Karen Arzate Quintanilla

Karen Arzate Quintanilla


Karen is PhD researcher at the Architecture & Urbanism Research Group, at the University of Leeds.


Her supervisory team is composed of Professor Gehan Selim as the main supervisor, and Dr Pam Birtill from the School of Psychology as co-supervisor. Her PhD research topic is: Investigating the interaction between sense of belonging and the physical characteristics of educational space among undergraduate students at HEIs: the study of the University City Central Campus in Mexico. This research will explore how the physicality of educational spaces and their interaction with human perception contribute to augmenting the sense of belonging among undergraduate students in HEIs, demonstrating how physical matter, hence, the materiality of architecture is important.

She obtained her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts and Education: A constructionist approach, at the University of Barcelona. During her Master´s programme, she undertook ethnographic research at Escola Drassanes. In addition, back in Mexico City, she coursed a specialization programme in sustainability, focused on the regeneration of educational buildings by implementing bioclimatic strategies. 

She has over 4 years of experience as a lecturer in Mexico City and has always been involved in educational matters. Karen is a scholar of the National Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) and of the National Fund for Arts and Culture (FONCA).


Research interests

Karen´s multidisciplinary research involving architecture and education started back in 2017, with her undergrad dissertation titled “ The building as a mean in architectural education: The secret life of the design studio”. While studying Architecture, she became involved as a Member in the Student Council of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), which made her more interested in how architecture is taught and learnt. While studying for her master’s degree, she developed her second dissertation “Re-think, Re-consider, and Re-imagine educational spaces within the complexity of human and non human intra-actions”. This research allowed her to discover the new materialism theories to visualize a different approach towards design. During her specialization programme in sustainability, she became more aware of climate change, discovering the main thread of her research: architecture, education and environment. 



  • BA Architecture
  • MA Arts and Education: a constructionist approach
  • Specialization on Bioclimatic Architecture

Research groups and institutes

  • Architecture and urbanism