Areas of research interest

Architectural Theory and History

The Architectural Theory and History Research Group at the University of Sydney advances scholarship in the architectural humanities. With strength in the architectural uptake of continental philosophy, studies in the architectural consequences of postmodern culture, and in the agency of historical knowledge in architecture, the Group provides a platform for the work of approximately fifty academic staff and PhD students.

Each of the Group's four units maintain a programme of seminars, workshops and other opportunities for discussion and research training. These units focus on architectural theory, Asian architecture and urbanism, civic and sacred modernism, and postmodern culture. All events are open to members of the University community and to members of the general public.

For further information contact Professor Andrew Leach () or any member of the research group.

Architectural Design
Architectural computing and digital media
  • digital architecture
  • generative architectural design
  • parametric modelling
  • digital design generation
  • building information management
  • architectural animation.
Advanced Manufacturing and Prefabrication - Innovation in Applied Design

The Innovation in Applied Design Lab (IAD Lab) is a collaborative cross-disciplinary research Laboratory within The Sydney School of Architecture, Planning and Design.

The IAD Lab's strategic focus on "applied design" is broadly conceived to include a wide range of R&D projects and problems spanning a range of scales and disciplines involved in the design, study and construction of the built environment. The IAD Lab provides a hub for researchers within the school, and creates opportunities for its Industry Partners to build Research and Development capacity.

For further information contact Associate Professor Mathew Aitchison () or any member of the research group.

Architectural and Building Science and Technologies

The Architectural and Building Science and Technologies research group seeks to understand and manage the phenomena affecting building performance, and also the effects of buildings on external and internal environments, and their occupants. Our research activities are organised into three labs: Indoor Environmental Quality, Spacial Audio and Acoustics Lab, and the Lighting Lab.

Architectural science research undertaken in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning is world class. We combine cutting edge research infrastructure, a critical mass of world-leading research personnel, and research environment conductive to the development of creative solutions for the significant research challenges facing the built environment.

It is possible to undertake some advanced coursework within higher degree research programs.

For further information contact Professor Richard de Dear () or any member of the research group.

Areas of research

Indoor Environmental Quality Lab

The mission of the IEQ Lab is to quantify and improve the quality of internal environments in buildings where we spend over 90%of our day-to-day lives. The lab applies rigorous scientific methods to identify and quantify the impacts of indoor environments on comfort, health, wellbeing and productivity of their occupants. From that analysis comes occupant-centred, evidence-based design guidance that is relevant to both the design-stage and operational-phase of a building's life-cycle.

  • Adaptive thermal comfort
  • Climate chamber and field studies of thermal comfort
  • Non-steady-state thermal comfort and alliesthesia
  • Indoor air quality and ventilation rates
  • interactions between IEQ elements of thermal, lighting, acoustics and indoor air quality
  • Building rating tools for IEQ
  • Post occupancy evaluation of built environments by their occupants
  • Impacts of IEQ on productivity and performance
Spatial Audio and Acoustics Lab

The Spatial Audio and Acoustics Laboratories in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney support research and teaching concerned with sound in the built environment. They are among Australia's most capable research facilities for acoustics and audio.

Acoustics is one of the main contributors to the quality of the built environment, but poses many challenges because sound cannot be seen and it behaves in complex ways. It has a profound effect on human communication, comfort, productivity and enjoyment. audio systems are a part of almost every building, and play a substantial role in supporting human activity. The Spatial Audio and Acoustics Labs provide a context for advanced research on problems of acoustics and audio applications, contributing to improving the sound environment in which we live.

  • Room acoustics
  • Psychoacoustics, including loudness and spatial hearing
  • Audio reproduction quality and signal processing
  • Simulation and auralisation of acoustical environments
  • Acoustic aspects of Indoor Environmental Quality
  • Advanced measurement techniques
  • Auditory display and sonification.
Lighting Lab

The lighting research program at the University of Sydney concentrates on forward-looking applications of light, to provide leading ideas on how the characteristics of future technologies can be leveraged to maximize benefit to human users of light. The researchers in the lab question the status quo of lighting design practice to develop innovative, sometimes fundamentally new, ways of using lighting in architectural spaces. Experiments investigate the impacts of these applications on both the experience of human users of architecture and energy consumption.

A variety of projects revolve around three research focus areas: the spectrum of illumination, the spatial distribution of light, and user control of lighting.

  • Applications of emerging and next-generation lighting technologies
  • Visual perception, particularly colour vision
  • Novel light source spectra for improved efficacy
  • Colorimetry and development of colour standards
  • Innovative modes of lighting control and human interaction.
Sustainable design
  • Cultural sustainability through integration of architectural science, archeological and heritage conservation knowledge
  • Form and space making potential of sustainable design
  • History of climatic design in Australia
  • Simulation of building environmental performance
  • Comfort analysis of urban outdoor and semi-outdoor microclimates
  • Building integration of renewable energy sources.

Design Lab

The Design Lab is committed to interdisciplinary, design-led research that leads to improved interactions and experiences through and with digital technology.

Research in the Design Lab focuses on three core aspects of design: the process and theory of human-centred design; the design of innovative solutions; and the use of digital products.

Research projects in the Design Lab span the two broad areas of interaction design and creative technologies. These areas are combined and extended through collaborations across and beyond the Design Lab into more specialised research areas including design thinking, experience design, interactive media, media architecture, urban informatics, urban data design, human-robot interaction, computational creativity, and wearable technology. The members of the Design Lab apply their research to a diverse range of applications including architecture, urban and regional planning, transport, healthcare, education, and the creative industries.

The Design Lab provides the environmental and resources to facilitate collaborations with industry and communities, providing opportunities for enhancing current practice, environments, and systems through design.

For further information contact Associate Professor Martin Tomitsch () or any member of the discipline.

Areas of research

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.

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.

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.

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

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 applications areas, including physical activity and health.

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.


Urban and regional planning research has been established in the school since the late 1940s, covering a wide range of subject areas, including international studies with a focus on Southeast Asia and the Pacific; metropolitan planning; housing studies; regional policy and many other fields of policy and development. A recently established urban design program provides additional opportunities to conduct research into the design dimensions of urban form. The School is also home to the Cities Network and Urban Housing Lab, and has strong links with the Festival of Urbanism, Henry Halloran Trust

For further information contact Professor Nicole Gurran () or any member of the research group.

Areas of research

  • urban planning and regional comparative planning systems
  • collaborative environmental planning and management
  • planning for environmental sustainability
  • planning for housing accessibility, diversity and affordability
  • coastal protection and growth
  • informal urbanism
  • social and environmental justice
  • community forestry
  • political ecology
  • natural resource management
  • sustainable development and climate change
  • urban policy and planning locally and internationally
  • suburban economic development
  • poverty and inequality
  • rural communities
  • community development and sustainable planning
  • urban planning research and education
  • gated communities
  • tourism development in Pacific urban planning
  • development aid policy
  • environmental impact assessments
  • housing policy in developing countries
  • Indigenous settlement and land tenure issues
  • geographic information systems
  • economic development
  • planning support systems
  • visualisation
  • commuting behaviour
  • spatial decision making.