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Art and Design research clusters

At RIAD we focus on five interconnected clusters of research.

These are driven by themes that are of great value to our society, culture and economy.

Art, Conflict and Society

The Art and Conflict research cluster embraces world-leading research that makes links between specific conflicts and transferrable research outcomes.

Documentation, fieldwork-based research and art practice publication across a variety of media including photography, film and urban design.

  • Landscapes and contested spaces,
  • Art and social cohesion,
  • Art and crisis
  • Art, visual documentation and societal disharmony

Art and Context

Research with Art and Context is concerned with the development of alternative strategies of photographic representation and dissemination, applying conventions of fine art practice to conflict situations


Creative Ecologies

The Creative Ecologies Research Cluster is comprised of academic and research a staff across many disciplines of  art, design and architecture. It has a particular focus on research arising from and about applied creative practices.

Research activity is based both on individual and collective research practice. Research within the Cluster is often material based with drawing as a key research focus, initiative and theme for research workshops and symposia.

The cluster comes together annually for workshops with invited artists to generate research collaboration  with a focus on materials such as paper, clay, fabric, plastics and metals.  The negotiation between digital, material and the traditional positions of practice is examined.

Research outputs range from conferences and journal contributions, exhibitions both individual and group based with cluster members active within several U.K. and EU Research grants. The cluster is also active in grant writing and training activities.

The creative ecology includes research of working practices.  Creative industries account for a higher proportion of employment in Ulster than in the rest of the UK, and the field is characterized as solo practitioners and SME.

This cluster investigates design management, creative industries alongside research that arises directly from discipline or material considerations.

  • Creative industries
  • Ecologies of production
  • Cultural and creative industries
  • Design management

Space and Place

Researchers in this cluster share a design focus manifest in architecture, landscape, interior and product design that is underpinned by consideration of place. A strand of research considers specificity of place including historical, geographic and cultural identity.

  • Interactions of structure
  • Environment and site responsiveness
  • Sustainable and environmental
  • Site, narrative and story telling
  • Cultural memory and vernacular
  • Landscape

Future and Virtual Worlds

Future and Virtual Worlds research includes physical products (hardware), technical ‘future’ designing, digital outcomes and philosophical or policy work. World leading Animation research and practice has influenced the development of this field of practice as a regional strength.

  • Technology, tradition and innovation
  • Product attributes and people behaviour,
  • Innovation and Industry
  • Animation