UNSW Built Environment: Dean Alec Tzannes on Research

10 06 2010

Research at UNSW Built Environment is important for our faculty’s reputation, as it is critical to attracting students, funding and future staff. Research now includes recognition for creative work and design-based research to parallel more conventional modes and outcomes.

The world media, it seems to me, is increasingly turning its attention to university research, supporting opinions and community debate on relevant issues.  If my observation is true, it suggests that the importance of research is accelerating, giving more public recognition to those that do it. Perhaps media focus on research also provides an incentive for government and industry to improve financial support for universities more generally.

At BE, understanding the cultural dimensions and contribution of the design elements forming our physical environment continues to be a significant research theme.

Another theme that is emerging addresses the challenges of developing a more sustainable future from environmental, social and economic perspectives. As urbanisation intensifies, many new social and physical conditions emerge of research interest.

One way BE aims to engage with the global issues and enhance the broad range of ongoing and potential research is by focusing our research activities into clusters around themes. Examples of clusters include:

•    Urban Consolidation;
•    Design History and Theory;
•    Healthy Cities; and
•    Urban IT (or Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Many of these clusters support an interdisciplinary research structure potentially enhancing the scope and potential impact on society.

If the faculty is to cluster its research into themes, what do you think are appropriate themes? 

What does the theme ‘design in research’ mean to you and what might it entail for the faculty?

I encourage all of you to comment and welcome your advice and recommendations. Your input will help us to best organise our programs or whatever) to aid us to develop world-class research material and results on a topic of increasing relevance to our faculty.

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One response

16 06 2010
Dr Tom

Hi Alec,

In your opening paragraph you mention “creative work and design-based research” and yet do list it as a “cluster.” apart from “cluster” being a deeply ugly word, practice based research or “creative work” was once the core activity of the “design research group while Ann Quinlan and I were joint directors.

We were the largest and most active research group in the Faculty, with many industry based designers, art practitioners and others who contributed to that type of work. Our output radically increased FBE’s research output in 2007, much the surprise of UNSW. Since the abandonment of research groups, many of the poeple involved have pursued their practice based research individually and to some extent outside FBE research accounting simply becasue for some years it has not been well received at UNSW despite assurances to the contrary (the layout and form of the current research recording scheme is typical of UNSW’s capacity to grasp the importance of this form of research)

It seems to me that if we are to acknowledge creative practices as research, then there ought to be a “cluster,” perhaps with another name, but a cluster all the same.

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