The Centre for Design Practice Research, the d___ Lab, unites in a single body made up of several teams of researchers working in the School of Architecture and Design (A&D).
All of these researchers undertake research into design through different methods of design practice - they are researchers for whom the theory of design is grounded in and inseparable from the practice of design.
The Centre formalises a well-established and highly innovative research paradigm within the School. Formation of the Centre consolidates the research expertise of these different teams, exposes individual members to other ways of thinking about and practising design, and provides opportunities for new collaborative ventures to emerge at the confluence of its different streams of research.
The benefits to RMIT arising from the d____ Lab are as follows.
- The Centre is a collaborative research environment uniting two areas of research excellence at RMIT as identified in the 2015 Excellence in Research Australia (ERA), namely architecture in which performance was assessed as above world standard, and design, in which performance was assessed as at or above world standard and thus builds on identified areas of research and scholarly excellence.
- It brings together senior researchers with a proven track record in producing high quality research outcomes in securing substantial external funding, in developing and sustaining engagement with industry and community partners nationally and internationally, and in supervising and training higher degree research (HDR) students with early career researchers (ECR) who benefit from the expertise of their senior colleagues.
- It consolidates established global partnerships linkages and relationships with Asia and Europe (including an important relationship with the OSC international focus city of Barcelona), providing new opportunities, and participation in existing, international collaborative ventures.
- It attracts HDR candidates who are not only internationally based but who are already leading practitioners in their field, helping to establish RMIT as a global centre for design research training and accreditation and confirming the d___ Lab as an internationally sought after research training destination.
- It pursues projects that allow for the involvement and training of higher degree research students and inform the curriculum of those researchers teaching in academic programs. It unites researchers whose individual research outcomes usually take the form of scholarly publications with those whose modes of dissemination also embrace peer-reviewed curatorial work, creative work and design, in order to identify ways in which the forms of research dissemination of each may be broadened and its level of excellence enhanced.
The d___ Lab is fully aligned with the activities of the School, since it consolidates core areas of research activity already undertaken. Research within the Centre is also aligned with all five areas of specialisation and excellence identified in the RMIT Research and Innovation Plan 2011-2015.
The overall mission of the Research Centre, in accordance with the disciplinary orientation of the host School, is to focus on the challenge of designing the future and as such to enhance RMIT's status as a university of technology and design. But in addition to its primary mission individual research projects and teams within the Centre also address the other areas of research specialisation identified in the plan.
For example, the future of cities provides the explicit motivation for the work undertaken by the Office of Urban Transformations Research(OUTr) and by the Urban Architecture Laboratory (UAL) which explore challenges thrown up by contemporary cities in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design.
These challenges also increasingly involve the development of solutions to the issues of sustainability and climate change. Improving health and lifestyle is a central aim of the research into the urban acoustic environment undertaken by the SIAL Sound Studios, into the sensory, material and physiological conditions of contemporary habitation undertaken by the Urban Interior team and into new possibilities for social and aesthetic urban engagement explored by the X-Field team.
A focus on the design possibilities offered by emerging technologies is central to the development and employment of computational and data-centric design processes at SIAL and the Speculative Architecture team. This work is extended into areas of robotic fabrication and new materials by the Architectural Robotics team.