Dr Nicholas Simcik Arese

  • College positions:
    Fellow, College Lecturer, and Director of Studies in Architecture
  • University positions:
    University Lecturer and Deputy Director of Graduate Studies
  • Subjects: Architecture


BA in Architecture (UC Berkeley), BA in Political Economy (UC Berkeley), MSc in Contemporary Urbanism (London School of Economics), Diploma in Architecture/RIBA Part II (Architectural Association), DPhil in Geography (University of Oxford)


Research Interests

I am an urban theorist, ethnographer, and architect with interest in improvised city planning, the commons, property theory, and popular notions of value and morality in the built environment. My main specialisation is in cities of the Middle East and North Africa – having conducted extensive field work in Cairo, as well as in Doha and Beirut – where I combine scholarship in anthropology and legal geography to understand how people repurpose cities built from scratch. Of related interest, then, are the urban poor, new global middle classes, migration, and international development. I also research the relationship between digital technology and evictions in Medellin, Colombia, towards developing experimental property rights arrangements. This frames an ongoing effort to articulate methodological principles for an "architectural social science," combining ethnography, building practices, and data modelling to predict the effects of planning policy and speculate on possible city futures.


Teaching Interests

Urban theory and practice, international development, legal geography, property theory, anthropology of value and morality in the built environment, culture and politics in Middle Eastern cities, ethnographic methods, and architectural design.