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Why your research matters – in 120 seconds!

The journal Buildings & Cities and ARL – Academy for Spatial Development in the Leibniz-Association organized a video challenge celebrating a diversity of built environment research from PhD students in many countries and built environment disciplines. Collectively, these videos illustrate the importance and interest of emerging built environment research to civil society, politics and industry.

The theme of this video challenge was “Why it matters”. This was an opportunity to explain the significance of PhD students’ research, articulating a ‘big picture’ view of its potential contribution and impacts. The topic could be transdisciplinary in nature or be based in a specific discipline: sociology, geography, construction, engineering, facilities management, architecture, planning, real estate, urban studies, environmental design, finance, project management, business, etc.

Until the deadline (October 17th 2022), 49 PhD students submitted a video successfully. They came from 14 countries all over the world (Australia, Germany, India, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States). A jury assessed all videos, based on criteria like the clarity of the significance of the research, a clear and concise explanation, a clear narrative thread and a creative “story telling”.

Outstanding Prizes (600 €) were awarded to:

  • Dalia Aly (University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom) for her video on “Cairo Green Spaces”. This compelling video explains the growing deterioration and loss of Cairo’s green spaces and the subsequent impacts on local people. It highlights research to address the survival and management of public parks.
  • Marta Smektala (Wrocław University of Science and Technology, Poland) for her video on “Why Balconies Matter”. This video shows how people use actually their balconies – their needs and perceptions. It highlights why balconies matter from an inhabitant perspective and will influence housing providers and architects to do better.

The videos can be watched here: https://www.buildingsandcities.org/video-challenge/gallery.html

Excellent Prizes (400 €) were awarded to:

  • Ahmad Aladawi (Loughborough University, United Kingdom) for his video on “They May Forget Us, But Never We Will!”. This video illustrates how different disciplines from health and wellbeing, civil engineering, and computer science, are collaborating with each other to create a smart home for people with dementia and their caregivers. The proposed smart home will not only enable older people and people with dementia to be more independent in their daily needs and encourage them to be more productive, and save the healthcare cost globally, but it will also be a first forward, to giving them back what they have lost.
  • Aditi Bisen (CEPT University Ahmedabad, India) for her video on “Wastewater Transitions in the Global South: Pollutant to Resource”. The video introduces the topic and context of research i.e. wastewater in and around large cities of the Global South such as Delhi. It shows how wastewater is currently seen as a pollutant, associated with environmental and social problems. It then shows how this wastewater could possibly transition to a resource. 
  • Anna Conzatti (University of Bath, United Kingdom) for her video on “Improving Shelter Design for Saving Lives”. In this video, Anna shows how to improving shelter design will improve the living conditions of millions of displaced people. This video helps to explore the importance of improving shelter design to enhance ventilation and indoor air. Moreover, it explains why developing a digital tool that can inform shelter design on natural ventilation and indoor air quality can save lives.
  • Vera Götze (University of Bern, Switzerland) for her video on “Why It Matters: Comparing Patterns of Densification”. This video compares densification in different regions (what housing types are provided, where, and for whom) and shows examples of where these adverse effects were prevented. This helps to understand how stakeholders and institutions shape urban development and under which conditions densification is possible while preserving urban quality of life for all.
  • Kadir Kuru (Istanbul Technical University, Turkey) for his video on “Model Proposal for Effective Risk Management in Public Private Partnerships”. This video defines the Public Private Partnership model shortly and explains its importance for 8 billion people in the World. Then, by showing the market size for infrastructure projects it emphasizes the importance of risk management for them. Tools and techniques are shown as causes for weak risk management. It promotes the development and testing of a management tool for a better Public Private Partnership risk management.
  • Jonna Ljunge (Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway) for her video on “Aggregates: The Hidden Foundation of Our Modern Society”. It is about aggregates as the most extracted solid materials in the world due to their extensive use in many of our typical construction materials such as asphalt and concrete. In the video, Jonna shows a group of materials that quite literally provide the foundation of our modern society and learn why mapping and analyzing how they travel through our economy matters to the sustainability of both current and future generations.
  • Freya Wise (Open University, United Kingdom) for her video on “Realistically Reducing Carbon While Retaining Heritage in Residential Buildings”. She uses Playmobil figures to tell that we need a more holistic approach to retrofitting our heritage buildings which acknowledges the interaction between residents and their buildings. It is explained why we need to recognise residents’ values, engage with their behaviours, use better modelling tools, and assess lifecycle impacts.

The videos can be watched here: https://www.buildingsandcities.org/video-challenge/gallery.html

We thank our colleagues Vanessa Castán Broto, Rick Diamond, Michael Donn, Andreas Klee, Richard Lorch, Rajan Rawal and Chiara Tagliaro for their participation as judges in this challenge.

In addition to the nine judges’ prizes, there was a People’s Vote. We received over 2200 votes from 59 countries. The highest rating was for the video “How Can QUB Keep Us On Track for Net Zero?” submitted by Mark Collett (Leeds Beckett University, United Kingdom). He presents QUB as a novel, rapid measurement technique that can measure the whole house fabric performance overnight. Through measuring the thermal response of the building to consecutive heat up and cool down periods the whole building fabric performance can be calculated. The video can be watched here: https://www.buildingsandcities.org/video-challenge/gallery.html

We thank all participants of the 2022 video challenge for their ideas, work and effort.