UCL Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering


Emerging TOGETHER Science for Efficient Buildings project

Initiating academic cooperation in order to develop a new approach to building design based on complex systems methods.

IEDELearn Lecture

30 November 2016

Key facts

  • Funding Body/Client: Bartlett Grand Challenges Small Grant Scheme
  • Project Partners: UCL Energy Institute, UCL Department of Civil and Geomatic Engineering, UCL Department of Mathematics
  • Total Project Value: £5,000 
  • UCL/IEDE Project Value Share: £5,000 
  • Duration: 2012
  • Status: Complete

Collaborating across four UCL departments (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies; the Energy Institute; Mathematics; and Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering), the TOGETHER project intends to initiate academic cooperation in order to develop a new approach to building design based on complex systems methods.

Such an approach has potential to transform building design practices that are too often fragmented, inefficient and fail to meet performance targets, even for basic building functions.

Complex systems methods have been shown in other fields to be a useful framework for managing large and multi-component engineering projects with multiple system functions, but have not yet been taken up widely in building design and construction.


PI: Ljiljana Marjanovic-Halburd 

Co-Is: Steven Bishop, Phillipe Duffour, Sophia Psarra and Catalina Spataru  

R: Peter Baudains 


The series of three workshops was organised during the period of October-November 2012: the Safe Buildings workshop was in 1st of October, the Social Buildings workshop on 15th of October and the Resource Efficient Buildings workshop and on 30th of October. The workshops were in the form of the presentations followed by a working lunch providing a sandpit like opportunity for a smaller group of people to brainstorm.  These 3 workshops attracted around 40 participants from across UCL and other UK universities. A journal paper based on the work undertaken for this project has been published:

Baudains, P., Bishop, S., Duffour, P., Marjanovic-Halburd, Lj.,, Psarra, S., Spataru, C. (2014) “A systems paradigm for integrated building design”, Intelligent Buildings International 


One of the main global concerns surrounding buildings is their carbon footprint and UCL is one of the leading research institutions in the field. Equally UCL is one of the leading research institutions in the fields of space syntax and buildings resilience to natural disasters. However, these research efforts could be combined much better than present. There is no commonly defined set of variables at the system level which would allow the independent research results plug-in at the system level. The research done on this area is limited by methodological and inter-disciplinary fragmentation, being restricted in scope, predominantly incremental and of limited practical use.

There are significant discrepancies between model predictions and field trials data. Validation plays an important role in order to understand how to improve buildings and to inform the Government to formulate policies with enough adequate information. By questioning existing approaches in building design and putting forward new ways of engaging with existing problems, the findings should allow a radical new approach to modelling of any building function. 


For further information please contact: Ljiljana Marjanovic-Halburd