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University of Melbourne, Faculty of Architecture & Building and Planning

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The University of Melbourne enjoys a strong global reputation for high quality research and research training.  It regularly rates highly in international rankings across all major discipline areas. The Faculty of Architecture, Building & Planning (ABP) maintains an international reputation for excellence in research and research training in built environment disciplines. ABP undertakes fundamental research into the built environment in Australia and the Asian region, and actively engages in partnerships locally and globally to produce research that responds to major social, economic and environmental challenges of national and international importance. Our established geographic expertise spans Australia, South East Asia, China and the Pacific, with growing expertise in Europe.


Through ABP’s graduate school, the Melbourne School of Design (MSD), we provide opportunities for students to undertake advanced research and to become well-rounded professionals, critical thinkers and future research leaders. The interdisciplinary experience offered in the MSD produces graduates who actively contribute to the future development of cities and regions across the globe. Our graduates become leaders of industry and academia, informing public policy and professional discourse.


Our PhD and MPhil students have access to innovative professional development programs and excellent facilities and resources. All full-time graduate researchers are provided with a work space and computer. A dedicated graduate researcher lounge where graduate researchers can meet, eat and talk with colleagues provides a break from study. Workshops and advanced seminars in research theories and methods specifically tailored to built environment researchers are offered each year, designed to build on previous learning and to support students at each stage of their research.  Students can participate in thesis writing

programs to improve their written communication. Weekly research seminars and an annual research day enable staff and students to present and discuss their ideas, and regular public lectures throughout the year feature international guest speakers as well as leading local practitioners.


Working across our six major disciplines of architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, urban design, property (real estate) and construction, our research focuses on the following themes:


Cities and Urban Environments, including urban character and use of space in cities; the heritage of the urban environment; and the effect of housing and transport planning policies on urban development. 


Community Infrastructures, including designing and analysing community amenities such as schools and other learning spaces, hospitals, courts and municipal services. 


Vulnerable Environments, including designing safe and healthy environments; designing and planning for the participation of children, the homeless, migrants and indigenous communities; mitigation against climate change and natural disasters; developing environmentally aware fabrication techniques; sustainable systems for a low-carbon future; and understanding informal settlements.


Design, Theory and Practice in the Global Environment, including developing new methods and technologies for design, fabrication and construction; assessing the impact of digital technologies on design practice and management; and responding to cross-cultural issues in managing global practice.


These core themes and our long-term research priorities align well with the AUSMIP+ main research issues and we welcome applications from AUSMIP+ partners whose work contributes to research in these areas to visit us to engage in further research, collaboration and professional development, to share and develop their work, and to contribute to teaching.


ABP is committed to encouraging the exchange of ideas and we have been fortunate to welcome a number of distinguished scholars in the past. The AUSMIP+ program will greatly enhance this collaboration with researchers in architecture and urban planning from Europe and from our other Asian partners and will be a major contribution to furthering the exchange of knowledge and expertise between the EU and Australia.


The learning experience at ABP is characterized by research-led teaching; the deep attainment of disciplinary knowledge at undergraduate, graduate and research higher degree levels; and the breadth of variety offered through our six programs. Learning is recognized as a process that occurs through experience, understanding and testing. Students are expected to be active participants in their learning. The University's commitment to these concepts is outlined in nine main principles;

  1. An atmosphere of intellectual excitement
  2. An intensive research and knowledge transfer culture permeating all teaching and learning activities
  3. A vibrant and embracing social context
  4. An international and culturally diverse learning environment
  5. Explicit concern and support for individual development
  6. Clear academic expectations and standards
  7. Learning cycles of experimentation, feedback and assessment
  8. Premium quality learning spaces, resources and technologies
  9. An adaptive curriculum


ABP strives to develop curriculum for teaching and learning that is deliberately informed by the other key activities of research and professional engagement.


ABP researchers have enjoyed considerable success in winning external funding to support their work. Current projects are supported by grants from the Australian Research Council and from government, cultural, industry and community organizations. 


Some of our research centres and groups are outlined below.


GAMUT: the Australasian Centre for the Governance and Management of Urban Transport.

Funded by the Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) and the University of Melbourne since 2006, GAMUT is a collaborative research centre dedicated to promoting and supporting sustainable urban transport in Australia and the Asia Pacific region. The centre works with a network of researchers to focus attention on the need for innovative institutional design for integrated transport systems. The GAMUT vision is one of seamless public transport networks even for dispersed urban areas, a reduced role for the private car for routine city trips, greatly improved facilities for walking and cycling, and integration of land use and transport planning.


VEIL: the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab

VEIL seeks to identify and promote emerging technical and social innovations for future sustainable systems as a response to the critical challenge of our times: the urgent need for fundamental social, technical and structural change to bring about a low-carbon economy. VEIL operates on a model similar to an innovation-led design company, but in the public arena. With public funding, research grants and donations, VEIL works to envisage future concepts and prototypes for goods, services, built infrastructure, systems and lifestyles for a sustainable Melbourne in 25 years.


AURIN, The Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network

Funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research Education Investment Fund 2010–2014, the aim of AURIN is to provide Australia's urban researchers, designers and planners with a research infrastructure that facilitates on-line access to a distributed network of aggregated datasets and information services. The AURIN infrastructure will develop the national capacity to support both on-going data collection for urban research and the development of on-line access to tools to integrate, analyse, model and visualise datasets relating to the natural, built, economic, social and cultural elements of urban places across the national settlement system and, in particular, for Australia's major cities. This will assist improved design and management of our cities, by linking the physical and social aspects of the built environment.


CRIDA: Critical Research In Digital Architecture

The CRIDA research group engages in digital research and teaching projects as vehicles for critical inquiry and development of innovative design practices at various scales supported by digital media in architecture, urban design, landscape and environmental design. CRIDA is interested in development of digital technologies, their cultural implications and emerging design futures.  Current areas of research interest include: design representation; hybrid spatial-digital environments; virtual heritage; immersive information spaces; generative design methods; and augmented reality.


LEaRN: Learning Environments Applied Research Network

The Learning Environments Applied Research Network brings together Australian and international educational bodies, designers, government agencies and professional groups to foster research into the relationship between pedagogy and space in all educational environments.  In particular, LEaRN explores the impact of information technology, student-centered learning and the demand for sustainable buildings on educational design and teaching practices. The LEaRN Network allows designers, teachers and facility providers access to evidence-based research to inform their decisions.  Our research allows teachers to develop a degree of spatial literacy to discuss how space impacts on learning and pedagogical practice.


University of Melbourne, Faculty of Architecture & Building and Planning,

Local coordinator:  

Professor Julie Willis

Assoc. Dean (Research)


            ABP Research Office


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