Sustainability and innovation in design


This research area comprises key contributions to the fields of architecture, as well as design practice and management. It often focuses on the delivery of sustainable environments, products and services through the application of digital tools and systems. It seeks to deliver social and economic advantages to government, industry and community.

Particular areas of research strength include:


  • People and Systems Research Laboratory with software for data analysis and eye tracking system for data collection
  • Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA Pty Ltd) Design Incubator
  • The Cube


Evidence of research quality

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) 2012 score:

  • 3 (at world standard) -
    • Built Environment and Design (FOR 12)
    • Architecture (FOR 1201)
    • Design Practice and Management (FOR 1203)

ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) evaluates the quality of research undertaken in Australian universities against national and international benchmarks.

Developing new researchers

Research students
Early career researchers

Publication output

2011 total

Research income

2012 total

Key grants

  • A seasonal media artwork exploring nominal migration patterns and extinction of human experience
  • Specimen: series of networked wearable art exploring psychological texture or our urban landscape
  • Long time no see
  • Extending building information models (BIM) for specifications and cost planning
  • Supporting infrastructure management by combining sensors and asset information models
  • Airports of the future
  • Personal safety in the city: design solutions for after dark
  • Eat, cook, grow: ubiquitous technology for sustainable food culture in the city
  • New media services
  • Emerging from the shadows: the evaluation of intervention strategies to reduce social isolation amongst the aged
  • Facilitating intuitive interaction with complex devices for older users



This is just a sample of our research activity in this area.

Student topics

Potential topics for new research students.


International linkages

  • University of Salford - Visiting Professor
  • Tampere University of Technology - researcher exchange
  • University of Duisberg-Essen - joint research grant
  • University of Dortmund - joint research grant
  • RWTH Aachen University - joint research grant
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology - joint workshops
  • Florida Atlantic University, Fort Lauderdale
  • International Network of Tropical Architecture, Singapore
  • Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
  • American Collegiate Schools of Architecture
  • Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
  • University of California, Irvine
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • SENSEable City Lab, MIT
  • School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University
  • Intel User Experience Group
  • University of Siegen, Germany
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, South Africa
  • Institute for the Future, Palo Alto
  • KAIST (South Korea)
  • Politecnico di Milano (Italy)
  • Cambridge University (Inclusive Design Research Group)
  • TU Berlin (User Interface Design Group)
  • ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design)
  • Tsinghua University (China)
  • SADI (Samsung), South Korea

Significant corporate partnerships

  • Ergon
  • Project Services (Queensland)
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Infrastructure and Engineering Asset Management
  • Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre
  • Smart Services CRC
  • Dairy Australia
  • Queensland Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning
  • Brisbane City Council, Brisbane Development Association
  • Delfin Lend Lease
  • Vivas Lend Lease
  • Brisbane Council
  • Sunshine Coast Regional Council
  • Sapporo City Council (Japan)
  • The Edge
  • FKP
  • Kelvin Grove Urban Village
  • Optus
  • James Street Cooking School
  • Cityfood Growers
  • Queensland Writers Centre
  • Australian Business Foundation
  • Food Connect
  • Smart Now
  • National ICT Australia
  • University of Newcastle
  • Lincoln Social Computing Research Centre
  • Cornell Interaction Design Lab
  • BAC (Brisbane Airport Corporation)
  • IATA (International Air Transport Association)
  • Melbourne Airport
  • Gold Coast Airport
  • Queensland Health
  • Royal Brisbane Hospital
  • Design Resource International (Sydney)
  • auDA Foundation
  • IMAP Systems Pty Ltd
  • State Library of Queensland
  • Kyabra Community Association
  • Open Minds
  • Micah
  • Meiji (Japan)
  • NIFT (India)

Cross-disciplinary engagement

  • Energy
  • Computer science/software engineering
  • Business
  • Science and Technology
  • Health
  • Architecture/media studies
  • Software engineering/urban sociology
  • Human-computer interaction design/cultural studies
  • Urban planning/digital media and social networking
  • Land survey
  • Bushfire science and ecology
  • Visual arts
  • Human services
  • Film and television


Evidence of impact

  • Inclusion of previous research in Building Code of Australia.
  • Subtropical Design in South East Queensland A Handbook for Planners Developers and Decision-makers (Kennedy, R). A richly illustrated printed handbook distributed to key decision-makers, and local libraries. The research outcomes set the direction or are regularly used for commercial, environmental, community or policy development in South-East Queensland, integral to Urban Land Development Authority's Interim Land Use Plans for Hamilton-Northshore UDA and Bowen Hills UDA; Cited in DIP's TOD Guidelines; has informed and been cited in BCC Built Form Review; Queensland Board for Urban Places' Charter 2011, Council of Mayors (SEQ) Next Generation Planning; Fort Lauderdale Legacy Project; Queenslad Streets Design Guidelines; Brisbane City Centre Masterplan Review; Gold Coast Rapid Transit Corridor Plan.
  • The planning, design and development site Planetizen lists Associate Professor Marcus Foth in the world's top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of urban planning and technology.
  • High impact in improving passengers facilitation at the Brisbane Airport International Terminal through design (20% of saving).
  • Extensive contributions on the history of Queensland landscape design to The Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens (Aitken and Looker).
  • Invited presentations at conferences, forums, seminars.
  • Contributed to energy efficiency provisions in the Building Code of Australia.
  • LCADesign – commercial software to support life cycle environmental impact assessment of buildings.
  • "Planning Future Electricity Grids: Renewables" project - potential $750m savings to Ergon through delayed and redirected capital expenditure.
  • Evaluating effectiveness and sustainability initiatives: The "Living Smart Homes" initiative.
  • Retrofitting commercial office buildings for sustainability: Tenants' perspectives.
  • Low energy/acoustically sound apartment design for transport corridors.
  • Development and testing of innovative technologies:
    • History Lines Google Map mash-up application
    • City Flocks mobile phone application
    • Bluetracker public screen application
    • Discussions in Space hybrid mobile phone and public screen application
    • DispoMaps iPhone app
    • FixVegas iPhone app
    • Capital Music iOS app
    • PlaceTags QR code hybrid (web/physical) installation
    • YourScreen (YouTube jukebox)
  • Intuitive Interaction: Understanding older users' interaction with complex systems; outcome: tool to assist designers when designing for older users.
  • Passengers' experiences at the airports including the research of security screening point and modelling passengers' experiences.
  • Design-led research into sustainable habitations in biodiverse bushfire prone landscapes.
  • Conservation management studies.
  • Delivering solutions to sustainability supporting the transformation of the fashion industry through design, engagement and business models.
  • The Stitchery Collective, which is a fashion design cooperative that pilots innovative models of fashion practice to test design for sustainability.


  • Commercialised software – LCADesign
  • Conservation management practice (Brisbane City Council – Old Botanic Gardens; and Dept of Public Works [Project services] Government House Grounds, Paddington

Research enquiries

Creative Industries Research

Research degree enquiries

Creative Industries - postgraduate research enquiries