Writtle University College and ARU have merged. Writtle’s full range of college, degree, postgraduate and short courses will still be delivered on the Writtle campus. See our guide to finding Writtle information on this site.

The Built Environment Futures (BEF) Research Group

Our vision

The Built Environment Futures (BEF) research group is dedicated to shaping the future of the built environment through transformative research and innovation. The BEF team aspires to establish itself as a global leader in built environment research, recognised for its groundbreaking contributions to sustainable design, intelligent construction, and impactful urban development. BEF focuses on advancing the built environment by exploring sustainable design practices, harnessing the power of digital technologies, and fostering values-driven education and research.

BEF mission statement

BEF is committed to advancing the Built Environment by exploring sustainable design practices, harnessing the power of digital technologies, and fostering values-driven education and research. We strive to create a sustainable and resilient future for the Built Environment through research, innovation, and collaboration.

  1. Pioneering sustainable building practices: Develop innovative approaches to building design, construction, and operation that minimise environmental impact and achieve net zero carbon emissions.
  2. Harnessing digital transformation: Champion the integration of AI, digital technologies, and advanced data analytics to revolutionise the built environment industry.
  3. Advancing built environment education: Nurture future generations of built environment professionals through innovative teaching methods and immersive learning experiences.
  4. Embedding social value: Promote the integration of social value considerations into all aspects of built environment development to create positive impacts on communities and society.

Our research sits within the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and we conduct our research under three main themes:

Building and Asset Management theme

A multidisciplinary network comprising of Planners, Architects, Engineers, Technologists and Construction Professionals that promotes research and collaboration on policies, principles, technologies and design solutions to healthy buildings and high energy performance. Researchers in this network seek to engage with policy makers and industrial partners to develop and implement carbon-free renewable energy solutions and technologies with the potential to improve energy efficiency in buildings.

Built Environment and Construction Intelligences theme

Including:

  • Transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on Built Environment professions and their practices
  • Adaptability of digital construction technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM), robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and virtual reality (VR)
  • Management systems that enhance productivity, efficiency, and safety of construction projects
  • Use of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) and offsite construction techniques
  • Design of intelligent and cognitive buildings to optimise energy use

    Built Environment Values and Contemplations theme

    This covers areas such as:

    • Use of active learning methodologies in BE to enhance student engagement and professional development
    • Application of vernacular architecture techniques in addressing environmental challenges
    • Role of architectural theory and practice in developing urban narratives that encompass sustainability, cultural identity, and spatial representation
    • Physical transformations in urban spaces - drivers and impacts & tool and technologies
    • Integrating social value requirements in planning and procurement of construction supply chain

    These themes are indicative, but our research is integrative of historical and contemporary theories, policies, practices, tools, and techniques that can shape the future of our built environment.

    BEF has core and affiliate members who work in networks comprising of researchers, distinguished academics and industrial partners. The networks organise research seminars, stakeholders' fora and partnership events.

    DIRECT (Design Interscalar Research on Environment, Culture, and Technology)

    A fantastical abstract image of a set of skyscrapers made from straight lines and circles

    The network focuses on design research across disciplinary fields and scales, With a focus on architecture, architectural technology, urban design, town planning, and landscape design. The network is interested in the intersections between theory and practice, creativity and media studies, human and nonhuman agents, history and future agendas, rural and vernacular approaches, inclusive and sustainable spaces, sociology and psychology.


    Members

    Passiv Haus and Net Zero Energy (PHNZ)

    A line drawing of a building with the words "Anglia Ruskin University" under it, surrounded by a variety of indistinct icons
    A multidisciplinary network comprising of Planners, Architects, Engineers, Technologists and Construction Professional that promotes research and collaboration on policies, principles, technologies and design solutions to healthy buildings and high energy performance. Researchers in this network seek to engage with policy makers and industrial partners to develop and implement carbon-free renewable energy solutions and technologies with the potential to improve energy efficiency in buildings.

     

    Membership

    Off-site and Premanufactured Construction (OPN) Network

    A 3D generated image of a house
    The OPC Network looks to develop a dynamic approach that revolutionises the future of construction in the UK to make it more efficient and sustainable. The OPCN looks to partner with the industry in capturing best practices and exploring current challenges to allow us to guide the industry through the transformative journey.





    Members

    Media, Artificial Intelligence, Digital and Visual methods (MAIDV)

    A generated image of a view of the tops of skyscrapers, as seen from below
    MAIDV is a dynamic research network dedicated to advancing the fields of Media, Artificial Intelligence, Digital, and Visual methods in construction. The focus lies in harnessing modern technologies to revolutionise the industry. Through rigorous research and robust collaborations with industrial partners, MAIDV strives to be at the forefront of digital skills in the built environment, envisaging a future where the industry effortlessly embraces task automation, optimisation, and visualisation, thereby enhancing communication and efficiency.


    Membership

    Built Asset Management (BAM) Network: Protection, Conservation, Retrofitting & Adaptation

    A cartoon image of a house surrounded by icons
    BAM network promotes research and knowledge exchange in building life cycle assessment and management. The current built asset is composed of a diverse range of constructions that need to be protected, retrofitted, and adapted to overcome present and future natural and man-made threats. The BAM network strives to satisfy the ever-changing population housing needs by protecting and conserving heritage and more recently built assets and adapting them to new, challenging environmental conditions and user needs.


    Membership

    Pedagogy, Diversity and Professional Skills (PDPS) Network

    A sci-fi fantasy style image of a person on a tall building looking at a circular structure in the sky
    PDPF network look to nurture future generations of built environment professionals through innovative teaching methods and immersive learning experiences. We collaborate with the employers, industries and professional bodies to build a legacy through research, education, and outreach, reflecting the commitment to shaping a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable world. We will integrate principles of social sustainability in all aspects of the building environment through planning and procurement of construction supply chain.


    Membership

    This is currently under development.

    ARU is the largest provider of built environment education in Essex and the South East region. Our School offers postgraduate research opportunities in Engineering and the Built Environment through the traditional PhD route, as well as Professional Doctorates for mid-career and experienced professionals who want to pursue a doctorate while working full time.

    We provide comprehensive support for rigorous quantitative or qualitative studies and analyses. We are a multidisciplinary team with expertise in Architecture and design technology, Town and Urban Planning, Engineering and Project management, surveying and Construction management, and Civil engineering. We also have specialist expertise in Artificial intelligence, Digital technologies, qualitative and quantitative research methods to foster any form of a collaborative research in all areas influencing the built environment.

    Dr Christian Henjewele: [email protected]