Research in KNOWLEDGE ENVIRONMENTS (KE) reflects the development of an emerging field, at the intersection of architecture, urban, educational and cultural planning and pedagogy. It considers the understanding of the contemporary socio-spatial aspects of education and their growing complexity, following a systemic and thematic approach, by analysing the evolution of KE and their relationship with learning modes, diagnosing current conditions, identifying needs and trends.
The main goals are to assess the spatial impact of ever-changing educational foci; to develop spatial models capable of fostering socially inclusive urban educational territories and dynamic hubs of knowledge-sharing; to address the costs and benefits of innovative interventions, including engaging the local community in decision-making.
Thematic studies are mainly centred on secondary and higher education levels in Portugal and developed on the basis of international comparative assessments. They made it possible to build a new “narrative” for revisiting the spatial integration of KE in urban areas and instilling their design with the necessary “atmosphere” to serve as both formal and informal learning spaces in decades to come. Research includes the collaboration with R&D centres in learning science and education policy (IE; UIED; CIPES, IN+), OECD-CELE, Ministry of Education, Higher Education Accreditation Agency (A3ES) and several municipalities.
Studies on Architecture and Urban History addressed the role of HERITAGE, as a key resource for developing a sustainable urban environment. Reflections in this area focused on the context, design and building processes, technologies and materials, as well as on economic, social, environmental and cultural aspects. Emphasis was given to depicting and interpreting pre-modern and modern buildings, urban areas and public spaces and developing strategies for their adaptive reuse according to best practices (Docomomo, ICOMOS, Ticchi, UNESCO Heritage Centre).
The main goals are to use heritage as a resource tool in design practice; improving strategies for the reuse of built structures and public spaces, considering comfort and security standards for practical and sustainable building design. The challenge is to preserve identity and existing qualities, while making room for interventions that allow for a new function or an updated use.
An international network is established, connecting 10 universities worldwide, together with collaborations with R&D centres working on heritage management and re-use policy (EPFL; ETH; TUDELFT; UTokyo; Polimo; Shanghai Tongji), Getty Center, CCA, IHRU, and several municipalities.
LANDSCAPE AS A SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM
LANDSCAPE AS A SOCIAL-ECOLOGICAL SYSTEM research is focused on the way people and their activities interact with the environment, shaping everyday landscapes and livelihoods by exploring that relationship on multiple levels. Conceptual models are being developed to foster an understanding of those relationships where the identity of both people and the territory emerges as a pivotal asset for fostering the legibility of the urban environment and improving the quality of urban life, while defining the city attractiveness for investment and activities such as tourism. The approaches focus on energy efficiency in buildings and urban areas; nature-based solutions for adapting to climate change; air quality; quality of fluvial ecosystems; services in public spaces and their assessment; social and psychological benefits, and their integration into a comprehensive, interconnected and multifunctional green infrastructure network.
The main goals are the development of resource-efficient and sustainable building designs based on energy use, users perceptions of comfort and their respective behaviour; implementing adaptations to climate changes on a local scale; making landscape identity operational in planning practice; developing innovative approaches to conflict resolution between competing ecosystem services; adopting methods for engaging communities in collaborative design processes; and conceptualising community-based monitoring processes.
By adopting a holistic approach, the research explores synergies generated by reconnecting people with nature to foster the transformation of society towards sustainability, raising environmental awareness, and engaging people in the coproduction of knowledge. Research networks were established with different universities: Ghent, Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Cambridge, Berkeley, Barcelona.
PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE ENLARGED CITY
PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT FOR THE ENLARGED CITY focus on: developing new planning and management paradigms, by examining the limitations of their present frameworks in dealing with a changing environment; devising efficient ways of linking urban strategies to projects that can materialise them; identifying and characterising structural elements that can promote urban and territorial cohesion; developing collaborative management tools and fiscal frameworks that facilitate and promote the involvement of stakeholders in the implementation of territorial and urban plans.
The main goals are the development of new planning and management approaches emerging from problems associated with rapid urban growth and the need to maintain the vitality and liveability of consolidated cities. Emphasis is placed on public policies faced with financial constraints and the new dynamics of the private sector.
Research in SPATIAL JUSTICE as a promoter of socio-metropolitan cohesion stems from the urgency of building new knowledge and increasing the capacity for intervention in the correction of spatial inequalities, reflected in great disparities in territories and communities in terms of access to social and collective services.
Contributions are very diverse, focusing on: healthy territories, by mapping healthcare facilities, proposing locative models for large equipment, collaborating in the effort to combat obesity and other chronic diseases, reinforcing the emerging concept of ageing already in place and improving urban and architectural conditions to mitigate human disabilities; housing, by assessing residential satisfaction, promoting a better urban integration of public housing estates and developing programmes to improve affordable options; mobility and accessibility in the public space, by identifying gaps and unmet needs, and monitoring the capacity for social and physical integration.
The main goals are to tackle spatial inequalities, promote socio-metropolitan cohesion, in a context of either urban growth or decline; develop spatial models to promote healthy territories, housing affordability and more equitable mobility and accessibility solutions for vulnerable user communities under innovative processes of shared/collaborative governance.
Research includes the collaboration with several municipalities in the Lisbon metropolitan region.
PRACTICE BASED RESEARCH
PRACTICE-BASED RESEARCH involves a reflection upon the state of architecture and urban education and practice, and the development of integrative design platforms and collaborative design tools.
The goal is to build a robust body of knowledge in close interaction with architects, urban designers and planners. The research program involves a reflection upon the state of architectural and urban education and practice, and outcome measures for the future; evaluation of design protocols, strategies and procedures; development of integrative design platforms and collaborative design tools.