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Research activity at Architecture explores a wide variety of significant research areas within architecture and the built environment. Among these is the better exploitation of innovative construction technologies and ICT to optimise 'total building performance', as well as reduce waste and environmental impact. Sustainable architectural and urban design is an important component of this. To this end, the Cluster for Research in Design and Sustainability (CRiDS) focuses its research energies towards developing resilient responses to the social, environmental and economic challenges associated with urbanism and cities, in both the developed and developing world.

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Towards the development of a space/nature syntax at Arcosanti

Munro, Karen and Grierson, David (2016) Towards the development of a space/nature syntax at Arcosanti. Open House International, 41 (4). pp. 48-55. ISSN 0168-2601

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The world’s urban population is rapidly growing, now exceeding its rural population, and is expected to reach 70% of the world’s total by 2050. Research in environmental psychology increasingly supports the Biophilia Hypothesis which holds that our connection with Nature is innate. Thus, how do we maintain a human connection to Nature in an increasingly urbanising world? The research explores the boundary between built and natural environments, specifically how proximity, initially through visual connections, to Nature affects how people use social spaces. Case study work is being undertaken at Arcosanti urban laboratory in the Arizona desert. Arcosanti construction began in 1970 to test Paolo Soleri’s Arcology Theory , which proposes, in opposition to sprawling cities, a new form of urban setting which is compact with tightly restricted horizontal growth, leaving the surrounding natural environment as undeveloped “wilderness”. Through development of a space/nature syntax methodology applied within a uniquely compact urban form, this research attempts to understand how maintaining an instinctive bond with Nature can enhance social relations and inform future design choices within built environments.