Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Enhancing public understanding of architecture

Palladian Bridge, Prior Park


Architectural history is popular with both academic and public audiences. The UK is rich with historic buildings and landscapes that provide educational and social benefits to visitors from the UK and worldwide.

Their research project… is already paying dividends, and has, I believe, begun to change the way that the Trust thinks about the uses of new digital computing technologies.

— Head Curator,
National Trust

REF submission

This research was part of our REF 2014 submission for Architecture, Built Environment and Planning.

Preservation is key to maintaining our historic environment and without it we could lose some of our most treasured architecture. Increasing public understanding of architecture could encourage more visitors to these sites and raise the awareness needed to ensure that our historic buildings are preserved for the enjoyment of generations to come.


Over the past twenty years, researchers in our Centre for Advanced Studies in Architecture (CASA) have worked closely with organisations and charities to increase public interest in architectural history both locally and internationally.

They have played a lead role in pioneering research into the application of Computer Aided Design techniques (originally developed for architectural design practitioners) to construct innovative models that visualise and analyse important historic buildings and rural and urban landscapes.

Our researchers have created models including Serlio’s Renaissance stage, Soane’s Bank of England and Napoleon’s coronation route. They have also collaborated with the charities National Trust and Bath Preservation Trust on visualisation projects of Prior Park and Beckford’s Tower in Bath.



Benefits and outcomes

These innovative computer models have been published in academic and popular monographs, and displayed in well-attended public exhibitions and lectures in Europe and America.

Our research has led to a better understanding of historic architecture and landscapes as well as providing a platform to share architectural history with a wider audience in an engaging way. The result of this is an increase in public interest in the history and meaning of buildings and landscapes, which will help to highlight the need for preservation and secure the future of our historic environment.