Our research

ESALA research is conducted at the highest level across a broad spread of disciplines, all related to the core subjects of architecture, architectural history and landscape architecture.

We have notable strengths in architectural and engineering design, digital design, architectural theory, history and conservation, and design for community health. 

Our Research Alliance with the school of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society (EGIS) at Heriot-Watt University expands our expertise base to over 60 researchers. 

This allows us to address the full range of opportunities and challenges offered by the built and natural environments, including in areas such as construction technology, project management, housing, urban sustainability and social inclusion.

Our approach to research

In its research methodologies and practice ESALA is both diverse and expansive, with a spectrum that extends from large, team-based and well-funded research projects to individual, scholarly research. Within this diversity, current research clusters around six expansive themes:

  • Innovative design in architecture and landscape architecture, with a particular focus on issues revolving representation.
  • Hybrid design processes and digital media, investigating the spatial, social and conceptual implications of digital media.
  • Health and environment, addressing the relationship between the built and natural environment.
  • Global cities and European spatial planning, addressing the global problems of city regions and rural-urban interfaces.
  • Cultural studies, investigating the city as site of cultural production and contestation; of memory and forgetting; of identity and representation.
  • Architectural theory, history and conservation, focusing on: the architecture of Scotland, Renaissance Italy, imperial and post-imperial Britain, Central Europe, and Russia; conservation technology; and international modernism, mass housing and heritage.

Architecture is instinctively attuned to interdisciplinarity, and ESALA researchers collaborate with colleagues from many fields and disciplines in the visual arts and humanities, civil engineering, geography, political science, psychology, informatics, and public health.

ESALA supports a professional research office; a projects office that promotes design-led research, outreach and innovation; and the Edinburgh Knowledge Exchange Partnership (EKEP), which links ESALA’s research to partners in local and national government, NGOs, service providers, not-for-profit organisations and industry.

The significance of our research

ESALA research makes a powerful impact locally, nationally, and internationally. It promotes inclusive societies with improved access to housing, social environments and public space; innovative societies, taking advantage of new materials, media and digital technologies; and responsible societies, with a heightened awareness of our social obligations and cultural heritage. In parallel to societal impact, some of ESALA’s research output analyses, critiques and effects disciplinary issues within the national and international disciplines of architecture and landscape architecture. ESALA’s research environment has been highly commended by the 2014 Research Excellence Framework panel as ‘conductive to producing research of internationally excellent and world-leading quality’.

Society of Architectural Historians 2017 Conference

SAH logo

ESALA is a formal partner of the 2017 Society of Architectural Historians Conference, to be held in Glasgow in June.