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Human Building Interactions (RDF17/ABE/MCINTYRE)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr L McIntyre  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A dynamic and ever-changing world creates a multitude of complex design challenges. Understanding how to create a supportive built environment remains a key challenge facing contemporary designers.

It has never been so timely and important to capture evidence of how the built environment impacts on wellbeing, social connectivity and enablement of building users. There is much to be learnt from human interactions within existing buildings, however this potential is rarely capitalised on within architecture. The ways in which occupants use buildings, and the devices inside, can reveal the constraints that influence how we live and work in our buildings.

The multidisciplinary domain of Human-Building Interaction (HBI), seeks to investigate the physical, spatial and social opportunities that emerge as built environments become increasingly interactive. Set within this domain, this PhD (which has the potential to cross disciplines of architecture, healthcare, occupational therapy and human computing interaction) will investigate and uncover evidence associated with the intrinsic link between interactions with the buildings and the effect on the activity, productivity, health and wellbeing of those who occupy them.

The research will be closely aligned with Northumbria University’s Digital Living Research Group. The PhD candidate will have the unique opportunity to define a user-group and building typology according to their own interests (for example, autism and educational environments, ageing and cultural centres, or perhaps sensorial impairment and transport hubs).
A framework of ethnographic methods will be utilised to build understanding of the needs of real-life users. Acquiring knowledge of Grounded Theory and ethical/data protocols will be important to advance the research.

This research will contribute new data in furthering understanding about specific user groups and building typologies. This knowledge is key for the future of Architecture if we are to design healthy and productive buildings.

Eligibility and How to Apply
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required (evidence required by 1 August 2017).

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please ensure you quote the advert reference above on your application form.
Deadline for applications: 20 January 2017
Start Date: 2 October 2017

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

This project is being considered for funding in competition with other projects, through one of two types of funding packages available:
• Fully funded studentships include a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates for 2017/18 (this is yet to be set, in 2016/17 this is £14,296 pa) and fees (Home/EU £4,350 / International £13,000 / International Lab-based £16,000), and are available to applicants worldwide.
• As Northumbria celebrates its 25th anniversary as a University and in line with our international outlook, some projects may also be offered to students from outside of the EU supported by a half-fee reduction.


McIntyre, L.J., Harrison, I., 2016 ‘Knowing how to design for older adults: Reflecting on Knowledge exchange methods’, Architecture Research Quarterly (In Press)

McIntyre, L.J. & Hanson, V.L., BESiDE: The Built Environment for Social Inclusion in the Digital Economy, Digital Futures 2014, Annual Digital Economy All Hands Conference, Imperial College, London. December 3-5 2014

McIntyre, L.J., 2014. Buildings and Users with Visual Impairment: Uncovering Factors for Accessibility using BITKit. The 16th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility. Assets 20 -22 October 2014. Rochester, New York, USA. DOI=10.1145/2661334.2661371

Dr Rosie Parnell
Parnell, R. and Patsarika, M. (forthcoming 2016) Designing with Children: A Guide for Architects and Educators. Routledge, Abingdon

Parnell, R. (2015) Co-creative Adventures in School Design. In P. Woolner ed. School Design Together. Routledge, Abingdon. 123-137.

Parnell, R. and Patsarika, M. (2014) Playful Voices in Participatory Design In C. Burke and K. Jones eds.Talking Colin Ward. Routledge, Abingdon. 99-110