Job title: Senior Lecturer

Tel: +44 (0)131 651 4246


Office address: Minto House, Maltings, Room 4.10

Research outputs: Dr Lisa Moffitt on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Lisa’s research, practice, and teaching expertise lies at the intersection of environmental design and architectural representation. Her work focuses on how natural processes give shape to and are shaped by the built environment and by the methods designers use to engage with these processes both at scale in the studio as well as through immersion on site. 

Lisa has developed a portfolio of speculative and built design projects in independent practice at Studio Moffitt. Her most extensive project, the House on Limekiln Line, has been widely published online and in print including Dwell Magazine, ArchDaily, and Dezeen. Lisa co-founded, with Liam Ross, ESALA Projects, a design consultancy for research-lead design projects that involve student collaboration. Her practice now often involves collaboration with students through ESALA Projects.  From 2005-2008, she was a senior designer at PLANT Architect, Inc., an architecture and landscape architecture practice in Toronto, Canada, where she was on the first-place competition teams for the Dublin Veterans' Grounds of Remembrance, the Toronto City Hall Redevelopment Project, and Stratford Town Square. 

Lisa’s work is prompted by a deep compulsion to make things...paintings, photographs, built projects, site installations, speculative design projects, physical models, environmental instruments, material studies...that question how architecture materially alters, impacts, and constructs new environments. These makings, whether they are site installations or speculative design projects or instruments that register environmental conditions, are often paired with teaching or written research, enabling productive exchanges between the two.

Lisa’s teaching bridges two disciplinary domains—environmental design and architectural representation—and operates methodologically at two scales—at scale in the studio and full-scale on site. Both scales of working entail making primarily fluid environmental processes visible and materially tangible, allowing them to play an active role as a design generator. This approach raises productive questions in the studio such as: how might buildings be understood as environmental instruments? How would an architecture of ballasts, baffles, funnels, and reservoirs operate? How do we design buildings of differentials, turbulence, control, or stasis?

Lisa’s teaching operates across landscape and building scales, framing landscapes as active registrars of environmental processes and buildings as passive buffers of those same processes. The expertise of working across disciplines was honed professionally through work as a senior designer at PLANT Architect, Inc. in Toronto, Ontario where she participated in several competition-winning architecture/landscape architecture hybrid projects, including the revitalization of Toronto City Hall.

Lisa has taught design studios across undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Most recently, Lisa taught a one year MArch studio titled, The Streamlines, Vortices & Plumes of the Blue Lagoon and Bath. In this studio, students designed environmental instruments as a means to design environmentally-responsive ‘post-carbon’ buildings in two sites of thermal asymmetry: the Blue Lagoon, Iceland and Bath, UK.  She was previously course organiser of Architectural Design 3: Explorations and MSc Advanced Sustainable Design Project. She also contributes teaching to the MSc Advanced Sustainable Design Dissertation, and Technology and Environment 2a: Building Environment.

Lisa’s design research takes two primary forms. First, the development of instruments such as wind tunnels, water tables, and filling tanks, which materialise environmental processes for use as forensic tools to explore modes of architectural environmental mediation across body, building, and planetary scales. Second, design of speculative  and built work that instrumentalise existing material and environmental conditions to design “thick” contextual projects.

Lisa’s written research, which culminated in a recently completed PhD by Design (2019), places contemporary sustainable design concerns within a broader historic context, by reflecting on the makings of others. For example, Etienne-Jules Marey’s wind tunnels, Victor and Aladar Olgyay’s thermoheliodon, and David Boswell Reid’s convection experiments, have acted as prompts for reflection on contemporary concerns related to building climate control and methods of environmental simulation and visualisation. Much of this research incorporates original design work.  

Lisa is currently researching a series of built case study projects of environmental consequence and developing representational techniques for making their technical and theoretical workings visually evident. 

Selected Publications
2019 “Victor and Aladar Olgyay’s Thermoheliodon: Controlling Climate to Reduce Climate Control,” arq (Architectural Research Quarterly).

2019 “Materialising Convection,” Architecture and Culture Magazine.

2018 “Lines over Time: Environmental Models as Architectural Design Tools,” Technology | Architecture + Design (TAD) Journal. 

2017 “Sand, Silt, Salt, Water: Entropy as a Lens for Design in Postindustrial Landscapes,” Landscape Research, vol 42, issue 7, pp. 769-781.

Current PhD students

  • How can new pedagogic approaches in architectural and interior design education encourage espistemological advances in daylighting design?

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

  • Environmental design
  • Representation
  • Models
  • Passive design
  • Designing for climate uncertainty