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Professor Theodore Zamenopoulos

Profile summary

Professional biography

Theodore Zamenopoulos is Professor of Citizen-led Design at the Open University. He is a professional architect and holds a PhD in Architecture from UCL, where he studied at Bartlett School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. He first joined the Open University as a research fellow in 2005 working in UK and EU funded research projects focussed on design, complexity research and education.

Research interests

His research focuses on the empowerment of people to engage and lead the design of places.

He studies the cognitive, social, political and technological dimensions of places that may inhibit or unlock the human power to design. In this context, he focuses on the development of places that foster design thinking in everyday life. He has been leading or participating in a number of research projects around the themes of civic engagement and leadership in design.

His research embraces a variety of methods, including: design led research approaches, co-design, participatory action research methods as well as empirical studies of design cognition using brain-imaging (fMRI), computational and mathematical models of design cognition.

Since 2011 he has been involved in a number of AHRC funded research projects under the Connected Communities program that focus on the themes of civic engagement in design, citizen-led design, creative citizenship and community-led design. In his projects there is often an emphasis on developing community-academic partnerships and exploring the relation between academic research and community relevance.

Teaching interests

Theodore is currently module team chair of T217: Design Essentials of which he was the production chair. He is also module team member of T218: Design for Engineers.

He previously chaired the T211 course: Design and Designing and was member of the award board of U101: Design Thinking. 

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Design GroupGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology


Externally funded projects

Rules of Thumb
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01 Jun 201531 Aug 2015AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council

This research project aims to explore the transposition of the practice of hitchhiking to stimulate creative thinking and innovation in the development of housing co-operatives. The key research questions are: What are the structural and cultural imperatives of the practice of hitchhiking? To what extent is it possible to transpose such knowledge, methods and practices into the development of housing co-operatives? The research team will examine the history and practice of hitching and develop and evaluate a practical toolkit by working together with housing co-operatives. The project is a collaboration between University of Brighton, University of Lancaster, University of Edinburgh, The Open University and The Glass-House Community Led Design.

Connected Communities & Design Highlight: Empowering Design Practices: historic places of worship as catalysts for connecting communities
RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead21 Oct 201420 Oct 2021AHRC Arts & Humanities Research Council

Empowering Design Practices is a five-year research project exploring historic places of worship and their potential as community resources. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and includes the following partners: The Open University, Historic England, the Historic Religious Buildings Alliance, Heritage Lottery Fund and The Glass-House Community Led Design. Through this collaboration, the project aims to explore how community-led design can help empower those who look after historic places of worship to create more open, vibrant and sustainable places that respect and enhance the heritage. The project also aims to build national capacity for community-led design practice by developing open educational resources and training for design students, communities, as well as the professionals and support bodies who work with them. More information: