Built Environment research is about cities, people, places, property, buildings, design, infrastructure, environment, landscapes, institutions, and the complex interactions between them.

It addresses a spectrum of vital policy and theoretical issues across a range of scales from different disciplinary perspectives examining Australian and international problems. Our overall mission statement is geared towards designing, delivering and managing sustainable 21st century cities and all their critical elements.

The faculty offers a collegiate and supportive research environment facilitating high quality and innovative research by both staff and students.


ARC Grant Outcomes

2016     2015     2014    2013     2012

(Hosted by the Faculty of Built Environment, UNSW, unless otherwise stated. BE staff in bold.)



Bridge, A; Skitmore, R; Duffield, C; Newton, S; Hughes, H; Zhang, L; Loosemore, M; Franz, J; Verhoeven, P
Project Title: Develop a Whole-of-life Procurement Decision-making Framework
Linkage Project: $391,000 (Hosted by Queensland University of Technology)
Partner Organisations: Infrastructure Australia; NSW Treasury; Department of Treasury and Finance Victoria; Department of Finance; ACT Education & Training Directorate Departmental; Department of Education; Department of Education and Training; Department for Education and Child Development; Bickerton Masters Architecture Pty Ltd; Christie Creative Solutions; Capella Capital Pty Limited; GRC Quantity Surveyors; Lend Lease Constructions Australia Holdings Pty Limited; Lidunian Partners Pty Limited; Spotless Facility Services Pty Ltd

This project aims to develop a whole-of-life procurement decision-making framework so schools can make delivering better education more cost effective. This framework—which draws on state-of-the-art and Nobel prize-winning theories and a new theory the project will develop—will be used in government and private schools. The effectiveness of this framework in improving schools will be shown using a new approach to make school facilities deliver educational outcomes and account for their total production and transaction costs. This research is expected to deliver more efficient ways to future-proof schools to create a well performing school system and more resilient infrastructure vital to Australia’s future prosperity.

Baker, E; Beer, A; Zillante, G; London, K; Bentley, R; Hulse, K; Pawson, H; Randolph, B; Ridley, I; Stone, W
Project Title: The Design, Collection and Distribution of an Australian Housing Condition Survey
Linkage, Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant: $190,000  (Hosted by the University of Adelaide)

An Australian housing condition data infrastructure: This project aims to develop, collect, and make available an Australian housing conditions data infrastructure. We don't know enough about the condition of Australia’s housing. In the nearly two decades since the last Australian Housing Survey, there have been significant changes in the housing system, and there researchers and policy makers are calling for a systematic, reliable and nationally representative dataset of housing conditions. The infrastructure would provide Australia's a foundation for evidence-informed research on Australia's housing conditions. The data infrastructure would provide tools, data and protocols for Australian researchers and policy makers, and would be an accessible resource that can be built upon, adapted and applied to population groups and locations of interest.

Rajabifard, A; Stimson, R; Randolph, B; Pettit, C; Hunter, J; Corcoran, J; Biermann, S; Tanton, R; Norman, B; Perez, P; Soltanieh, Saeid MK; Denagamage, Rohan CW
Project Title: Urban Analytics Data Infrastructure
Linkage, Infratructure, Equipment and Facilities Grant: $805,000 (Hosted by the University of Melbourne)

Urban analytics data infrastructure: This project aims to develop an urban analytics data infrastructure that builds on the Australian Urban Research Infrastructure Network. This digital data infrastructure intends to enable the integration, harmonisation, connectivity and scalability of multi-source urban datasets. This infrastructure is required to underpin the next generation of data-driven modelling and decision-support tools to enable the design of smart, productive and resilient cities. These capabilities are predicated on the adoption of ISO standards, development of new ontological frameworks and an urban data dictionary to enable semantic inferencing of datasets and the development of data structures and services. This framework would then be applied to data relevant to people, land and urban infrastructure to support comparative and multi-dimensional analytics.

Saniga, A; Goad, P; Lewi, H; Freestone, R; Garnaut, C; Holden, S; Logan, C
Project Title: Campus: Building modern Australian universities
Discovery Project: $302,627 (Hosted by The University of Melbourne)

This project plans to examine the post-World War Two evolution of the Australian university campus. Modern campuses created opportunities for the realisation of innovative solutions in urban planning, architecture and landscape. The project plans to reveal the physical impacts of political, institutional, social and cultural demands through comparative thematic investigation, digital visualisation and detailed case studies. Foregrounding landscape and site, the project aims to establish new historical knowledge, identify campuses as catalysts for urban thinking, and demonstrate strategies for their conservation and adaptation to meet future needs in the tertiary sector.


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Freestone, Prof Robert; Hu, Dr Richard Y; Davison, Dr Gethin T
Project title: Designing Global Sydney: The negotiation of public and private interests
Discovery Project: $184,582

This project links planning policy, urban design and planning history.  It assesses the contribution of design-led policy to reconciling private ambitions for economic growth with aspirations for quality public outcomes in the planning approval processes for major commercial development in the Sydney Central Business District (CBD).  Concentrating on the past decade, it aims to examine the changing economic structure of the CBD, linking the changing form of the city to evolving design policies.  it seeks to recover the experiences of participants in the development approval process and communicate instructive stories of the complex intersection between market forces and design regimens.


Pawson, Prof Hal; Hulse, Prof Kathleen J; Randolph, Prof Bill
Project title: The Role of Investor Landlords in Restructuring Australia's Major Cities
Discovery Project: $280,275

With their property acquisition activity reaching record levels, investor landlords are now key players in Australia's housing market.  This has sparked vigorous public debate on the contribution of this activity to a 'housing price bubble' and the crowding out of first home buyers.  Given new research indicating private rental provision growing fastest in the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods, another effect may be to exacerbate the socio-spatial polarisation of our major cities.  This project will therefore investigate the drivers and consequences of growing private rental investment in Australia's major cities, especially in disadvantaged areas.  Project findings are expected to inform national housing, planning and urban policy.


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Legacy, Dr Crystal
Project title: Planning in a State of Panic: Did the economic crisis transform city making practices for the long term?
Discovery Early Career Researcher Award: $392,815

This project will investigate the dynamic tensions between large-scale economic crises and emergent city planning practices through a detailed examination of the local impacts in cities in Australia and Canada. It will provide ground-breaking narratives on the influence of national government economic intervention strategies on the delivery of socially sustainable urban infrastructure at the local level and on the broader implications for how cities are to become more socially sustainable into the future. These important findings will inform urban planning and urban resilience theory by creating new theoretical and contextual knowledge about the transformative practices of city making within a crisis.


Morris, Dr Alan; Pawson, Prof Hal; Hulse, Prof Kathleen J
Project Title: Long Term Private Renters
Discovery Project: $330,000 (hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

A new Generation Rent is emerging in Australia. Already one in 12 Australian households, many families among them, find that private renting no longer leads to home ownership but is a long-term or permanent reality, exposing them to such risks as forced moves at short notice. Despite the group's large and growing size, little is known of its characteristics or the consequences for children and adults. The project will probe why people become long-term renters, how far they are able to make a home and exercise some control over their circumstances and the ways in which long-term renting affects their wellbeing. Yielding new analytical insights into the long-term effects of housing insecurity, the study will also inform housing policy.


Randolph, Prof Bill; Easthope, Dr Hazel; Pinnegar, A/Prof Simon M; Bunker, A/Prof Raymond C
Project title: Planning in a Market Economy: The case of the compact city
Discovery Project: $270,000

Australian cities face immense pressure to meet projected housing need. ‘Compact city’ policies promoting higher density urban renewal within the urban boundary, largely delivered through the private market, are seen as solutions to this problem. Using innovative conceptual and methodological approaches, this project will determine the nature and extent of recent higher density urban renewal in three Australian cities, explore the motivations of the those involved and their understanding of the policy context, and determine the factors inhibiting housing supply in urban renewal target areas. The research will advance planning theory in the management of contemporary urban change and support more informed planning policy in this area.


Vizel, Dr Ilan
Project title: Urban Inequality: The initiation and preservation of spatial privilege in Australia’s elite suburbs
Discovery Early Career Researcher Award: $392,371

Increased spatial inequality in Australian cities since the 1970s has seen rising wealth in the wealthiest suburbs and increased poverty in the poorest. Investigating the drivers of such polarisation, this project will innovate by focusing on the wealthiest suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. It will measure inequalities in access to services and investigate how affluent communities mobilise their financial means, family and social networks and negotiation skills to draw in investment in infrastructure and services. This project’s results will advance international analytical knowledge of urban dynamics and will inform planning and policy strategies to achieve more equitable distribution of services and infrastructure in metropolitan areas.


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Easthope, Dr Hazel
Project title: City Living: Urban consolidation and the social sustainability of cities
Future Fellowship: $681,208

This project will investigate the dynamic tensions that arise in cities between individual and communal rights and requirements through a detailed examination of the lived experiences of urban apartment residents and owners. It will provide ground-breaking data on the influence of socio-economic mix on the governance and management of apartment buildings, residents’ perceptions of home and the broader implications for the social sustainability of cities and will further current academic debates on these issues. It will open new opportunities for inter-disciplinary and international collaboration and provide evidence to inform planning and urban development policy nationally and internationally.


Loosemore, Prof Martin; Powell, Dr Abigail; Chappell, Prof Louise A; Dainty, Prof Andrew; Collins, Ms Kara; Fuller, Ms Kylie; Broderick, Ms Elizabeth; Tilly, Ms Jo
Project title:  Building Gender Equity and Diversity in the Australian Construction Industry
Linkage Project: $307,000
Partner Organisation(s): Loughborough University; Lend Lease Communities; Brookfield Multiplex Ltd; Australian Human Rights Commission; Diversity Council Australia Limited

This project will investigate the construction industry's informal gender rules and their role in inhibiting policy measures to improve gender equity and diversity in the industry's professional ranks. The project will make innovative recommendations for shifting the stubborn gender imbalance.


Randolph, Prof Bill; Easthope, Dr Hazel; Pinnegar, Dr Simon M; Adams, Mr Toby; Petzel, Ms Sarah; Stiles, Ms Karen; Manickam, Mr Suresh; Allen, Mr Michael; Porter, Ms Leanne
Project Title: Renewing the Compact City: Economically viable and socially sustainable approaches to urban redevelopment in a complex multi-stakeholder environment
Linkage Project:  $229,193
Partner Organisation(s): Urbangrowth NSW; Macquarie Bank Ltd; NSW Fair Trading; Strata Community Australia (NSW); Australian College of Community Association Lawyers Inc; Owners Corporation Network of Australia Ltd

This project will investigate a key challenge facing city planners in Australia over the next 30 years: how to renew older areas of multi-unit housing, providing not only economically but also socially viable solutions within a market context and enable all players - developers, policymakers and residents - to benefit from the coming city redevelopment.

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Bridge, A/Prof Catherine E; Judd, A/Prof Bruce H; Lowe, Mr Russell; Demirbilek, A/Prof Oya R; Peng, Prof Gang-Ding; Ward, Mr Stephen J; Cummings, Dr Stephen J
Project Title: Liveable Bathrooms for Older People: Designing out dependence in activities of daily living
Linkage Project: $446,000 (ARC); $300,000 (Partner)
Partner Organisation(s): Caroma Industries

This project aims to establish the design fundamentals needed for the development of more flexible, innovative and safer bathroom fixtures and domestic bathroom environments for older Australians. It provides an understanding of bathroom features and characteristics that function well for older persons and those that diminish their wellbeing.


Easthope, Dr Hazel; Burnley, Em/Prof Ian H; Judd, A/Prof Bruce H
Project Title: Living Together: The rise of multigenerational households in Australian cities
Discovery Project:  $171,051       

This project will determine the principal reasons for the significant increase in the number of Australians living in households of multiple generations of related adults, and the impact of these trends on Australian families. It will provide information to help forecast demand for services and subsidies, including housing and aged care.


Freestone, Prof Robert; Amati, Dr Marco
Project Title: Exhibitionism: Codifying and communicating planning culture in Australia 1913-1951
Discovery Project:  $152,500       

This project will illuminate the emergence of Australian urban planning in the early 20th century through the novel lens of major community exhibitions. The focus is on the staging, content, outcomes, significance and latter-day lessons of these highly visual exhibitions in shaping and communicating an understanding of planning values.


Haeusler, Dr Matthias H; Tomitsch, Dr Martin; Barker, Prof Tom; Kirchner, Dr Nathan G; Zeibots, Dr Michelle E; Glazebrook, Dr Garry J; Hill, Mr Daniel P
Project Title: Responsive Transport Environments: Spatial and visual user information technologies to allow improved passenger flow and a better customer experience
Linkage Project:  $107,649 (ARC)
Partner Organisation(s): Arup Pty Ltd; City of Sydney Council; Grimshaw Architects Pty Ltd; RailCorp; Transport NSW

The research will investigate how to relieve growing usage pressure on Australian public transport by using user-responsive digital technologies to offer a complementary approach to infrastructure expansion. The work includes the evaluation of prototypes in real transport locations to evaluate the impact on user capacity and the customer experience.


Mendelssohn, A/Prof Joanna; De Lorenzo, Dr Catherine M; Speck, A/Prof Catherine M; Inglis, A/Prof Alison S; Murphy, Ms Bernice L; Elliott, Mr Simon M; Miller, Mr Steven J
Project Title: Australian Art Exhibitions 1968-2009: A generation of cultural transformation
Linkage Project: $117,000 (Hosted by College of Fine Arts)
Partner Organisation(s):  Art Gallery of NSW; Art Gallery of South Australia; Museums Australia Incorporated; National Gallery of Australia; National Gallery of Victoria

The years 1968 to 2009 witnessed a transformation in the way Australians saw the art of their country. This project investigates the impact of increased funding (government and private) and new scholarship on the curating of art exhibitions, and traces the reconfiguration of Australia's art history that took place in exhibitions during this period.


Harley, Prof Ross R; Bennett, Prof Jill; Anderson, Prof Jaynie L; Ledbury, Prof Andrew M; Verhoeven, Prof Deb; McNeil, Prof Peter K; Edquist, Prof Harriet; Schmidt, Prof Heinrich W; Friedman, Prof Ken; Sierra, Prof Marie A; Speck, A/Prof Catherine M; Mendelssohn, A/Prof Joanna; Thomas, A/Prof Paul; Biddle, Dr Jennifer L; White, Dr Anthony G; De Lorenzo, Dr Catherine M; Callaway, Dr Anita J; Chan, Mr Sebastian R
Project Title: Design and Art Australia Online: Sustainable data sharing for Australian researchers and collections
LIEF Project: $240,000 (hosted by College of Fine Arts)
Partner Organisation(s):  Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse); Curtin University of Technology; Deakin University; RMIT University; Swinburne University of Technology; The University of Adelaide; The University of Melbourne; The University of Sydney; University of Tasmania; University of Technology, Sydney

This project will produce a comprehensive and authoritative research facility of national and international significance. The enhanced Design and Art Australia Online facility will provide crucial information pertaining to Australia's art and design heritage that will be open for researchers of all levels, from school students through to higher-education researchers.

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Page Last Updated: 10 May 2016