My personal research centres on place, settlement and region. I am undertaking research toward a PhD by Design exploring the role of design in market towns. Market towns have a high historical and cultural value as well as a key economic role in the countryside, particularly in Wales. The growing desirability of these places conceals challenges of affordability, changing demographic needs and a decline in services provision that threaten their survival. Existing region-led, conservation-based planning policies and zonal development plans often result in out of scale and peripheral development and limit the potential for contemporary infill, addition and reinforcement of settlements to enhancement of their sense of place. To support this research, I attended the international Monte Carasso Summer Design Seminar led by the Swiss architect Luigi Snozzi, whose long-standing involvement in the town has led to a unique, design-led planning approach. Studies testing this approach in the UK were exhibited as part of Reflecting Wales 09.09.
Through this research I have developed an interest in community-led design; I am leading an ongoing project to develop a community-led plan for the north Wales market town of Ruthin, testing alternative approaches to community engagement. This ongoing project proposes an incremental approach to urban design that maximizes the impact of the limited budgets town councils are given; this has resulted in design of several small scale projects around the town that have potential to both improve the public realm and provide economic benefits to the town. This interest in reuse of small scale spaces led me to co-organise Remnants: Reflecting Wales 2011, a competition and exhibition asking for ideas for leftover and forgotten spaces in Cardiff.
Working at Design Research Unit Wales I have developed an interest in innovative construction systems and Low Carbon design, particularly focused on how these can respond to place and context. I am currently working on a research project in the Low Carbon Research Institute’s Low Carbon Built Environment programme exploring low carbon design, focussing on best practice, exemplar designs and industry guidance across a range of sectors.
Innovative construction systems