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A taster of RIBA's research department

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Peter Carolin (Letters, AJ 7.4.05) asks to be told about the work of the one-year-old RIBA research and development committee and department. We have a prioritised work plan and the following is a just a taste.

We have not reached a perfect balance yet and while much of the policy and background work is related to the academic, as yet most of the project involvement is related to applied research. We hope in the coming months to have more involvement in more academic-led research projects.

We make responses on research issues on behalf of the RIBA and cover liaison and representation on research issues with other bodies such as the Standing Conference of Heads of Schools of Architecture, CABE and BRE.

We have a major symposium, Design as Research, planned for 3 October at the RIBA.

While one can always argue about funding - how much and where to - there is an awful lot of research going on that few get to hear about and which doesn't get the chance to come together with complementary work from elsewhere. We have not made much impression on this issue yet, but with the help of RIBA Enterprises and the BRE (and maybe others later) we are just starting a major effort to tackle this 'matchmaking' issue.

We are keen that what we do on the applied side contributes to useable outcomes. A good example of this is our contribution into the feedback database work led by engineer Bill Bordass that has created the website www. usablebuildings. co. uk.

This in turn informs the revamping of Stage M in the RIBA Plan of Work. We are equally keen to help demonstrate, in perhaps a more digestible form than truly academic papers do, how academic architectural research in the UK is leading-edge and agenda-setting stuff.

To read more about the R&D committee and department, visit www. architecture. com and scroll to the bottom to a 'quicklink'.

Keith Snook, RIBA director of research and development

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