Our Research

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Creative Systems and Robotics

Research on creative systems in the Design Lab includes the development and evaluation of computational models of individual and social creativity. Computational models of individual creativity involve an agent and some environment that the agent can change; design is fundamentally about how an agent changes their environment. The aim of these models of social creativity is to provide frameworks for investigating the nature of creativity without the additional complexities inherent in human societies. Research in this stream includes the exploration of social robotics with a focus on the interaction between humans and social robots.

Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Weir, S., Fernando, S., Saunders, R. (2015). Surveying Stereotomy. Architecture Research Centre Consortium (ARCC) Conference, Chicago: Architecture Research Centre Consortium (ARCC).
  • Bown, O., Gemeinboeck, P., Saunders, R. (2014). The Machine as Autonomous Performer. In Linda Candy, Sam Ferguson (Eds.), Interactive Experience in the Digital Age: Evaluating New Art Practice, (pp. 75-90). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.
  • Saunders, R., Chee, E., Gemeinboeck, P. (2013). Evaluating Human-Robot Interaction with Embodied Creative Systems. Fourth International Conference on Computational Creativity ICCC 2013, Sydney, Australia: University of Sydney.
  • Grace, K., Gero, J., Saunders, R. (2012). Representational Affordances and Creativity in Association-based Systems. Third International Conference on Computational Creativity ICCC 2012, Dublin, Ireland: University College Dublin.

Data Analytics and Visualisation

Research in this stream focuses on two areas: using data analytics to drive design and design decisions, and the human-centric, aesthetic visualisation of digital information. These areas are applied across a range of application areas and scales, from urban planning to health informatics, and from online visualisation tools to large-scale dashboard visualisations.

Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Gough, P., de Berigny Wall, C., Bednarz, T. (2014). Affective and Effective Visualisation: Communicating Science to Non-expert Users. IEEE PacifcVis 2014, Yokohama, Japan: IEEE.
  • Sarkar, S. (2013). Street network analysis for understanding typology in cities: Case study on Sydney CBD and suburbs. 6th State of Australian Cities Conference | SOAC 2013, Sydney: State of Australian Cities Research Network.
  • Vande Moere, A., Tomitsch, M., Wimmer, C., Boesch, C., Grechenig, T. (2012). Evaluating the Effect of Style in Information Visualization. IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, 18(12), 2739-2748.
  • Vande Moere, A., Tomitsch, M., Hoinkis, M., Trefz, E., Johansen, S., Jones, A. (2011). Comparative feedback in the street: Exposing residential energy consumption on house facades. 13th IFIP TC 13 International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, INTERACT 2011, Heidelberg, Germany: Springer.
  • Leung, M., Tomitsch, M., Vande Moere, A. (2011). Designing a personal visualization projection of online social identity. ACM 29th International on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2011), Vancouver, Canada: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Designing for Health and Wellbeing

Research on health and wellbeing in the Design Lab combines design-led research practice with creative technologies to investigate how computing technologies can help to support healthy living and life styles in home environments, at work, and in cities.

Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Loke, L., Nunez-Pacheco, C. (2015). Aesthetic Resources for Technology-mediated Self-reflection: The Case of Eloquent Robes. The 26th Australian Computer-Human Interaction Conference on Designing Futures: the Future of Design (OzCHI 2014), New York, NY: ACM Digital Library.
  • Wall C., Felah, M., Zinovieff, F. (2014). Mindfulness, Media Façades: Augmenting Urban Locations through Interaction, 20th International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
  • Feltham, F., Loke, L., van den Hoven, E., Hannam, J., Bongers, B. (2014). The Slow Floor: Increasing creative agency while walking on an interactive surface. TEI '14, 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, New York, USA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Media Architecture and Smart Cities

The Design Lab’s research on media architecture focuses on design issues, technological challenges and social aspects around the integration of digital technologies into the urban space. It uses a research-through-design approach to conceptualise, develop, and evaluate interventions that link digital and physical spaces with the aim to improve urban liveability. This research stream includes the investigation of design-led approaches to smart city solutions, that focus on empowering citizens and civic leaders through targeted interventions.

Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Tomitsch, M., McArthur, I., Haeusler, M.H., Foth, M. (2016, in press). The Social-Cultural Role of Public Screens in Urban Life. In: Foth, M., Brynskov, M., & Ojala, T. (Eds.), Citizen’s Right to the Digital City: Urban Interfaces, Activism, and Placemaking. Singapore: Springer. ISBN 978-981-287-919-6.
  • Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M. (2015). Strategies for Intuitive Interaction in Public Urban Spaces. In: Interacting with Computers, Oxford University Press.
  • Hespanhol, L., Tomitsch, M., McArthur, I., Fredericks, J., Schroeter, R., Foth, M. (2015). Vote As You Go: Blending Interfaces For Community Engagement Into The Urban Space. In Proceedings of the 7th International ACM Conference on Communities and Technologies (C&T’15), ACM.
  • Tomitsch, M. (2014). Towards the real-time city: An investigation of public displays for behaviour change and sustainable living. In Proceedings of the 7th Making Cities Liveable Conference, PANDORA Archive, National Library of Australia.

Performance, Body and Technology

Research in this stream focuses on the development of methods for working with the creative potential of the moving body, drawn from movement improvisation, dance and somatic practices, which can be appropriated by designers. This includes research on wearable technologies across a range of application areas, including physical activity and health.

Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Nunez Pacheco, C., Loke, L. (2014). Crafting the Body-Tool: A Body-centred Perspective on Wearable Technology Design. DIS '14: Designing Interactive Systems Conference, ACM, NYC, New York, USA: The Association for Computing Machinery.
  • Loke, L., Robertson, T. (2013). Moving and Making Strange: An Embodied Approach to Movement-based Interaction Design. ACM Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 20(11), 7:1-7:25.
  • Loke, L., Robertson, T. (2010). Studies of Dancers: Moving from Experience to Interaction Design. International Journal of Design, 4(2), 1-16.
  • Loke, L., Robertson, T. (2009). Design representations of moving bodies for interactive, motion-sensing spaces. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 67(4), 394-410.

Urban Data Science

The Design Lab’s research on urban data science is pushing the interface between traditional urban studies, economics, design, and planning and new multi-disciplinary regimes brought in by research in complex systems, sensor technologies, network science, physics, machine learning and data science. This includes research on city science and urban computing, and the application of novel data mining and computational methods for solving problems in urban design and planning research. Research in this stream especially focuses on the social and economic dynamics of housing and transportation in the city.


Examples of publications in this area include:

  • Sarkar, S., 2015, Spectral (re)construction of urban street networks: Generative design using global information from structure, Design Computing and Cognition ‘14, Springer, pp. 41-55.
  • Chawla, S., Sarkar, S. et. al., 2015, On Inferring the Time-Varying Traffic Connectivity Structures of an Urban Environment ACM KDD Urban Computing Workshop, UrbComp2015
  • Sarkar, S. and Dong, A., 2011, Community detection in graphs using singular value decomposition, Physical Review E 83(4), 046114.