Research Projects

Medellín Urban Innovation research project

Medellín Urban Innovation (MUI) is a two-year research collaboration between academic and non-academic institutions in the United Kingdom and Colombia. The project has received a Newton Institutional Links Grant from the British Council. MUI focuses on researching to what extent urban innovation in Medellín (Colombia) has helped increase social equity and well-being in the city.

This project is led by Dr Soledad Garcia Ferrari, a Senior Lecturer at Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at the University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Dr Harry Smith, Associate Professor at the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Building Design at Heriot-Watt University.

For more information, please visit the MUI website or follow the project on X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram.

Dr Harry Smith shares his impressions of the Northeastern Urban Integration Project in Medellín (Proyecto Urbano Integral, or PUI). Please note: this video is in Spanish.

The Centre for Environment and Human Settlements (CEHS)

CEHS is based in the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society, permitting its core staff a range of interaction with other planners, housing specialists, architects, engineers, building scientists and construction managers. CEHS members have extensive international experience and undertake research in their geographic areas of interest in the Global South on a regular basis, which contributes to their teaching and training inputs. The collection of publications built up by CEHS in the Heriot-Watt University library over the past 30+ years is extensive and unique in Scotland. In addition Edinburgh offers a wide range of other libraries and information, including one of the two National Libraries in the United Kingdom. CEHS was created in the School of Planning and Housing (SPH) at Edinburgh College of Art (eca) in 1990, carrying on the tradition of circa 25 years previous postgraduate teaching and research work in the then called ‘developing world' in Edinburgh University's Department of Town and Country Planning EU-TCP (which closed at that time). Prior to transfer of SPH-eca to the School of the Built Environment in mid 2002, activities within CEHS were diversified under new leadership to include dedicated training programmes, external research funding and knowledge transfer activities. In recent years the internationally oriented teaching within planning has been incorporated within the 12 month MSC Urban & Regional Planning and CEHS operates primarily as a research group, although it continues to provide dedicated training and information resources, oriented to overseas demand. The wide disciplinary and professional background of the members of CEHS (architecture, geography, planning, construction, urban social studies) permit the group to operate in a highly inter-disciplinary manner, and this has led to increasing research activities in the North as well as the South – especially in areas associated with governance/participation and design. This is also reflected in the teaching commitments of the staff which range from international focussed modules such as ‘Globalisation, Urbanisation and Planning' & ‘Shelter & Settlements Planning' through ‘Governance and Participation/ Community Planning', ‘Urban Design' and ‘Critical Studies' to ‘Research Methods'. Key current and recent research projects in the Global South have been undertaken in Africa, East Asia and Latin America, addressing the following topics:

  • Urban Management
  • Urban Development
  • Housing Policy

CEHS is highly active in publication. Its members have collaborated in producing a key text book and research review entitled “Housing and Planning in the Rapidly Urbanising World”, Routledge 2006. In the RAE2008 period, the three core members produced 15 refereed journal papers, 2 authored books, 31 book chapters, 18 conference papers and a number of other secondary outputs. In the current REF2013 period this momentum has been increased with some 18 refereed papers published or submitted, 1 edited book (and 2 others in preparation), 10 book chapters and 13 conference papers to date (late 2009). See individual staff pages for details: Jenkins; Wang; Smith. In addition, CEHS members engage with wider disciplinary and geographical research – including research in Scotland, the UK and Europe – and are actively involved in the coordination of other research centres, networks and groups.