ESA is a joint research endeavour between the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of Edinburgh and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, Heriot-Watt University.

We engage collaboratively with questions of architecture, planning and the city at multiple scales and in a range of innovative ways. Our work is recognised internationally and engages with diverse audiences – from academia to industry.

The ESA brings together researchers from the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. It is built on interdisciplinarity and on maximising the benefits gained from working at a range of scales and approaches regarding the built environment and the urban. It enables complementary as well as collaborative research by incorporating under one umbrella a diversity of innovative research approaches and fields that are vital for understanding and transforming our built and natural environment.

We explore processes, places and spaces over the whole life cycle, from planning to design, construction and usage. Together, we investigate the social, economic and political forces and processes which shape our world and the impact that our built and natural environments have on our health, wellbeing and resilience, our ability to understand our past and to plan our sustainable futures.

For REF2014, the two institutions prepared a first joint submission, which is the point of departure for REF2021. The 2014 submission was second in the UK for research power.

The ESA has a joint Research Committee to foster excellence in research and support a range of techniques and approaches to enquiry. In 2019, we inaugurated a joint ‘research space’ in central Edinburgh, suitable for meetings, retreats and events. We have strategy-formulating away days and focused meetings for the early exchange of information on particular research themes. We engage collaboratively with external partners.

We are dedicated to developing the talent of postgraduate research students and early career researchers. Opportunities range from working on large, multi-institutional, Research Council-funded studies to taking a leading role on our funded Kick Start projects.

See research projects in our annual ESA Research Booklets

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