Centre for



Theory and History

Research in this area focuses on the cultural, political and philosophical properties of contemporary and historic buildings. A deep understanding of history, theory and critique is vital to architectural, interior and urban design. Research in this area improves our capacity to understand the properties of buildings and spaces, the rationale behind their design and their possible impact on people. Moreover, research can also be undertaken into the formation of theories of design and into the way in which design histories are written. The significance of mathematics, geometry and science in design history and theory is also considered in this category.

Possible research topics include:

  • applications of post-structuralist, post-colonial or political theory in design
  • the use of geometry and mathematics in design
  • connections between architecture, art and film
  • history and theory of design
  • cultural heritage and Feng Shui
  • site and landscape theories
  • research through design

Computing and Cognition

This research area is concerned with a particular way of understanding the development of design knowledge and of analysing space and form. The design computing area includes a consideration of algorithmic, logical and repeatable processes of formal and spatial analysis and generation. Such processes can be focussed on either buildings or the design process itself. Design cognition is concerned with the way in which architectural skills are learnt, taught, understood and applied. Both design computing and cognition rely on the application of vigorous, repeatable methods and procedures, for developing new knowledge about the built environment.

Possible research topics include:

  • computational analysis of buildings and spaces
  • applications of shape grammar, fractal analysis and space syntax
  • design in virtual environments
  • parametric and generative design
  • ocial and psychological processes of creativity and design
  • professional and vocational education
  • the design and team processes
  • Building Information Models
  • information technology in the workplace.


Sustainable and resilient environments

Researchers in this field are interested in the way that societies plan and construct for the future, particularly ensuring that developments achieve a carbon neutral footprint, and are suitably planned for natural and human-induced disasters. Their research focuses on reduced resource consumption during construction and operation, and societal "resilience" – those qualities of the construction environment that shape its ability to recover from catastrophic events.

Possible research topics include:

  • "green" development and refurbishment;
  • adaptive reuse of heritage structures
  • the built environment and community health outcomes
  • linking early planning and eventual performance during a catastrophe
  • managed recovery and reconstruction to enhance societal/built environment performance in future catastrophes
  • knowledge capture in disaster-impacted complex dynamic systems
  • designing socially sustainable residential development
  • public and private sector supply chain resilience
  • consequential governmental prioritisation of social, economic and environmental planning and infrastructure development

Business governance

The governance of individual construction enterprises is impacted by multiple influences that are variously internal or external, and peculiar to the industry. Researchers in the School are experienced in the fields of procurement and contracting, risk management, trust, and construction industry policy.

Possible research topics include:

  • supply chain relationship management
  • internationalisation and development processes
  • public-private partnerships
  • project alliancing
  • Security of Payment Act
  • innovation capacity and firms' dynamic capabilities
  • ICT/BIM implementation at the level of the firm

Integrated project delivery

The architectural, engineering and construction sector is increasingly evolving and embracing digital practices to integrate the delivery of construction projects. Each stage of the built environment life cycle, specifically the design, construction and facility management stages, is significantly influenced by the digital transformation. Academics in the School conduct research to advance the theory and practice in these areas. The School investigates the people, processes, technologies and business cases for advanced information and communication technology integration in the context in project supply chains.

Possible research topics include: 

  • building information modelling (BIM) adoption
  • legal and contractual implications of integrated project delivery
  • procurement models for BIM
  • project team dynamics
  • professional development and training