Work Package 3

Ethics of research 


Work package 3 - Ethics of Urban Research Practice, aims to develop a situated ethics approach that supports knowledge co-production for urban equality. This approach is conceptually-driven, theoretically-informed, practice-led, action-orientated, relational, dialogic and participatory. It will be developed in the light of the current debates relating to ethics of urban research and planning with specific focus on urban inequalities.


'Practising Ethical Research in the Urban Global South' (2015)


Watch now 'Practising Ethical Research in the Urban Global South' (2015), a film made in 2015 by DPU researchers and their partners for ‘Practising Ethics’, a Bartlett-funded conference chaired by Professor Jane Rendell for the Bartlett Ethics Commission. The video was curated by Prof. Adriana Allen, Dr Michael Walls and Matt Wood-Hill, and provides a good spring board for the work of WP3. 


Through a series of interviews with colleagues in Ethiopia, India, Tanzania, Peru and Bolivia, various challenges are raised, specifically: relationships between researchers and participants; interpersonal sensitivities; the wider consequences of ethical practice beyond research, and how to build ethics into work. 

Ethics in the Built Environment 

The Bartlett Ethics Commission seeks to develop an understanding of the sensitivities of ethical issues in built environment research and professional practice.

The Bartlett Ethics Commission is led by Professor Jane Rendell, Director of Architectural Research (2004-11) and Vice Dean Research for the Bartlett (2010-13), and Dr David Roberts, Bartlett Ethics Fellow. It brings together researchers and practitioners from across The Bartlett and UCL with collective expertise in action-based, humanities, participatory, practice-led, social science and science methods. 

The Commission expands understanding, raises awareness and collectively develops approaches of ethical practice targeted to the methodologies chosen by built environment researchers and practitioners and their relation to disciplinary specificities and institutional settings. 

Site Writing as Critical Practice. Reflections and readings from Jane Rendell. 


As well as supporting practice-led research, I understand research as a form of practice, and writing to play a core role in that practice. In 2004, as Director of Architectural Research at the Bartlett, part of my role was to create an institutional environment and culture that supported designers in submitting their projects as research for the RAE2008. I wrote a paper for ARQ – ‘Architectural Research and Disciplinarity’ – reflecting on how design is a form of architectural research, and how design as one kind of practice-led research relates to the other humanities-based, social scientific and scientific methodologies used in other built environment disciplines.


In my own work as an art/architectural/urban critic, historian and theorist, I argue that since critical writing takes place somewhere, it also needs to be grasped as a type of critical spatial practice. The desire to work with variations in voice to reflect and create spatial distances and proximities between works and texts, subjects and objects, writers and readers, became the motivation for Site-Writing, a collection of essays and documentations of essays and text-works produced between 1998 and 2008 which question and perform notions of situatedness and spatiality in critical writing. I summarised this work for two edited collections published by Ashgate in 2013, in ‘A Way with Words: Feminists Writing Architectural Design Research’, for Murray Fraser’s Architectural Design Research, I highlighted writing as a form of feminist critical spatial practice, and in ‘The Siting of Writing, and the Writing of Sites’, for Matthew Carmona’s Explorations in Urban Design, I looked at a range of work produced by MA and PhD students who take my site-writing module, which redefines how theory is taught through an experimental and improvised practice-led approach that I call site-writing.. 


Lead Co-Investigator WP3

Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL 

Research Fellow WP3

Bartlett School of

Architecture, UCL 

city connections

Copyright © 2019 - Knowledge in Action for Urban Equality (KNOW) | London

  • @UrbanKnow
  • @Urban_Know
  • UrbanKnowBlog
  • @UrbanKnow
  • @Urban_Know
  • Urban Know Blog
  • UrbanKnow Vimeo