Curvy modern building with plants

Supporting future built environment research investment

Workshop, London, 2016

This workshop was the first stage of an ARCC-led discussion to engage the research community, research councils and other stakeholders – policymakers and practitioners – in the future of built environment research needs and opportunities in light of the challenges facing society.

The discussions highlighted the importance of a research agenda that encourages discovery of the best possible outcomes in building design and refurbishment, rather than a ‘making do’ approach.

Researchers and stakeholders outlined a vision of the future for built environment research and capabilities. Their thoughts included:

  • changing the way buildings are designed and constructed
  • how they interact with supporting services
  • how they function, are maintained, refurbished and perform to ensure they are fit for purpose into the future.

Buildings must be adaptable to changing needs and climates, and function to meet the needs of a healthy, resilient, and low carbon society.

Workshop participants identified critical areas of research that require inter- and multi-disciplinary research supported by cross-council – and broader – investments to further short-term (to 2020) research in robust and healthy buildings and urban form. The research areas include those focused on:

  • improving and adapting existing stock
  • improving the accuracy of assessment of performance
  • improving our understanding of the interconnections of buildings with supporting services and infrastructure above and below ground, including ecosystem services offered by green and blue infrastructure.

Building capability and channels for knowledge exchange and interdisciplinary working, particularly links between engineering sciences, social science and natural sciences, are crucial to ensure the best return for investment in built environment research. Our report provides an initial analysis and early synthesis of the discussions.