearden, Sheffield Hallam; Dr Basayawan Lam, Brunel University; Prof Ann Light, Northumbria University and Community Partners: The Glass-House Community Led Design, Blackwood Foundation, Fossbox, Flossie, Silent Cities, Voluntary Action Westminster, Hannah Goraya. The project is funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme. [More information]

Media, Community and the Creative Citizen

‘Creative Citizens’ is a large £1.4m project funded by AHRC and EPSRC under the Connected Community and Digital Economy programmes. The project involves academics from University of West of England, Cardiff University, Royal College of Art, Birmingham University, and Birmingham City University as well as a number of public and third sector organisations. The aim of the research is to understand the changing landscape of digital and physical media and how they can be used to transform communities and support creative citizenship. The Open University team (Katerina Alexiou, Theodore Zamenopoulos and Giota Alevizou) focusses on ‘community-led design’, which will establish the value of creative citizens engaged in designing their own communities including public spaces, community facilities, housing or neighbourhood regeneration. [more information]

Valuing Community-Led Design

Valuing Community-Led Design is a research project that aims to collate, articulate and disseminate evidence about the value of community-led design and bring the relevant stakeholders together to share good practice and form a research agenda for the future. It is funded by AHRC under the Connected Communities programme. [more information]

The Role of Complexity in the Creative Economy: connecting people, ideas and practice

An AHRC funded study as part of the Connected Communities Programme. This one year project starting on May 2011 aims to explore how complexity theory and its methodological approaches can help in providing a better understanding of the creative economy as a field of research. Complexity theory offers us the possibility to explore and understand the interconnections across the different levels of understanding of the creative economy (micro, meso and macro) as well as the possibility to integrate different disciplinary understandings and findings. The project is in collaboration with Roberta Comunian (Kent University) and Caroline Chapain (Birmingham University). [More information]


The project entitled ‘Architectural and design based education and practice through content & language integrated learning using immersive virtual environments for 21st century skills’ (or ARCHI21 for short) is funded by EU Lifelong Learning programme (Key Activity 2: Languages) for two years starting in November 2010. The project involves six EU partner universities and aims to explore the application of new technologies to language learning and teaching in design – particularly architecture education. Other co-investigators of the OU team are Steve Garner, Theo Zamenopoulos, Georgy Holden, and Nicole Schadewitz. [More information]

Pilot study on the neurological basis of design cognition

A study funded initially by the Embracing Complexity in Design project and carried out in collaboration with cognitive neuroscientists from UCL and Goldsmiths College. It is part of a larger research programme aimed at understanding the neurological basis of individual and social cognition, using advanced neuro-imaging techniques like fMRI and EEG. The project involves Katerina Alexiou, Theodore Zamenopoulos, Jeff Johnson, Sam Gilbert (UCL), Joydeep Bhattacharya (Goldsmiths College). See publications for more details.

Embracing Complexity in Design

Embracing Complexity in Design (ECiD for short) is a research project funded by EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) and AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) under the Designing for the 21st Century initiative. The project is funded for 18 months starting from October 2006 and continues the work of a research cluster with the same name funded in the previous year. The objective of ECiD is to understand the part played by complexity science in design, and increasingly the potential for design to play a major role in the emerging science of complex systems. [More information]

Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems

The Open Network of Centres of Excellence in Complex Systems (ONCE-CS) is a project funded by the European Commission under FP6. The purpose of ONCE-CS is to strengthen European research in complex systems, and to assist people in business and public services to use the new science effectively. After ONCE-CS ends it will hand over to the Complex Systems Society to continue the work of servicing the complex systems community.

Katerina is currently chair of T218: Design for Engineers. She previously was examination board chair of T211: Design and Designing, module team chair of T189: Digital Photography, and module team member of T183: Design and the Web and A178: Perspectives on Leonardo Da Vinci.

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