Department of Architecture blogOur Research Impact: Architecture, Built Environment & Urbanism

Our Research Impact: Architecture, Built Environment & Urbanism 

The Department of Architecture has a strong legacy of built environment research which has expanded to reflect contemporary challenges facing the built environment today, focusing on real-world problems and improving peoples’ lives.

Here are some highlights of our research endeavours including themes and groupings; key impacts; engagement with funding organisations and research beneficiaries and collaborations.

Research themes & groupings

Our competence manifests in the international reputation our research leaders enjoy and the endeavours of clusters and units within our two key research areas that address environmental and societal challenges facing the built environment, in local and global contexts.

Sustainability and the Built Environment includes: 

Urbanism and Global Cities includes:

Our Key Impacts

We have achieved significant impacts in research areas including design and sustainability and urban research for enhancing decision making on urban dynamics in cities. Our approach to facilitate impact is centred on transdisciplinary action and knowledge production, sharing and exchange, and promoting collaboration. Our key impact areas include: 

  • Protecting occupant health, reducing energy, and lowering carbon emissions through building ventilation regulation and control: 
    This includes sustainable building performance which is centred on energy reduction and ventilation undertaken to improve sustainable building performance in Scotland and the UK, to protect occupant health, save energy and reduce carbon emissions.  
    Impacts involve shaping UK Government policy and public health advice to reduce COVID-19 transmission and influencing Scottish common law; and informing Building Regulations and industry guidance to improve building performance in Scotland and the UK including Scottish Government Energy Standards and guidance for building service engineers (Stirling HowiesonPaul TuohyTim Sharpe).  
  • Improving the social and environmental sustainability of buildings and cities through innovative design and education
    Spanning various scales, disciplines, and geographies, this work contributes to the realisation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and includes: enhancing design decision-making; advancing sustainable design amongst non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in South Asia; enabling best practice in construction waste planning and management for a circular economy in Scotland; enhancing urban governance models to accommodate multicultural societies and integrate sustainable urbanism in the Middle East; and strengthening professional practice and education in the Balkans (David GriersonBranka DimitrijevicAshraf Salama).  
  • Developing new tools and processes for master planning for urban sustainability and resilience.  
    This includes impacts that include: public sector and industry sponsored project-based teaching (Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Housing Association, Architecture and Design Scotland); industry sponsored research projects on urban form resilience leading to impact on UN-Habitat’s urban policies (Ax:son Foundation, Arup Engineering); Plot-Based Urbanism guidelines for urban planning and design in the Russian Federation (Strelka, Moscow); and new model generated international network of academics and professionals in “Building Beauty”, with experimental course in Sorrento, Italy (Sergio PortaOmbretta Romice). 
  • Modelling and monitoring the built environment to support the clean energy transition: 
    This includes Energy systems, conservation strategies and simulation tools which is centred on the development of advanced software tools for the planning, design and monitoring of low carbon environments. These tools are made available under an open-source licence and have been applied by staff and construction industry practitioners worldwide to adapt to the changing energy landscape, inform performance improvements and energy demand reduction in urban contexts, and expand construction business offerings. The work has informed energy-related policy and standards intended to drive societal change and the identification of new business opportunities for technology deployments (Joseph ClarkeNicolas KellyPaul StrachanDaniel CostolaJon HandAizaz Samuel). 

Find out more about our research

Our engagement with funding organisations and research beneficiaries

Integral to our Department’s effort is to ensure maximum impact through further and wider contributions to national and international research organisations, UK and international governments, and academic institutions. Contributions include: 

Examples of advisory roles and trustee memberships

  • Agapiou since 2017, Architects Professional Examination Authority Scotland; 2016-2018, Scottish Mediation; W113 Working Commission, Law and Dispute Resolution, International Council for Research and Innovation in Building and Construction – (CIB); RIBA Professional Practice Panel. 
  • Chen, Innovation Champion, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre. 
  • DimitrijevicScottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities; Chairing judging panel for the RIBA President’s Awards for Research. 
  • Gonzales-Longo, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS-CIF); RIBA Conservation Register Accreditation Panel. 
  • GriersonESRC/NSFC Europe-China grant for collaborative researchCosanti Foundation Strategic Plan Steering Committee, Arizona, USA. 
  • McGill, UKRI SPF Clean Air Scoping Workshop on 'Research challenges and state of the art in indoor air quality, health and the built environment'; Scottish Government Evidence in Policy fortnight; British Council funded UK-China Researcher Links Workshop on 'Childhood Respiratory Disease in UK and China, Chongqing, China. 
  • Porta since 2016, Research Council of Università di Firenze, Naples, Italy. 
  • Romice Glasgow urban Design Panel. 
  • Salama, Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; Swiss National Science Foundation; UIA/UNSCO Committee for International Validation in Architecture; (LAM) Board of Architects of Malaysia. 
  • Sharpe,  UK Government Advisory Group for Emergencies Environments and Modelling Group (SAGE-EMG);  Chair NHBC Scotland Technical Committee, and NHBC Construction Quality Expert Panel; National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Public Health Advisory Committee on Indoor Air Quality; Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) working group, The Effects of Indoor Air on Children’s Health Across the Lifecourse; British Standards Institute (BSI) Retrofit Standards Task Group.   

Examples of commissioned reports to government and academic institutions

  • Clarke: Reports for the Korea Institute for Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning, 
  • Grierson, Dimitrijevic: Scottish Government report by ZWS, Designing Out Construction Waste: a guide for Architects and Designers. 
  • McGill, Sharpe: Scottish Government report on decentralised mechanical ventilations in new—build dwellings, Innovate UK Building Performance Evaluation Programme. 
  • Porta: Reports to the National Federation of Cooperative Construction, Italy. 
  • Romice, Porta: Report to the Fund of Integrated Housing Development Institution of the Russian Federation. 
  • Salama, Porta: Expert Report on new postgraduate research degrees at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Mineral, College of Environmental Design, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. 
  • Sharpe: 4 Scottish Government report, Innovate UK, TSB, Royal College of Paediatrics and NICE commissioned reports on air quality in home environments.   

Examples of service to the wider discipline

Our research teams are involved in various capacities with journals at the forefront of research in architecture, urbanism and built environment. Over the past few years, they have guest edited more than 15 special issues of journals and assumed various editorial roles: 

  • Chen: Specialty Chief Editor, Frontiers in Built Environment. 
  • McGill: Associate Editor, Architectural Science Review. 
  • Romice: Editorial Advisory Board, Hogrefe Environment-Behaviour Series. 
  • Salama: Chief Editor of two journals, Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research & Open House International. 
  • Sharpe: Editor, Special Issue International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: "Designing Healthy Indoor Air Quality"; Guest editor on a Special Edition 'ZEMCH Interdisciplinary Design for Sustainability' Springer

Selected awards & recognition

The work of our research teams has been recognised nationally and internationally with 14 awards received over the past few years. Examples of these awards include: 

  • Dimitrijevic: Outstanding Reviewer, Emerald Literati Award 2019. 
  • Grierson: Outstanding Contribution in the Closing Panel of the International Congress on Environment and Design, Istanbul, Turkey, 2014. 
  • Howieson and Sharpe: Napier Shaw Medal 2015- highest rated papers of the year on application and research respectively, published in CIBSE’s Building Services Engineering Research and Technology journal (BSERT). 
  • Howieson: Scotland’s top early stage and high growth potential entrepreneurs, Scottish Edge Wild Card Award 2014. 
  • McGill: Best Paper Award, International Conference on Sustainability in Energy and Buildings, Cardiff, 2014. 
  • Salama: UIA the Jean Tschumi Prize for Excellence in Architectural Criticism, International Union of Architects, Paris, France, 2017. 
  • Sharpe: Saltire Society Innovation in Housing Award with John Gilbert Architects), 2 ‘A’ rated KTP projects (John Gilbert Architects, Building Performance Evaluation of existing dwellings; Cartwright Pickard Architects, to develop innovative tools for applying building information modelling (BIM) and building performance evaluation (BPE) for application within the build to rent market.

Our early career researchers and PhD students have been recognised at the University level and nationally through several awards and recognitions including:

  • The Institute of Historic Buildings Conservation.
  • Best presentation award from the Advanced Materials Congress in Sweden.
  • A National Urban Design Group award.
  • Royal Town Planning Institute award for urban design students. 

Find out more about our excellence and awards. 

Selected collaboration activities

  • Our collaboration with the University’s Institute for Future Cities (IFC), a world-leading cross-disciplinary venture linked to the Technology Strategy Board’s Future City Demonstrator and City Observatory, is enhanced through several activities. These include the joint development of bids (PortaRomice), collaboration in the organisation and delivery of the Department’s annual symposia led by Dimitrijevic (2015-2020), and collaboration in joint knowledge exchange seminars offered to delegations of urban planners and officials from China, 2016 and Poland 2018, (Dimitrijevic); and from Kenya, 2015 and the Netherlands, 2018 (Salama). 
  • Our staff have used the University’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Pump Priming scheme to establish international research links and develop collaborative research proposals. Collaborating with the School of Business and Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, our staff (Salama) have been co-investigators in Re-Enterprising the 'Forgotten Villages of Greater Cairo' (GCRF Pump Priming) which subsequently led to successful partnerships with Cairo University and Arab Academy for Science & Technology in subsequent projects related to COVID19, funded by GCRF and Scottish Funding Council. These projects addressed Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Cultural Heritage in Greater Aswan, Egypt and more recently Navigating COVID-19 related transitions and transformations of economically marginalised women entrepreneurs within urban poor communities of the Greater Cairo Region in Egypt (GCR).  
  • Utilising GCRF funding, our staff (Dimitrijevic) collaborated in multi-disciplinary research-informing workshop, in collaboration with the University of the Philippines Diliman to engage with tourism from a social and economic inclusion perspective in the context of the contemporary city. This offered multiple perspectives on the theme including gender, economic, employment, human rights, urban planning, architecture, law and anthropology. A key outcome of this collaboration is a significant bid being developed for submission to the UK wide scheme - British Academy UK under GCRF. 
  • The department has collaborated in various international research and KE activities which were supported by external funding (Erasmus+ KLABS project, 2016-2018: Erasmus+ KA107 with the University of Belgrade Serbia, 2018-2020; Erasmus+ staff mobility activities). Within the KLABS project, Dimitrijevic, Grierson and Salama provided support for the development of MSc courses on sustainability and resilience of the built environment which were successfully established at 6 universities in Western Balkan countries. The project also published 5 books that are used in teaching at the above MSc courses. Dimitrijevic co-edited one of these books with academics from TU Delft, Netherlands and IUAV, Venice, Italy. The KLABS project involved extensive KE activities including workshops and quarterly meetings in all partner institutions. The KA107 project with the University of Belgrade, Serbia, involved exchange of teaching at PG level and research visits of two PhD students from each institution. Three joint journal publications are being developed as an outcome of this exchange. 
  • Tim Sharpe: resulting in networking funding from NERC, engagement in a COP26 low energy demonstration project, and involvement in the National Core Studies funded by the Health and Safety Executive. These projects address pressing research issues related to indoor air quality, building performance and occupants’ health, and their integration into professional practice. This clearly aligns with key United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) 2030 Climate Challenge, which sets relevant targets for practices to meet in the next decade.

Our future research & impact agenda

Within the context of the University’s Vision 2025, our research and impact agenda is to retain and consolidate the themes developed over the past decade and to capitalise on recent efforts to develop additional research capacity and breadth within the Department.

This includes a broadening of the research expertise in Architecture, Built Environment and Urbanism to include key areas such as energy, climate change and the low carbon agenda, and health. This is expected to further enhance the development of interdisciplinary research links in the Faculty, University and beyond. 

Our interest is to secure more diverse, and international, funding through international partnerships to maximise impact on policy and decision making in contexts that need support. This will involve enhancing our current partnerships with the Middle East and Malaysia and China, developing new partnerships in Africa and South Asia while capitalising on engagement with our current EU initiatives.

We aim to further expand our links with national key partners and stakeholders, and city and cultural institutions to facilitate the co-construction and co-production of knowledge and to enhance its impact on industry, policy, and practice.

Whether you are a prospective research student, a potential research partner, or a funding agency seeking to engage with the breadth and depth of knowledge in architecture, urbanism and built environment, we are always delighted to hear from you.

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