Samer Akkach

Professor Samer Akkach


School of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Research Interests

Samer joined the University of Adelaide in 1993. He moved from Sydney where he received his Master of Architectural Design from the University of New South Wales in 1985, and his PhD from the University of Sydney in 1992.

Samer is an established scholar in two fields of study: architectural history and theory and Islamic studies. He has a cross-cultural background, interdisciplinary research interests, and a unique mix of expertise. The spectrum of his expertise include:

  • History and theory of architecture and landscape in general, and of Islamic art, architecture and landscape in particular.
  • Intellectual history of the Arab-Islamic and Ottoman traditions in the early modern period (16th - 19th centuries), with a special focus on the Enlightenment and transitions into modernity in both the European and the Arab-Ottoman worlds.
  • Socio-urban history of Middle Eastern cities in general, and Damascus in particular, during the early modern period, with special focus on the rise of urban secularism.
  • Islamic cosmology (pre- and post-Copernican traditions), philosophy (pre- and early modern), and mysticism (pre- and early modern).
  • History of Arab-Islamic science in the post-copernican period.

Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA)

Samer is Founding Director of the Centre for Asian and Middle Eastern Architecture (CAMEA), which was founded in 1997. CAMEA's establishment coincided with major shifts in peoples’ attitudes towards the built environment caused by unsettling changes in three areas: environment, technology, and culture.

  • Awareness of the long-term environmental consequences of modern urbanisation and industrialisation has highlighted the urgent need for new approaches to a sustainable future;
  • Advanced communication technologies have called for new ways of perceiving and dealing with reality; and
  • Intense cross-cultural interactions have generated a strong demand for broader and more culture-sensitive modes of architectural thinking.

CAMEA was founded to address the demand for new cross-cultural understanding of architecture in the context of these major global shifts. Despite the growing recognition of the importance of understanding cultural diversity, the foundations of most conventional approaches to the study of the constructed environments remain firmly seated in the European tradition. One of CAMEA’s long-term goals is to address the problems of Eurocentrism by opening up new horizons of thinking about our modern and pre-modern architecture, landscape, and urbanity. CAMEA's publications include:

S. Akkach et al (eds), Self, Place, and Imagination: Cross-Cultural Thinking in Architecture (Adelaide: CAMEA, 1999, 2nd printing 2000).

S. Akkach (ed.), De-Placing Difference: Architecture, Culture and Imaginative Geography (Adelaide: CAMEA, 2002, 2nd printing 2006).

P. Scriver (ed.), The Scaffolding of Empire (Adelaide: CAMEA, 2007). 

CAMEA Fifth International Conference, July 20-23, 2016
'Ilm: Science, Religion, and Art in Islam


Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Grants

2012-15: Islam and the Ethos of Science in the Post-Copernican Period 

(Sole Chief Investigator, recieved ARC Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA)).

2009-11: Islam and Secular Urban Culture in Early Modern Middle East 

(Sole Chief Investigator)

2006-09: Islam, Modernity and the Enlightenment: A New Perspective 

(Sole Chief Investigator)

Awards and Achievements

2015-2016   Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies' Prize for Research in Humanities and Social Science 

2012-15   Australian Research Council's Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award (DORA).

2010-11   Visiting Professorship, Arab International University, Damascus.

2010   Honorary Fellowship, Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi’s Society, Oxford and Berkeley.

2010   Australian Institute of Architects' Neville Quarry Architectural Education Prize

2009   Hamad bin Khalifa fellowship for Islamic Art.

2003   University of Adelaide’s Stephen Cole the Elder prize for excellence in teaching.

2002   Visiting Research Fellowship at MIT, The Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture.

2001   Society of Architectural Historians of North America’s Fellowship.

  • Representation II, Sem. 2
  • Final Project, Sem. 2
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2022 Principal Supervisor Aspects of the spiritual in modern Australian art Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Tracey Dianne Lock
    2021 Principal Supervisor Aesthetics, Perception and Vision in Islamic Cultures: Science, Religion, and the Arts Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Ellen Jean Philpott
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2016 - 2021 Principal Supervisor Making Art in Early Modern Java (16th-19th c.): A New Reading Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr James Bennett
    2015 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Emotions in Place: The Creation of the Suburban 'Other' in Early Modern London Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Dr Jade Michelle Riddle
    2015 - 2020 Principal Supervisor Woven Pleasure: Continuity and Change in Persian Carpet Making During the Safavid Period Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Mansoureh Rajabitanha
    2014 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Imperial Hunting Grounds: A New Reading of Mughal Cultural History Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Shaha Altaf Parpia
    2014 - 2017 Principal Supervisor The Garden as Art: A New Space for the Garden in Contemporary Aesthetics Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr John Francis Powell
    2013 - 2016 Principal Supervisor The Rise of Modern Urbanity (tamaddun) in the Arab World Education, Journalism, and Enlightenment Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mrs Kinda Alsamara
    2013 - 2018 Principal Supervisor Botanic and Poetic Landscapes: A Reading of Two Persian Texts on Early Safavid Gardens Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mrs Zahra Ranjbari
    2012 - 2012 Principal Supervisor Gardens of Damascus: Landscape and the Culture of Recreation in the Early Modern Period Master of Landscape Architecture Master Full Time Miss Georgina Hafteh
    2007 - 2014 Principal Supervisor BODY, SOUL, AND ARCHITECTURE
    A Study of the Premodern Islamic and Western Traditions
    Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Faris Akbar Hajamaideen
    2004 - 2013 Principal Supervisor Maps and Meanings: Urban Cartography and Urban Design Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Ms Julie Nichols
    2003 - 2008 Co-Supervisor 'Indian Architecture' and the Production of a Postcolonial Discourse: A Study of Architecture + Design (1984-1992) Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Shaji Kannanchira Panicker
    2002 - 2009 Principal Supervisor Architecture and the Politics of Identity in Indonesia A Study of the Cultural History of Aceh Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Izziah Hasan
    1997 - 2004 Principal Supervisor Charters and the Ethics of Conservation A Cross-Cultural Perspective Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Part Time Mr Barry Rowney
  • Position: Professor
  • Phone: 83135832
  • Email:
  • Fax: 83134377
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Horace Lamb, floor 4
  • Org Unit: Architecture and Landscape Architecture

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