Research projects

Ravensbourne currently hosts a wide range of Research Projects, from the multi-partner European Horizon 2020 project WEKIT to internally funded small grants for staff.

All of them arise from our collaborative ethos and the many interests of our colleagues, who are working in varied areas across design, communication and digital creativity. 

On these pages we are showcasing both current and historic projects that demonstrate our work. 

Data Walking

Researcher: David Hunter - Associate Senior Lecturer, Graphic Design School of Design, Department of Design Practice

Data Walking is a research project by David Hunter, with the aim of gathering environmental data while walking around a specific area, and through multiple walks over time build a rich picture of that area, a layered multidimensional ‘dataspace’. In this process, we get to explore the potential of data gathering while walking, and then experiment with visualising that data in a variety of ways. www.datawalking.com

Driverless cars (GATEway 2030)

Dr. Brigitta Zics

The winning project of GATEway 2030, Transmission Fluid by Jay Jordan

As part of an exciting collaboration between Ravensbourne, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) and Royal Borough of Greenwich, young designers showcase their visions of a re-imagined Greenwich Peninsula with the introduction of driverless cars. Ravensbourne continue in a longstanding reputation of nurturing design talent by inviting students to take inspiration from the TRL-led GATEway project to propose their own model of driverless vehicle. GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8 million funded research project based in Greenwich with the aim of helping industry and policymakers to understand the implications of automated vehicles in the urban environment.

Download full project description here: PDF

Wearable: OurOwnsKIN

Researcher: Liz Ciokajlo -  Lecturer Product Design BA (HONS)

OurOwnsKIN is a project which explores referencing human foot skin to rethink how we design for future manufactured 3D printed and grown shoes.

Historically, footwear design construction has evolved from the manipulation of the material leather, which is the skin of another animal. Manufacturing machines have evolved to automise how we hand manipulated leather materials to make shoes. As new materials such as polymers were introduced the residue of leather constructions influenced footwear design constructions.

However we are into new territories, where 3D print can construct features so fine the line between materials structure and design construction starts to blur. The project investigates if it is now useful to rethink what we reference when designing footwear. Asking the question, if we designed footwear for the first time today using all materials and technologies available whose skin would we reference as a starting point, as a system from which develop aesthetic design. We see this approach may be useful as we move to futures where we could grown materials such as leather.


Research was undertaken into the tension structures of foot skin to inspire a computation framework. Springy cells call auxetics were placed into the computation framework to address how the material and design construction can provide finer variations in fit needed in mass production. Our research only scratches the surface of the potential to customise the structure for bespoke performance application.

The dynamic research community at Ravensbourne bravely funded the initial medical desk research and the translation of this research into computation. MV works program (funded by Knowledge Transfer Network, Innovate UK and the Arts Council) funded prototyping and early computation development. Innovate UK has funded further technical and research into how best to model a sustainable design consultancy offering services of design research and services translating materials for body apparel. 

Our consultancy is called the same name as the project, OurOwnsKIN. The co directors of the consultancy are artist Rhian Solomon whose practice explores skin as a meeting point for collaborative practices between medical specialist and designers, and footwear/ 3D concept development designer Liz Ciokajlo whose focus is on materials, emerging processes and design construction. Designer Manolis Papastavrou was a leading consultant on computation and design on the project. Tom Mallinson of Digits2Wigits and designer Jason Taylor contributed to design development while working on computation files during Innovate Uk funding.

We are currently working on a research projects with Kings College London and a commision from the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art). We are publicly launching OurOwnsKIN during London Design Festival 2017.

Website: OurOwnsKIN 

Vimeo: link

Ubiquitous Wearing: Camouflage for a Virtual Landscape

Alexa Pollman, Course Leader MA Wearable Futures, Senior Lecturer BA FAD
Sabine Roth, Sessional Lecturer 
Kat Thiel, Sessional Lecturer 

Ubiquitous Wearing is one of our long term ongoing projects. Triggered by the MARPAT, a pixelated camouflage pattern used by many armed forces, we grew curious to understand the impact that virtual environments will have on our garments and the way that we will make them perform for machines rather then for humans.

We researched and analysed the look, materials and functions of camouflage patterns before we designed four alternative patterns that would not only incorporate a disguising function for enhanced vision systems such as thermo- and nightvision but would reflect on the surroundings and the landscape that influences their pattern: while the well-known woodland pattern takes its inspiration from the bark of a tree, we referenced the surveilling view of a drone using arial images as a starting point.

Each of our developed patterns reacts to a different vision system, and lastly brought us to question wether our aesthetic understanding of the world around us will soon be including factors such as temperature and motion as ingredients for design – enhancing not only our vision but the commonly used properties of colour, material and shape.

In a first iteration, we collated research and pattern-developments in form of a broadsheet publication, while the prints we developed have formed into distinct but still historically referencing materials, but will only come to full expression when viewed with a distinct imaging system:

As we are working on this project, we discover more and more intriguing factors and develop not only the reactive materials further but understand more about the overall impact of the virtual on the everyday and the human perception of others, the self and the machine as a system that will change basic human experiences and evalutaions of our surroundings.

Hence we have decided to stage the project as a participatory performance that will turn its audience in ‘Surveillor’ or ‘Surveilled’ and will engage with a rather playful though meaningful inquiry: how will human-machine interaction change our perception of the self and the body? Will we start to disguise or will we dress up for machines?

Link to website

InformForm platform

Maaike van Neck, Ravensbourne, Course Leader BA(Hons) Graphic Design 
Maria da Gandra, LCC, Senior Lecturer final year coordinator BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design.

InformForm is an international platform for information design. 

InformForm celebrates and explores both practical and theoretical experimentation within the field of design. It prides itself on showcasing relevant examples of work by students, for students.


Measuring Learning Gain from Practice and Work-based Learning Programmes

Ravensbourne Staff Involved

  • Janthia Taylor – Deputy Director
  • Nick Johnstone – Head of Planning and Policy
  • Lucy McLeod – Head of Student Services
  • Jo Barrett – Assistant Academic Registrar
  • Allison Cully – Data Analyst

Project Outline

1.1 Summary

Since 2015 Ravenbourne has participated in a programme of work run by HEFCE to pilot and evaluate a range of approaches for measuring learning gain (LG). The programme focuses on developing and testing new ways of capturing educational outcomes and analysing how students benefit from higher education. Over 70 universities and colleges have been involved, and Ravensbourne was the lead on one of 13 pilot projects in this programme.

“Learning gain can be defined and understood in a number of ways… broadly it is an attempt to measure the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development made by students during their time spent in higher education.”


1.2 Our Pilot

Our project was a collaborative project between 7 institutions, the majority of which are small institutions with specialisms in the creative industries. Our partners in the project were: -

  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • Falmouth University
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Ravensbourne (Lead)
  • Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance
  • Southampton Solent University
  • Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance


1.2 Aim

The main aim of the project was to understand the potential to measure the LG from work-based learning and work preparation activities learning as part of a course of study and the effects of these activities on employability, primarily using existing data held by partner institutions (such as DLHE, employability and work-based learning data).



The most significant outcomes arising from this project are: -

  • The development, testing and evaluation of three methodologies for assessing LG (DLHE Triangulation, DLHE plus 3 years’ and Solent Capital Compass Model).
  • The generation of a range of suggestions for future projects.
  • Findings of relevance to future assessments of LG (see conclusions below).
  • Development of lessons learned for future partnership working, particularly beneficial to small institutions.



The most significant conclusions to which the Team would draw HEFCE’s attention are that: -

  • The work of the project indicates that DLHE outcomes can valuably be cross-referenced to work-preparation activities, and indicates that there may be a causal link between participation in work preparation activities and employability outcomes;
  • The methodology developed for the DLHE Triangulation can identify widening participation students, their LG, and the contribution that work preparation makes to that;
  • The DLHE plus 3 years’ work indicates that career satisfaction and sustainability of career, longevity and professional resilience are more meaningful measures than level of job or financial reward, particularly for those subject disciplines where a career trajectory is not always clearly defined, however complex measures are required for an assessment of this;
  • The outcomes from the DLHE plus 3 years’ survey and the Solent Capital Compass Model work packages both illustrate that ‘longitudinal’ should mean multiple survey points and, indeed, suggest that LG is best measured incrementally rather than in big leaps (qualifications on entry matched to salary, for example);
  • Surveying our students at multiple points in their career is valuable and beneficial in many ways: it informs an understanding of career trajectory for disciplines, maintains alumni contact, informs Learning and Teaching, as well as work preparation, diversity, lifelong learning and social mobility policies, and gives insight into the most appropriate timing in a student’s course of study for participation in work preparation activities;
  • Clear and consistent definitions of work-based learning and work preparation activities need to be defined and held at sector level;
  • The optimal way of facilitating this analysis would be through the capture of data held on the student record;
  • The more qualitative nature of DLHE plus 3 years means that it is intensive in terms of staff time and has particular implications for small institutions with a low staff base, but the Team considers the investment worthwhile due to the richness of the data captured and various uses to which it can be put;
  • The methodologies developed from this project are considered very much in their ‘pilot’ stage but it has been established that there is significant value in capturing information on learning throughout the student’s career in HE, and beyond; there is potential to do more work improving on and linking the outcomes from the three methodologies into a ‘toolkit’ for evaluating student’s work-based learning gain over time;
  • All three work packages rely to some extent on building effective relationships with alumni, and this is done most effectively by staff working from within the relevant institution: they have an understanding of the environment in which the alumnus was working, can address institution-specific issues in their questioning and develop rapport more quickly when surveying them;
  • This project, and the learning derived from it, has been as much about working in partnership as about evaluating methodologies to assess LG.


Download full report: PDF


Film: 'Limit of the Land'

Matthew Pritchard (Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography)
Julian Hawkins (Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography)
Chris Fraser Smith (Sessional Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography)
Celine Marchbank (Sessional Lecturer, BA (Hons) Digital Photography)
Greg Loftin (Assoc. Subject Leader, BA (Hons) Editing and Post Production)
Mark Durham (Assoc. Senior Lecturer, BA (Hons) Sound Design)

A short film project by Matthew Pritchard, Julian Hawkins, Chris Frazer-Smith, Celine Marchbank, Greg Loftin and Mark Durham in collaboration with Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) and supported by Ravensbourne research.

'Limit of the Land'
‘Nothing will content them but the extremist limit of the land’ – Hermann Melville
- Old Joe and his nephew Daniel set off by boat to relieve the keeper of an isolated lighthouse. It is 1913 and a storm is coming.

Jurassic Coasts

Professor Jeremy Gardiner - Head of Department of Postgraduate Studies. School of Design, Postgraduate Studies.


Pillars of Light is the next stage in Jeremy’s ongoing research and exploration of the coastal topography of the south west of England. His paintings focus on the more famous and historically significant lighthouses in the British Isles, with the Lizard, Pendeen, Start Point and the Needles being particularly well known. The work was documented through a catalogue publication and film. A 4Kdocumentary film was produced by Edge to Edge productions. Knowledge exchange was provided by Artlyst, Art Rabbit and other online resources.


Emerging Educational Technologies


Carl Smith & Jazz Rasool - Principle Research Fellow & Research Assistant, Learning Technology Centre School of Media, Department of Content

Jazz Rasool is a Researcher and Developer at the Learning Technology Research Centre (LTRC) based at Ravensbourne. His current work involves working on two multi-million euro EU-funded projects in collaboration with academic and commercial partners from across Europe. A €2m project aims to deliver education to school children through their mobile phones. A €2.8m project is developing Virtual Reality simulations for professional training, including monitoring physiological and psychological performance during VR and AR training of Astronauts due to work at the International Space Station. 

Carl Smith is an academic and developer with over fourteen years’ experience conducting R+D into the application of advanced technologies for lifelong, work and creative learning. He has worked on multiple large-scale European FP7 and Leonardo Life Long Learning projects bringing in over £4 million in research funding. He specialises in using hybrid reality methodologies and visualisation techniques to engineer contexts for the generation and transformation of perception, behaviour and learning. His research interests include spatial methodologies, embodied cognition, field of view technologies, intermediality and human centric hybrid literacy.


1616 to 2016 Historical Panorama


Mike Smith - Associate Senior Lecturer, Animation, School of Media, Department of Content

The research inquiry asks; “How can my expertise take heritage and situate it within a changing landscape, establishing a connection with place?” This question resulted in a collaboration with the Royal Museums Greenwich in 2016 to produce an installation for a two-minute panoramic movie installation based on the 1637 panorama etched by Wenceslas Hollar, “On the banks of the Thames at Greenwich”. The installation reveals to the visitor the development of what is now the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, from the days of the Tudor and Stuart Palace of Greenwich, to the modern landscape encompassing Royal Museums Greenwich (the Queen’s House, Royal Observatory, National Maritime Museum and Cutty Sark), the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Park.


Collective Motion: The Semiosphere art-science Project


Dr Brigitta Zics - Deputy Head of Department, Postgraduate Studies, School of Design, Postgraduate Studies

Brigitta Zics is a practitioner and award-winning artist who creates works with visual and material sensitivity that seeks to fashion new experiences. She explores mixed-media forms combining various material techniques and emerging technologies. Her artistic interest embraces experiential art, speculative experiences and data objects and aesthetics.

She works on the convergence of art and science and applies technologies in order to access and extract hidden dimensions of human experience. With the aspiration to better understand ‘what makes us human?’, she creates aesthetic ecologies with speculative narrative to activate human emotion and imagination. This project asks "How to use the contemporary concept of science to create impactful and relevant
art experiences?'


Wear + Seek – Camouflage for the Virtual Landscape


Alexa Pollmann, Subject Leader – MA Wearable Futures, School of Design, Department of Fashion

Wear & Seek – Camouflage for a Virtual Landscape, presents a collection of garments and vision systems and allows the comparison of human and machine enhanced vision. Staged as performance-based installation, we present an experience-based response and investigate the impact of such technologies on the profession and the process of design. The audience is invited to immerse themselves by wearing specially designed outfits and headpieces to become part of the performance. Simultaneously, they are trained to engage with this new field of perception and offer us the chance to study possible behavioural and social challenges and opportunities.


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