Dr Gabriela Zapata-Lancaster PhD. Arch, MSc. Arch, BSc. Arch.


+44 (0)29 2087 0643
T.16, Bute Building
Research group:
Architectural Science Group


My work focuses on building performance and sustainability aspects of the built environment, including design and operational phases. My current research looks at the sustainability of the built environment and user factors’ in building performance.

Social perceptions and use of water, as team member of the project ‘A Critical Regionalist Approach to Sustainable Urban Development Through The Transformative Use of Green Infrastructure’. Collaborative project with School of Planning and Geography in Cardiff, University of Florida and University of Indonesia.

Social factors in the performance of an off-grid house, project with Constructing Excellence Wales and colleagues in the Welsh School of Architecture
BREEAM actual vs. predicted performance, project with the Building Research Establishment.

External activities

  • Reviewer of international peer-review journals: Building Research and Information, Energy Policy
  • Volunteering activities in the social housing sector on energy efficiency and housing quality

Other information

Additional interests:

  • Socio-technical perspectives to analyse environmental and energy performance of buildings and built environment
  • Social science methods in built environment research
  • Usability studies (occupant-building technologies; designers- energy performance design tools)

Research interests

Gabriela’s research interests include the evaluation of the energy performance and sustainability of buildings, design studies and usability studies. She has investigated these topics in the scope of design and operational stages of the building process.

Her work on in-use performance investigates the human factors that affect the building energy use. She applies qualitative methods, user surveys and monitoring methodologies to study the actions and behaviours of occupants in buildings and their impact on operational performance.
During her PhD investigation, she analysed how design teams adopted energy standards in England and Wales, focused on the tools and the knowledge for low energy design. This PhD was funded by a BRE Trust Studentship.

She has worked on sustainable rating systems and methods to evaluate the environmental impact of buildings. During her MSc studies in the USA (funded by Fulbright/Senacyt grant), she worked on a research team that developed a sustainable rating standard for Qatar and a project to develop a tool for the evaluation of courthouse buildings during early design stages. Other projects include’ Guidelines for the preservation of heritage buildings in Guayaquil, Ecuador’ and ‘Assessment of the environmental impact of bamboo as construction material for low-income housing in Ecuador’.

Research supervisor

Main expertise

Socio-technical perspectives to analyse environmental and building performance
Sustainable building assessment and building performance evaluation
Design process

Supervision experience

Currently supervising 2 PhD students as second supervisor

Additional supervision interests

Social science methods applied to built environment research
Performance-based design

Teaching profile

  • Contribution to lectures and tutorials on passive design, post occupancy evaluation, energy regulations, research methods to MSc students (March II, March Professional Studies, MSc. Architecture Science)
  • Presentations on CPD programmes for building industry practitioners (RSAW Sustainability Jigsaw, BEST Post Occupancy Evaluation)

Prior experience in teaching at BSc. level:

  • BSc. Architecture Design Year 3 coleader (2014)
  • Teaching Assistant in the module renewable energy (2010) School of Engineering, Cardiff University, UK
  • Modules on evaluation of thermal comfort (DesignBuilder), Fundamentals of Physics, Geometry and Maths for architectue students in Universidad Catolica de Santiago de Guayaquil, Ecuador

Gabriela holds a PhD in Architecture from Cardiff University (funded by a Building Research Establishment PhD studentship) and a Master Degree in Architecture Building Technologies from the Georgia Institute of Technology, USA (funded by Fulbright/Senacty grant). She is an architect with an interest in sustainable buildings, building performance, design studies/design knowledge and social science methods in built environment research.