Professor Jeremy Till, Dean of the School of Architecture and the Built Environment (SABE), will work with two other leading European universities to investigate how scarcity might affect creativity – and how design-led innovation can improve the built environment in the future.
As well as Westminster, the Oslo School of Architecture and Design and the Vienna University of Technology will take part in the SCRIBE (Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment) project, which is funded by the European Union’s HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area) Joint Research Programme.
Professor Till said: “Human existence has in the past appeared to be a struggle between scarcity and abundance – but although scarcity regulates action and behaviour, this may not necessarily be in a negative manner.
“Our research will start with two premises: the first will be that resources are necessarily limited, the second that human well-being can still flourish within these limits.
“Where human well-being in western society is usually tied to notions of abundance and growth, our project, following recent work by economists such as Tim Jackson, posits that well-being might be achieved within conditions of limited resources, but that to do so one needs the intervention of new forms of creativity,” he said.
Professor Till added that the grant represented one of the largest ever awarded to SABE, and “will make a major contribution to the University’s growing research base in sustainability”.
The HERA Joint Research Programme was established to help "create collaborative, trans-national research opportunities that will derive new insights from humanities research addressing major social, cultural, and political challenges facing Europe".
In January 2009, the programme partners launched a joint call for transnational collaborative research projects in two humanities research areas: Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity and Humanities as a Source of Creativity and Innovation.
The first round of the competition for the funds involved more than 160 research teams across Europe, of which 55 were chosen to participate in the second round. Of those 55 projects, 19 were selected, among them the SCRIBE project.