Academic staff

Dr Heba Elsharkawy, Reader in Architecture

Heba is the Cluster Leader for Architecture and Design, and Course Leader for BSc (Hons) Architecture. Her genuine interest in sustainable design has always been the underpinning concept for various research and teaching activities she has undertaken. Heba's research work is cross-disciplinary, aiming to inform the sustainable practice of architecture and enhance the quality of the built environment. Her research interests extend from environmental design and performance of buildings to energy policy and retrofit programmes. Heba is also investigating the impact of urban green systems on the health and wellbeing of people. She is also interested in exploring people's energy consumption behaviour and lifestyles and the impact of climate change on building energy performance and occupants' comfort and wellbeing.

Heba has been Principal Investigator to the British Council funded project; Building Capacity for Sustainable Development of the Built Environment BC-SDBE  total grant of £288K. Together with her team, she organised and led two international conferences, four professional training programmes, undertaken world-class research, and developed international dual degree programmes. BC-SDBE project has been acknowledged by the British Council as a success story.

Heba has been supervising PhD students at UEL since 2016, and before then at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. Heba is currently Director of Studies to 3 PhD students working on retrofit of residential prototype in Cyprus, Urban Greening Systems addressing the Urban Heat Island effect in London, and Architects' mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, besides one UEL PhD completion to date.

Heba is a Fellow Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (FMCIAT), Associate Member to the Royal Institute of British Architects, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Dr Arman Hashemi

Dr Hashemi has over 20 years of experience in practice and academia in the UK and overseas. He has been involved in numerous award-winning research, design and construction projects. He holds a PhD from the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University, UK and an MSc and BSc in Architecture from the University of Tehran, Iran. In 2009, he joined the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL where he developed an award-winning patented Thermal Shutter System. He then joined the University of Cambridge as the lead postdoctoral researcher working on a £750K EPSRC/DFID/DECC funded research project: "Energy and Low-Income Tropical Housing". 

Dr Hashemi's research interests can be classified under two main areas:

  • Building Performance Evaluation Dr Hashemi's primary research is on building performance evaluation in domestic and non-domestic buildings with a focus on  Indoor Air Quality; Thermal Comfort; Natural Lighting; Energy Efficiency; and Performance Gap. His research on the above areas has been through various means and methods including physical tests, post-occupancy evaluation, simulation and/or laboratory tests.
  • Offsite/Modern Methods of Construction - In his PhD, Dr Hashemi studied the relevance of Modern/Offsite Methods of Construction to delivering sustainable housing in the UK and in developing countries. His research was then expanded into more recent issues such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Mass Customisation.

Dr Hashemi is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), a Member of the Chartered Management Institute (MCMI), an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (ACIAT), and a Member of the Iranian Construction Engineers Organisation. He has also been acting as an expert panel member for reviewing the UKRI major funding applications as well as a guest editor, scientific chair and as a member of editorial boards of scientific committees of several international journals and conferences.

Dr Hashemi has been supervising MSc, MPhil and PhD students since 2014. He is currently supervising a Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA), EPSRC funded PhD student at University of Brighton.

Alfonso Senatore, Senior Lecturer in Architecture

Lifelong sustainability advocate, Alfonso's research addresses the links between architecture, technology and environment, with a focus on adaptive high-energy efficient building skins design and performance (new constructions and existing buildings, also with heritage significance), computational sustainable design tools and digital fabrication, green building material and data-driven digital solutions enabling informed design decisions based on material performance and sustainability criteria.

Alfonso's forward-thinking research work on green building materials and data-driven digital solutions for the building industry has received a number of awards such as the official endorsement of the U.S Green Building Council and the New York based International WELL Building Institute, two of the world's leading authorities of the green building sector. He has been supervising PhD students and masters' dissertations at the University of Palermo, the University of Florence and the University of Salerno, Italy, since 2014, working on low carbon domestic retrofit, AI and machine learning applications for building energy efficiency, computational design for environmentally-driven architecture design, bioclimatic and vernacular architecture.

Alfonso is currently the director of Ongreening, a Green Building Digital Hub, whose aim is promoting the dissemination of best green building and sustainable practices and cross-disciplinary collaborations across a range of scales promoting design innovations. Prior to establishing Ongreening, Alfonso has taken lead and executive management roles working globally with renowned architecture practices and engineering firms over the last 21 years. As an award-winning sustainability consultant, Alfonso served as a Sustainability Group Leader at Arup and a member of the Arup Italia Board Leadership; Meinhardt as an MEP & Sustainability Technical Director; Hilson Moran.

Dr Arya Assadi-Langroudi

Arya is Director for the Emerging Geohazards laboratory (, chair of NISE working party (Nature-Inspired Solutions for the Built Environment - a consortium of 26 Universities), director of the Engineering cluster and flagship Civil Engineering courses at UEL. He reads on micromechanics of cemented particulate matters, adaptive, responsive and biomimetic composite materials; all in the context of geohazards and changing environment (>£310k; >35 papers; RG>18.07; H-index>8).

Dr Ravindra Jayaratne

Ravindra's principal research interests are in the field of coastal engineering, particularly wave hydrodynamics, wave-structure interaction, sediment transport modelling and disaster prevention mechanisms against storm surges, extreme waves and Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) exacerbated by global warming effect and geophysical hazards such as tsunamis. I carried out several post-disaster field surveys in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Japan and UK.

Dr Jayaratne subsequently used field data to develop soft engineering solutions (e.g., management strategies, flood maps, education seminars, disaster preparedness activities) and hard engineering solutions (e.g., developing predictive tools; formulae/mathematical models, numerical models, and design guidelines) through collected field data, numerical, theoretical/mathematical and laboratory modelling of worst-case disaster scenarios for future resilience of flood defence and infrastructure. He has extended his research into modelling of natural hazards with disaster risk reduction (DRR) in coastal and river communities in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan and UK.

Dr Jayaratne has received external funding from the Kansai's University (2020), UK's Natural Environment Research Council (2018), Research England - Global Challenges Research Fund (2018), Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation (2018), Newton Fund (2017), Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2019), Royal Society (2014), Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Government of Japan (2013) Royal Academy of Engineering (2008, 2010), Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2005, 2010), Yokohama National University (2018), University of Tokyo (2016), Waseda University (2011, 2013), Japan.

Moreover, he has secured several internal funding grants from the UEL (Sabbatical Scheme 2018-19, Mid-Career Researcher Fund, 2016; Impact Fund, 2016, 2020; International Research Collaboration Fund, 2014; Early Career Researcher Accelerator Fund, 2012; Promising Researcher Award, 2009).

Dr Jayaratne has authored 100+ peer-reviewed journal, peer-reviewed conference proceeding and national-level research articles in the above disciplines. He has contributed to the School's UK REF2014 research submission (UoA 15 General Engineering) by submitting internationally standing 4 journal papers and the research grant awarded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (#D55). He is currently supervising 2 PhD students (as DoS) in coastal engineering/ disaster mitigation and 3 (2nd / 3rd Supervisor) in civil engineering infrastructure modelling. He is also the Impact Champion for the REF2021 Engineering submission (UoA 12 Engineering).

Dr Jayaratne is an Associate Editor for Coastal Engineering Journal of Taylor & Francis since September 2019. He serves as a peer-reviewer for the following journals: Maritime Engineering (ICE), Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal & Ocean Engineering (ASCE), Journal of Marine Science & Engineering (MDPI), Coastal Engineering Journal (JSCE/Taylor & Francis), Ocean Engineering (Elsevier) and Natural Hazards (Springer). Also, he is a reviewer of papers of the International Society of Offshore and Polar Engineers (ISOPE) and International Conference on Structural Engineering and Construction Management (ICSECM) Conference series.

Dr Jayaratne was an organising committee member of CIWEM-UEL Water Emergencies & Management Conference in 2019, Waseda-YNU Coastal Engineering Research Seminar series held in Sri Lanka in 2006 and UEL's AC&T Conference series from 2010-2012. He has been a Visiting Researcher to the Complex Disaster Research Institute of Waseda University since 2011, the Department of Urban Innovation of Yokohama National University (YNU), Japan in 2018, Department of Civil Engineering of University of Ottawa (uOttawa), Canada in 2017 and the Institute of Engineering of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in 2014. 

PhD researchers

Mr Hashem Taher

Hashem's research aims to investigate and determine the thermal effects of various urban green systems (UGS); trees, living facades and high albedo pavements, at street level, to assist in the mitigation of urban heat island (UHI) and reduce Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions within Central London, UK. His study quantifies the critical contribution by modelling urban vegetation densities or applying a high albedo pavement model for 2018 and then future climate scenarios 2050 and 2080. The research utilised ENVI-met software simulations, field measurements to validate the results and a questionnaire survey. Secondly, a questionnaire survey was designed to determine the intangible benefits of the urban green systems and how it would influence pedestrians' activities within the streets after applying them, in addition to determining the preferred UGS intervention with the preferred percentage by pedestrians. The research design strategy is to motivate pedestrians to walk for extended periods and facilitate alignment to follow the healthy streets initiative advocated by Transport for London and assisting in the transition for London to be the world's largest national park city by 2050, based on the current Mayor of London Plan.

Mr Bertug Ozarisoy

Bertug's research studies the energy use and its measures in buildings aiming to improve the energy efficiency of residential tower blocks (RTBs) in Famagusta, Northern Cyprus. The study employed a mixed-methods research design approach, which was based on a thorough field study that consisted of a questionnaire survey conducted with residents of the housing estate of the case study, to explore the occupants' thermal comfort and preferences, their home energy use and cooling strategies, occupancy patterns, as well as energy bills, amongst other variables. Concurrently, indoor air temperature and relative humidity (RH) measurements were collected during the same period. The subsequent phase of the research examined the existing energy performance of those representative RTBs under investigation by modelling and simulating dominant representative occupancy profiles using the Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) software suite. Notably, dynamic thermal modelling and simulations of base-case RTBs were adopted to provide succinct information on occupancy schedules over a long period of time.

Previous EDPRG members

Dr Sahar Zahiri

Sahar is currently a Research Fellow in Sustainable Building Performance at the School of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University, focusing on smart local energy systems projects. Sahar joined UEL as a Research Associate to BC-SDBE project in 2016.  She worked with the principal investigator (PI) of the project Dr Heba Elsharkawy on research activities to develop education for sustainability in Egypt and to identify appropriate retrofit strategies for social housing dwellings and office buildings in East London to reduce energy use and overheating risks. Additionally, Sahar assisted the project's PI to carry out other project-related activities such as organising training events for delegates from Egypt, as well as international conferences. She has been a key member of the team in undertaking research on building performance and the impact of climate change on the health, comfort and wellbeing of occupants of retrofitted residential buildings. Sahar was also involved in teaching activities to support students in building simulation modelling and analysis and technical studies. 

Dr Wei Shi (completed in 2018)

Wei Shi joined the Environmental Design Research Group (ERDG) in 2016. He conducted the research of 'An investigation into energy consumption behaviour and lifestyles in UK social housing: improving retrofit delivery and outcomes' and pursued the PhD in Architecture, sustainability at the University of East London. With the intention of promoting health, well-being and energy efficiency in the communities and industries, his research focuses on the optimization of home energy performance in relation to occupants' energy consumption behaviour. After receiving his PhD degree, Wei Shi worked as an architectural designer in the architectural practice until now. He has been involved in assisting and designing a variety of projects in the residential and infrastructure sectors. His insight into energy and environmental impact makes a great contribution to the projects.