The Alliance is built on interdisciplinarity and on maximising the benefits to be gained from working at a range of scales and approaches. We explore places and spaces over the whole life cycle, from planning, through design, construction and usage. Together, we investigate the social, economic and political factors which shape our world and the impact that our built and natural environments have on our health, wellbeing and resilience, our ability to understand our past and to plan our sustainable futures.

From strategy to live projects: We have a joint Alliance Research Committee to foster excellence in research and support a range of techniques and approaches to enquiry. We have strategy-formulating away days and focused meetings for the early exchange of information on particular research themes, including our key areas of investigation and expertise. The Alliance maximizes research synergies and impacts across four key themes:

(1) Healthy and inclusive cities

Our research connects human wellbeing with the quality of built and natural environments via our research teams that seeks to make cities more inclusive, safe and healthy.

  • Global Cities, Spatial Planning and Place
  • Health, Wellbeing and Environment
  • Place-Making with Older Adults
  • Social Inclusion and Urban Governance
  • Housing and Property – Planning, Design and Market Operation

(2) Sustainable cities

Our research explores and improves sustainable patterns of living for people in urban communities, including in the Global South with a focus on Latin America and South Asia. Our teams carry out research projects spanning from land use risk management to healthy buildings.

  • Construction Technology and Project Management
  • Environmental Sustainability and Low Carbon

(3) Urban history and heritage

Research into urban history and heritage enriches architectural-historical debates through transnational, postcolonial and inclusive frameworks and projects.

  • History and Heritage

(4) Urban design and creative practice

Research in urban  design and creative practice advances resilient infrastructures, promotes inclusive and sustainable processes, fosters innovation and aims to make cities, human settlements and their landscapes inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

  • Design and technology


Our research booklets provide details of projects under these themes and sub themes.

Support for initiatives

We are dedicated to developing the talent of postgraduate research students and early career researchers. Opportunities range from working on large, multi-institutional, Research Council-funded studies to taking a leading role on our Kick Start projects. Announced in 2011, the Kick Start programme was developed to stimulate innovative research between architects, engineers, scientists and surveyors, with one criterion being that each project had to involve both Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt researchers (preferably early career or emerging).

Project websites

Carpinelo 2 in Medellín. Photo: Harry Smith.