• York Street, Belfast Campus

    BT15 1ED Belfast

    United Kingdom

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1995 …2023

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Dr Saul Golden, RIBA, SFHEA, is a Lecturer in Architecture and Spatial Design at Ulster University’s Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment. He is a Chartered UK architect with over 25-years of international practice, research, and teaching expertise across architecture, interior and urban design.

A dual American and UK citizen, Saul holds a BSc in Architecture (University of Virginia, 1992); an MArch Degree with Urban Design Certificate (University of Washington, 1997); a Certificate in Professional Practice and Management in Architecture (ARB/RIBA Part III, Bartlett, University College London, 1999); and a PhD (Ulster University, 2016). His professional practice experience includes management level roles as lead designer and project architect for the delivery of complex, award winning projects with globally recognised practices including Perkins Eastman, NY; Gensler, London (Associate); and Kennedy FitzGerald Architects, Belfast (Senior Architect), with whom he won a 2006 RSUA Design Award and RIBA Conservation Commendation. From 2002-2006, he held part-time BSc Hons Architecture Design Tutor roles at Queen’s University Belfast, prior to his full-time academic appointment at Ulster University from 2007.

Saul's research and teaching are underpinned by applying theory and practice experience to active learning and knowledge-sharing methodologies for socially-driven sustainable place-making, effective public engagement skills and processes, and transformative approaches to critical spatial agency.

Outside of his academic roles, Saul enjoys a strong international professional network through his practice, Gillespie-Golden Architects, his prior roles as Director of NI Built Environment charity PLACE (2012-2018), and his PSRB work with the RIBA and RSUA. In 2016, he was elected by Chartered peers to a 3-year term as a Trustee and Northern Ireland representative to RIBA Council, and also as a Director on RSUA Council. He is widely published in peer-reviewed journals and conference papers, and serves as an invited member of multiple international Scientific and Technical Review Committees in the US and Europe. He is also currently an appointed member of the RIBA Research Grants Sub-Committee, on behalf of the RIBA Council and RIBA Research Trust.

Teaching Interests

Saul's holds teaching accreditations as a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (2017) and Fellow of the Centre for Higher Education Practice (2011), recognised for consistent academic excellence delivering innovative Teaching and Learning activities alongside his Subject, Year, and Course Leadership roles. He provides management, supervision, mentoring, and pastoral support to students and teaching colleagues, and has held multiple Module Coordinator roles for design, technology, communication, theory, and professional practice in all undergraduate and post-graduate levels (4-7). At all levels, he applies scholarship-informed and research-led pedagogies, with several grants secured in support of creative constructively-aligned experiential learning and teaching approaches on diverse course teams, and to different built-environment disciplines. He has also been endorsed by the HEA for sharing his pedagogic knowledge and collegiate experience through more formal mentoring as a Course Director and through multiple peer-reviewed conference papers, book chapters, edited books, and invited presentations. 

Saul has taught in both the Belfast School of Architecture & the Built Environment (BSABE), primarily on the BA (Hons) Architecture and MArch courses from 2007-2016, and in the Belfast School of Art where he took up a 3-year post as Course Director for BDes (Hons) Interior Design in 2016. Since 2019, within BSABE, he applies his subject expertise to teaching on the BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology & Management (ATM) course, where he leads the final year Technical Design studio and an integrated ATM-Building Surveying Conversion and Adaptation Module, drawing on his award-winning practice experience and networks. In 2020, he took took over the Urban Design and Placemaking module for MScI Planning, Regeneration & Development, connecting projects to live research in Belfast via remote-learning during Covid-19. He also contributed his subject leadership in architecture and urban design to the successful internal and RTPI validation of a new course, MSc Planning and City Resilience, on which he contributes to the Healthy Communities Module, involving the course's first cohort directly in Belfast THRI(VES), his research with Belfast City Council and fellow MScI teaching colleagues.   

  • MSc Planning and City Resilience, Contributor, new UU-RTPI validated postgraduate course, 2020+
  • MScI Planning, Regeneration & Development, Y2 Module Coordinator, Y4 Supervisor, 2020+
  • BSc (Hons) ATM, Y1-Y4 Module Coordinator, Supervisor, 2019+ 
  • BDes (Hons) Interior Design, Course Director, Subject-Module-Placement Coordinator, 2016-2019
  • MArch, Level 1 Year Leader, Module Coordinator, Level 2 Supervisor, 2012-2016
  • BA (Hons) Architecture, Y2 Leader, Y1-Y3 Module Coordinator, 2007-2012
    • Admissions Coordinator, 2008-2012
    • Erasmus-International Studies Coordinator, 2008-2010

External to teaching at Ulster, Saul has represented the School of Architecture on RSUA Council and RSUA Education Committee. He is an appointed External Tutor for Oxford Brookes University's "RIBA Studio," providing part-time teaching for students working toward RIBA Part I and II while in full-time practice. He is a HEA trained Examiner with QAA expertise in Art & Design and Architecture subjects, holding two appointed Examining roles: University of Chester-Florence Institute of Design International (FIDI BA Hons Design, Graphic & Interior, 2017-2021) and Griffith College Dublin (BA Hons Interior Architecture, and BA Interior Design, 2019-2022). 

Research Interests

Saul is increasingly and internationally recognised for his sustainable, healthy communities research and industry collaborations with a global range of partners and projects that he shares through peer-reviewed publications and presentations. His research extends from early interests explored in his 1997 MArch-Urban Design thesis Architecture, Infrastructure, and Community in South Bronx, NY, to his substantial 2016 PhD, Beyond Architecture: Other Influences on Approaches to Practice and Shared Urban Space, which applied Bourdieu’s agent-field analysis to architectural praxis. His projects typically combine architectural, urban, and sociological theory and methodologies to uniquely examine both the nature and impacts of urban regeneration, development, and architects’ roles in society through the lens of built-environments and lived experience.

From his roles on RIBA Council since the successful completion of his PhD in 2016, Saul has developed a new international network of architects and academics, and a track record of internationally excellent externally funded projects. He has initiated and led projects at different scales and global contexts, from local NI neighbourhood interventions to urban centres in the UK, Europe and the Americas, and ambitious projects in marginalised rural settlements and developing countries of the Global South.  

In-line with Ulster’s 5&50 Global Vision goals for academics to build diverse international networks, Saul has become a global champion leading the establishment of new teaching and research partnerships. Examples include representing BSABE on Ulster’s first joint PhD Supervision team in China with Art & Design Research Director Justin Magee (Lead Supervisor) and Professor Yong Xie of Shenyang University; and personally, initiating partnerships between Ulster and Jefferson University, Philadelphia, since 2018 - with and on behalf of Ulster Global Engagement and R&I. In recognition of leadership in outcomes including a joint MoU with Jefferson for CEBE and LHS faculties, and the establishment of new jointly funded All-Island Ireland Center for Global Research (AIICGR) between Jefferson, Ulster, UCDublin and TUDublin in 2020, Saul was appointed Co-Chair of the new Center’s Smart & Healthy Cities Cluster. Together with the Dean of Jefferson’s College of Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), Saul has responsibility to both lead leaders in Ulster and to support less research-active colleagues as contibutors to developing a suitably diverse team with Jefferson, UCD, and TUD counterparts, and to build a track record of collaboration for global research funding bids.

In 2016, Saul formally established a UK-trademarked research collective, Urban Research Lab (URL), a collaborative for applying transdisciplinary and performative tactics and methodologies to shape and co-construct meaning in shared urban spaces, which links his recent projects and outputs for future consideration as a global-leading body of work. Markers of esteem and personal impact include invited roles as a Visiting Academic with the Bamford Centre for Mental Health and Wellbeing, securing funding for joint research and related PhD supervision on architecture, interior and urban design health challenges for intergenerational living, ageing-in-place, and persons suffering from cognitive disabilities. Examples of funded projects below tackle UN SDGs, challenges from long-term risks to sustainable cities and communities, and immediate health and socio-economic threats from Covid-19:

Sustainable Design and Shared Space (SDDS): Saul secured DfE GCRF Pump-priming funding in 2017-18 for a 6-month project in Ghana, investigating integrated architecture, rainwater-harvesting (RWH), and solar energy approaches to health and socio-economic inequality in urban-rural DAC communities. Saul was PI and, as an ECR, led the new UK-Ghana-US academic and industry team with the CSIR-Ghana Institute for Industrial Research, senior researchers from Ulster’s CST and NIBEC, and RWH-building expert Professor David Turnbull of ATOPIA Research and The Cooper Union, NY (one of Saul’s PhD interviewees). Through Belfast workshops and fieldwork in Ghana, SDSS developed an original Habitable Index (HI), a toolkit for evaluating qualities of drinking water, sanitation, energy access, and housing in developing countries. A network of NGOs, industry, Government, and local community collaborators assisted access to inner-Accra neighbourhoods and remote cocoa-farming villages; these short-term activities resulted in measurable impacts and resilient partnerships.

Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, Italian Pavilion Commission, RWH Installation: Developing from the SDSS pilot proposals for rain-water harvesting (RWH) installations in Ghana with CSIR-IIR, Saul and Professor Turnbull (University of Portsmouth) received a prestigious international commission from the Curator of the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale Italian Pavilion. They will design a temporary RWH installation for Italy's Giardino delle Vergini venue, to be installed from September-November 2021. The commission, supported by Italy's Ministry of Culture, features didactic sculptural artefacts, linked to SDSS and a new body of research activity, WATERSHED:Africa, that includes Saul's Ulster supported eponymous 2021 UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship 4-year bid to work with new partners in Ghana, Botswana and Malawi on RWH projects. The commission is a relevant part of the Italian Pavilion’s Global South theme, Explorations of Resilient Public Space as an abstracted and temporary educational and engagement device. The Italian Pavilion Curator, Prof Alessandro Melis, highlighted Saul's role and URL work for,  "contributing significantly [as an architect] to improving the quality of life we lead and providing adequate responses to the environmental changes of our time." Delivered in collaboration with Florence Institute of Design International, and with £10K BSABE contributory funding, the artefacts will travel as an exhibition to Florence, Istanbul, and Belfast following the Biennale, and then be gifted to SDSS and new WATERSHED:Africa partners in Ghana, Botswana, and Malawi in anticipation of Saul continuing to develop these networks alongside other Ulster global-leading researchers.

Funded Projects, Belfast THRI(VES) and CCQoL: Through current grant funding, Saul is active as PI and CoI in two NI and UK-based projects. Belfast THRI(VES): Transformative Health & Regeneration Initiatives (for Vibrancy, Equality, and Sustainability), is a 6-month urban health, wellbeing and inclusive planning partnership with Belfast City Council and the Department for Infrastructure, supported by the DfC Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Fund; and as Co-I (with Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh) on a UK-wide AHRC project, Community Consultation for Quality of Life (CCQoL), led by University of Reading from July 2021 to November 2023. These projects are linked conceptually and methodologically through Saul’s URL activity, peer-reviewed journal publications and precedents; they examine how physical and digital consultation impacts on qualities of inclusive planning, health, wellbeing, urban development, public space, and housing.

Belfast THRI(VES) is a £30K project, officially launched by Ulster University through the Office of the Vice Chancellor on 10.05.2021. A publicised photo press release included Belfast City Council Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey, DfI Minister Nichola Mallon, and Ulster PVC (Research) Liam Maguire with input from DfC Minister Deirdre Hargey. The research continues through September 2021 and has already resulted in a civic outcome through a free internationally recognised online symposium, 16-17.06.2021. Both days featured strong engagement from over 125 registrants with events including four international keynote speakers from London, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Auckland - hosted by Dr Wendy Austin MBE and opened by DfC Minisiter Hargey and DfI Miniter Mallon. It also featured Belfast-focused panel sessions Chaired by Ulster University researchers Dr Gavan Rafferty (Planning), Prof Duncan Morrow (Social Sciences) and Prof Gerry Leavey (Psychology); and a dedicated student-focused session with MScI Graduands presenting selected Dissertation research to a respondent RTPI panel, Chaired by MSc Planning and City Resilience Course Director Dr Linda McElduff. The project continues to engage an international audience through BCC PR and wide-spread social media coverage ahead of primary survey and workshop research in Belfast during Summer 2021 with BCC, DfI, and DfC partners. 

CCQoL, Community Consultation for Quality of Life is a £900K AHRC UK-wide funded project led by University of Reading (Prof Flora Samuel, PI) with Saul as Co-I for Ulster, representing Northern Irelend. It received approval on 08.06.2021 and runs from 01.07.2021 for 30 months. It is a unique national collaboration with global-leading potential, connecting London, Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh as four test site for meanwhile uses and community engagement in collaboration with the Quality of Life Foundation, the community consultation platform Commonplace, inclusive consultation experts Urban Symbiotics, and the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CACHE). It is supported by a wide range of prominent policy and industry organisations in each region and at UK-level from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), Civic Voice and the British Property Federation. Saul’s lead role for Northern Ireland included setting out the research scope and securing letters of support; he was successful in gaining support from from BCC, Community Places NI, Connswater Homes Ltd, NIHE, and charity Supporting Communities

Current and Recent Grants

Community Consultation for Quality of Life (CCQoL). Samuels, F (Reading), PI. CoIs: Golden, S (Ulster), Mcvicar, M (Cardiff), & Brennan, J (Edinburgh). Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Grant Ref: AH/V00901X/1.                                                                                                                       £913,889.00 (Ulster, £108K) Award date: 8/06/21; 1/7/21 – 30/11/23.

Belfast THRI(VES) - Transformative Health and Regeneration Initiatives (for Vibrancy, Equality and Sustainability). Golden S, PI. CoIs: Rafferty, G., & Leavey, G. Belfast City Council, Department for Communities Covid-19 Revitalisation Programme Funding, and Department for Infrastructure NI.£30,000.00 Award date: 8/01/21; 1/12/20 → 31/08/21. 

Sustainable architecture & design to address acute water-stress, energy delivery, health and socio-economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Golden, S., PI. CoIs: Fernandez-Ibanez, P., Smyth, M. & Byrne, J. Department for the Economy (GCRF Pump-Priming).                                                                    £29,464.00 Award date: 9/10/17; 1/04/17 → 31/03/18. 

PhD Researcher Profile

Saul has established expertise across architectural, urban design, social sciences and visual arts-based disciplines including performative, participatory, and interpretive methdologies for quantitative and qualitative aspects, perceptions, and data about built environments and public space, public engagement and place, critical spatial agency, and lived experience in relation to transformative, creative career trajectories. 

Saul has five current inter-disciplinary Lead and Co-Supervisor roles with international researchers in multiple Faculties and Research Units, including - through NIBEC, connected to GCRF SAFEWATER funded projects; and through the Belfast School of Art, Ulster's first PhD Co-Supervision with China's Shenyang University. Topics range across architecture, urban design and planning, engineering, art, and health subjects including intergenerational healthy communities (child-friendly cities and young-old friendly public spaces), integrated clean water technology and sustainable social housing in developing counties, graphic design and professional-vernacular craft art-practice, and the role of urban universities as regeneration catalysts for liveability.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

Education/Academic qualification

SFHEA, Higher Education Academy

Award Date: 3 Mar 2017

PhD, Beyond Architecture: Other Influences on Approaches to Practice and Urban Space

1 Jan 200920 Apr 2016

Award Date: 20 Apr 2016

Fellow, Centre for Higher Education Practice, Fellow Centre for Higher Education Practice

Award Date: 10 Oct 2011

Fellow, Higher Education Academy, Fellow Higher Education Academy

Award Date: 5 Nov 2009

Certificate in Professional Practice and Management in Architecture, University College London

Award Date: 29 Jun 1999

Master, Master of Architecture with Certificate of Urban Design, University of Washington

Award Date: 13 Jun 1997

Bachelor, Bachelor of Science in Architecture, University of Virginia

Award Date: 17 May 1992

MArch Study Exchange, University of Liverpool School of Architecture

Aug 1995Jan 1996

External positions

External Examiner - Interior Architecture, Griffith College

Nov 2019 → …

External Examiner-Design-Florence Institute of Design International, University of Chester


Co-Founder, Gillespie Golden Architects, Gillespie Golden Architects

2016 → …

Invited Committee Member - Research & Grants Sub-Committee, RIBA

2016 → …

Director-Trustee, Royal Institute of British Architects


Director-Trustee, Royal Society of Ulster Architects


Strategic Design Group, Ministerial Advisory Group (MAG), Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL)


Director-Trustee, PLACE NI, Charity, PLACE NI (Planning Landscape Architecture Community Environment), Charity No 104966


Senior Architect, Kennedy FitzGerald Architects LLP, Belfast, Kennedy FitzGerald Architects LLP, Belfast


Associate, Gensler Architecture, London, Gensler Architecture, London


Technician-Draughtsperson, Rhodes Architectural Masony, Seattle, WA, Rhodes Architectural Masonry, Seattle, WA


Architectural Assistant, Procter + Wang Architects, New York, NY, Procter + Wang Architects, New York, NY


Architectural Assistant, Perkins Eastman Architects PC, New York, NY, Perkins Eastman Architects PC, New York, NY


Architectural Intern, Scogin Elam and Bray [Mack Scogin Merril Elam] Architects, Atlanta, GA



  • NA Architecture
  • Spatial Planning
  • Urban Design
  • Architecture
  • Shared Space
  • Healthy Communities
  • Ageing Populations
  • Sustainability
  • Placemaking
  • Interior Design
  • Ageing-in-place
  • H Social Sciences (General)
  • agency
  • critical spatial practice
  • identity
  • habitus


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