City Lab

Art in culture, health, housing and commerce 

The Lab asks how we can use art more effectively in society

Lab Leader: John Byrne

The City Lab aims to develop research that will:

  • build new forms of citizenship based on creativity and social responsibility
  • help us to re-imagine our current uses of architecture, art, design, fashion and urbanism within and across the fields of culture, health, housing and commerce within the context of the city
  • develop new forms of hybrid and transdisciplinary practices that are capable of having positive, real world and sustainable impact on the social, political, economic and cultural infrastructure of the city

This process would involve a drive to reshape the pedagogic delivery and professional practice of architecture, art and design within the context of the city. This can be achieved by working across a range of socially oriented projects and practices that call for social change within the city context. As well as respecting and examining existing disciplinary specificities, this will also mean working with more comprehensive, expanded constituencies, reaching and building new audiences and developing models of city-based architecture, art, fashion and design practices that are valued more widely, beyond the current conventions of economic and personal impact.

The City Lab’s research expertise combines:

  • Application: practice-led and practice-based approaches to knowledge production
  • Usership: the uses of architecture, art and design as creative tools for educational development and social change
  • Constituencies: the uses of art and design in developing collaborative forms of social and ecological change
  • History and critical theory: rethinking the story of how art can be used in society

Research projects:

The research conducted by the City Lab demonstrates synergy between architecture, art and design practice and theory. It is distinctive through its diversity. At its core are discourses of the city and the network of practices upon which it impacts.

The long-term Research aim of the City Lab will be to develop a local, national and international programme of activities and collaborations built around the key themes of:

  • The uses of art and design
  • Socially engaged/transdisciplinary practice
  • Architecture
  • Fashion
  • Design
  • Brand and identity
  • Communication design
  • Place making
  • Regeneration and sustainable cities
  • Academic/cultural organisation partnerships
  • Pedagogy
  • Art, design, health and wellbeing
  • Alternative economies
  • Regeneration

The City Lab in Context:

All the research fields within The City Lab expose the impact and influence of architecture, art, fashion and design within the context of our everyday environment. The City Lab’s research projects embody how the production of original knowledge, through practice and critical theory, can lead to real, impactful and sustainable change within our contemporary culture.

Rethinking and reimagining the city through constituent practices of sustainability, material constructions and applications of technology contributes to the enhancement of our local, national and global environments.

The research themes of City Lab simultaneously occupy the cutting edge of their disciplinary specificities whilst remaining active within the real-world context of the city. City Lab supports research and practice that embraces or focuses on those elements that are undiscovered or operate in the realms of periphery, such as design for well-being and constituent practices that enable the reimagination of marginal cultures within the urban environment.

City Lab will seek to innovate and promote enterprise-based teaching and learning practices within its research context via the development of a student-led and entrepreneurial pedagogy.

The remediation of architecture art, fashion and design practices within City Lab leads to the development of culturally significant practices whereby the communicative powers of art and design objects and projects allude to the transformative nature of products and environments. This research is evident in the projects of spatial design through themes of the vernacular and sustainability.

City Lab project archive


The Uses of Art: The Legacy of 1848 and 1989

Museum of Arte Útil

Really Useful Knowledge

Confessions of the Imperfect, 1848-1989-Today

Glossary of Common Knowledge: Constituencies

The Arte Útil Summit 2016

Asociación de Arte Útil

Conference: Working with Constituents

The Uses of Art: Final Exhibition

Health and wellbeing projects

Health and wellbeing projects

What's on for dementia wellbeing

Labyrinth Exchange

Life Chance Fund Steering Group

On Cloud 79

Health Systems Global Symposium


  • ALL
  • A
  • B
  • C
  • D
  • E
  • F
  • G
  • H
  • I
  • J
  • K
  • L
  • M
  • N
  • O
  • P
  • Q
  • R
  • S
  • T
  • U
  • V
  • W
  • X
  • Y
  • Z

Loading staff profiles…