MSA has developed a strong research presence, which is underpinned by the diverse range of work produced in our ateliers. Both research and studio practice are interwoven in their practical and applied engagement with the built environment. We work in various groups and partnerships, with each other and with external agencies. Our research groups fall broadly into three thematic areas: Built Heritage, Urban Futures and Citizen Engagement.

These themes capture the breadth of research produced collaboratively and by individuals. We often conduct research that crosses these themes and are frequently allied to more than one area. Under these headers we are able to describe the major successes and the measurable impact of our work to society. The School is has strong links to practice and is connected to the city, region and world with over 150 external partners. Our key strength is in applied research and its relationship to the realities of contemporary architecture and urbanism.

Built Heritage

Under this banner there is a truly diverse range of research, covering a broad temporal frame and wide geographic range. We’re interested in all forms of architectural history, its western canon and its changing appreciation in a globalised world

We have published works related to building re-use and adaptation. We’ve won prizes for our work on the history of public parks. We have used our expertise to successfully protect buildings through the listing system. We’re working on AHRC funded projects to digitally document spaces that will be demolished for new development. We’ve established a group in receipt of Paul Mellon funds to look at post-war infrastructure and have been awarded monies to continue our project which seeks to preserve the Wittgenstein ‘hut’ in Norway. We have organised international symposia on the histories of architects’ homes. We have published and exhibited work that investigates alternate histories of modernism, and the circulation of modernist ideas around non-Western networks of influence and exchange. We have funded projects and fellowships working in, on and with architectural archives. We have published work on the histories of architectural Expositions, joined juries and helped curate international biennale. We continue to research the role, histories and operation of various architectural media, including magazines, architectural writing, drawings, television, and exhibitions.

Urban Futures

It is impossible to consider architecture without thinking about what comes next and our research in this area examines smart cities, material technologies, new forms of fabrication and the way in which society and technology co-exist.

We’re researching autonomous transport networks, smart objects and the Internet of Things. Using virtual and mixed reality we’ve brought digital artefacts into the public domain. We’ve hosted seminars and debates with key stakeholders in the region to affect future policy. Working across the UK in areas of low population density we’ve examined how satellite technology can aid health and social care provision. We’ve authored local plans that help smaller communities to control the spatial development of their towns and we’ve made large scale knitted objects! Further afield, we have researched urbanisation projects in China, to understand more about their central developments and the urban borderlands they involve. We’re researching the role of temporary and festival spaces in urban areas, both in the UK, Europe and the Far East.

Citizen Engagement

Architecture involves people. We engage the city and its population in myriad ways, from community consultation through to interactive brainwave controlled performance. We act as consultants and an interface between councils and their local stakeholders and influence the design and feel of the city.

We have influenced policy regionally and globally concerning age-friendly cities. Our work is cited by the World Health Organisation. We have developed new networks of social and medical care using our expertise in spatial planning. This digital infrastructure has in turn created new inclusive places that are helping to transform communities. We've invited the public to change environments using sensors attached to their bodies. We’re working on collaborative projects with healthcare professionals and hospital designers to understand how architecture plays a role in improving patient recovery. We continue to work with community groups in the UK and South America to link understanding of social movements with the politics of construction, and to facilitate projects with and for these communities. We have been continuing our ethnographic work on the interfaces between architectural practices, consultants and stakeholders, and on the internal processes that occur within architectural practice.