Established in early 2021, the Architectural Research Group (ARG) provides multidisciplinary research through four diverse research clusters:

  1. (Net) Zero Emission Buildings and Neighbourhoods
  2. Hidden Barriers and Divisive Architecture
  3. Drawing: methodology, making and media
  4. Practise Based Research. Our diverse range of design-led research clusters span design, arts and humanities, social and environmental science, practice and architectural technology.

The new Architectural Research Group (ARG) will be structured around four distinct research clusters which collaborate and align with an associated  vertical (B.Arch/M.Arch) Super-Studios research theme.


  • Develop thought leadership in Net Zero Emission design principles equipping our researchers, educators, students and industrial partners with the knowledge and skills to respond rapidly to the climate crisis through decarbonisation of both new construction and the existing building stock.
  • Encourage innovation, communication, and collaboration in construction and develop new – better ways of working. Through linking academic research with industrial partners and standardised practice.
  • Place people and the importance of culture at the heart of urban design and the role it plays in creating health productive communities. Along with understanding the impactful role it can play in dividing people and places when not incorporated positively.
  • Ensure the creative process and visual communication skills are recognised as an essential part of the design process, how it informs the development of projects and links these with historical and modern needs.
  • Enhance current capabilities around people, practice, methods, and sustainability.
  • Increase our industrial collaborations to bridge the gap between research and industrial practice.


Our research falls into the following main themes:

  • Net Zero Emission Buildings & Neighbourhoods: Tackling the challenge of climate resiliency empowering designers to make decisions that balance climate, holistic sustainable design and community well-being.
  • Hidden Barriers & Divisive Architecture: Understanding the challenges embedded within the human landscape linked between human conflict and everyday spaces.
  • Drawing: Methodology, Making & Media: Focusing on the importance and creative freedom in urban design through drawing as well as mixed media methods for communication and publication.
  • Practice Based Research: Dedicated to the challenge of linking research to industry and supporting industrial adoption in best practice and thought leadership.

In addition, each of the ARG research clusters aligns with the research theme of one of the Vertical SuperStudios (B.Arch/M.Arch) to provide research led teaching.

In this unique, innovative and dynamic environment we focus on team working, collaboration, development of professional and research skills to bridge the gap between research and design.

The Super Studios are an innovative and enhanced research based educational method in which students are exposed to live research being conducted in the diverse ARG clusters.

Our Impact

Due to the diverse nature of the four research clusters, impact from ARG is growing and is wide ranging both in geographic scale, engagement and nature of impact.

Examples of current funded ARG research projects include the Architects Of Change project in collaboration with Belfast City Council, supporting Belfast’s draft Resilience Strategy’s ambition for ‘an inclusive, low-carbon, climate-resilient economy in a generation’, Architects of Change puts students from The Belfast School of Architecture and the Built Environment at the heart of developing and delivering a student led training programme to business leaders across the region.

‘Divided Pasts’ is another example of a research project which seeks to understand how urban design can be used to influence segregation in cities, as well as long term sustainability with funding support from the Arts and Humanities research Council (AHRC).

Our team at ARG hold representative positions in various regional, national, and international committees and members of professional bodies to support positive impact which has enhanced both its national and international standing.

Examples include involvement in leading international research programmes, such as International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy in Buildings and Communities Research Programs EBC (Annex 72 - Assessing Life Cycle Related Environmental Impacts Caused by Buildings); and funded research projects from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

ARG involvement also includes elected councillor of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA), chair of the PLACE committee, membership in Climate Change Committee (RSUA), Involvement in Architects Climate Action Network (ACAN).


We have partnerships range of institutions including:

  • The Research Centre for Zero Emission Neighbourhoods in Smart Cities (ZEN) at The Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU)
  • Nanyang Technical University (NTU) Singapore
  • National University of Singapore (NUS)
  • Florida Institute of Built Environment Research (FIBER) University of Florida
  • Texas A+M
  • University of California UC Berkeley
  • International Energy Research Centre (IERC) Tyndall National Institute Cork

The Post Conflict Architecture research network encompasses researchers at:

  • Ulster University
  • London School of Economics
  • University of the Basque Country
  • Wageningen University & Research Centre
  • New York University
  • Yale Law School
  • UC Irvine
  • NGO Human Rights Watch

About the Architecture Research Group