Design and the Environment includes practice-led research in buildings and spaces in the urban and rural environment [Adam, Burford, Hutton, Ingleby, Thurrott]. The recognition of Hutton’s Drummond House (the Shed) with an RIBA Design Award in 2009 was a key impetus to expand research through architectural design. The aim of his research is to develop appropriate contemporary architectural languages for rural and urban environments. Through his portfolio of houses, Hutton has developed a spatial and material language for building in sensitive rural environments, incorporating ideas about landscape, serial production, tradition and invention. With Rattray, Hutton is developing an architectural language for the Dundee waterfront development. Staff in this cluster consult with the Highland Council to develop a planning language for the town of Tornagrain. Hutton’s research is part of a cluster of practice-based outputs that include Ingleby’s urban pavilions which develop a formal language for semi-permanent buildings in social contexts and Purdie’s houses and Cairngorm visitor centre that update Geddesian ideas about man and his relation to the land, also exhibited at the RSA. Purdie and Hutton also contributed to Landworker , a public exhibition/symposium of art and architecture projects in the landscape.
The macromicro studio led by Burford with inputs by Thurrott and Robertson, is focused on architectural design solutions to problems of sustainability. The macromicro studio is grounded in the innovative application of technology to the building industry, a collaborative base between architecture, engineering, and the construction industry, practice-based research methods, and an ethos based on working with manufacturers and suppliers on real buildings. The studio is nearing completion of an off-grid prototype live-work unit at the Dundee Botanical Gardens . This project pioneered a heterogeneous procurement and funding model, based on in-kind funding by construction contractors, building materials suppliers, and environmental equipment manufacturers. We are now expanding this direction in environmental research though external funding into larger aggregates of off-grid units. The macromicro studio is part of a cluster of staff [Adam, Thurrott] who use the design and procurement of houses as vehicles for testing the application of Passivhaus standard (i.e. ultra-low energy) housing in the Scottish landscape context and in the context of UK commercial housing procurement conditions. Thurrott has built work at the Highland Housing Expo. With its concern for energy use in the environment, this research speaks directly to environmental research in Spatial Governance [Gado, Onyango] and Geography.