Dr Anika van Aswegen

Staff Profile

BHHK(Int) MInt PhD(Pretoria)

Coordinator: Postgraduate programmes in Interior Architecture, PhD Support Group

Contact no: +27 (0)12 420 2095

Email: [email protected]

Office: 4-8, Boukunde Building, Hatfield Campus


Dr Anika van Aswegen is a lecturer and researcher who joined the UP Department of Architecture in 2016. She is the coordinator for the postgraduate programmes in Interior Architecture. During 2003-2009, she was the programme leader for Interior Design at the Nelson Mandela University. In-between, she facilitated creative and community development initiatives in the Klein Karoo through creative art with children and innovation projects with communities. She worked as glass artist, designer and gallery curator in the Southern Cape. She is a reviewer for two international journals and serves on the advisory board of a private design school. Dr van Aswegen has played a leading role to establish an empathetic approach to architecture in the department, challenging the role of the architect by shifting perspectives and ways of thinking. Her human-centred emphasis expands to a humanity-centred focus to improve the quality of life. 

Course involvement and teaching philosophy

List modules

Design Project and Discourse DPD 803

Design Investigation DIT 803

Continuing Practice Development CPD 810

Research Field Project (RFP 732, RFP 733, RFP 730)

Interior Theory ONT 303

Teaching philosophy: Transformative learning forms the basis of Dr van Aswegen’s teaching philosophy. Her keen interest and research into design pedagogy highlight the importance of multiple viewpoints when students construct meaning of their own learning. Progressive ways of design inquiry are used in the studio, to expand and deepen understanding of complex societal issues embedded in design projects – empathy mapping, personas, role-play, storytelling and scenarios. Design projects and themes relate to cultural exchange, creative economies, socio-cultural innovation and human-environmental interface.

Research profile

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-7511-9570

Department Research Focus Areas: 

  • Architectural Design Education
  • Inhabitation of Place
  • Urban Citizenship

Research interests: Dr van Aswegen’s teaching and research interests are interlinked. She challenges the conventions of design pedagogy in the spatial design studio to reveal the intangible, as a deliberative and productive action. Her research includes the affective side of design inquiry and provocations are grounded in an understanding of transformative development.  She interweaves research themes across a variety of contexts – identity formation, belonging and meaning-making towards design citizenship.

Research projects 

Anika is a member of Team Mzanzi as part of the International Innovative Learning Environments + Student Experience (ILE+SE) Scoping Study managed by the University of Melbourne’s Learning Environments Applied Research Network (LEaRN). The study is aimed at establishing knowledge about pedagogical and architectural design, and how to evaluate the effectiveness of innovating learning environments. It furthermore focuses on diverse student experiences at school.

Recent publications

Van Aswegen, A. In print. ‘Human-centred and disruptive pedagogy in the architecture studio’. Innovate.

Van Aswegen, A. 2021. ‘Refocusing the interior lens: other methods of critical and creative inquiry in the architecture studio’. In Smith, C. Progressive studio pedagogy: examples for architecture and allied design fields. London: Routledge, pp. 54-77.

Ghillino, N & van Aswegen, A. 2019. Innovative designs provide the homeless with a form of urban domesticity. Innovate 14, pp. 20-23.

Grobler, A. 2018. ‘Relational encounters:  meaning-making of the intangible through emotional attachment. Stories of Interior:  Multiple Perspectives on Interiority - [in]arch international Conference Proceedings, 30 & 31 January 2018, Universitas Indonesia, pp. 111-120.  ISBN: 978-602-72857-9-8.

Students currently supervising

Kirstin Niebuhr: School as a creative incubator: facilitating storytelling through creating a new and safer school typology. MProf (Interior Architecture)

Tessa Kruger: Revived character and new meaning: redefining the narrative of historical house museums. MProf (Interior Architecture)

Published by Oratile Mothoagae

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