Material Innovation & Research

White Design's research service has emerged in two ways: firstly we aim to continuously inform our design and consultancy skills by developing a greater understanding of our field; and secondly we are committed to answering more fully our clients' questions about the way our buildings work and how we might aspire to continuously improve their performance. Increasingly, research has become a service we can offer in its own right in order to contribute to the development of thought and knowledge at an industry-wide level, through government and private sector-funded programmes. 

We are developing expertise in analysing the carbon footprints of our buildings, component by component, both as a tool for informing clients and building users about construction and its environmental impact, and as a way to 'practise what we preach’ in delivering low embodied energy buildings.

In 2009 White Design was one of three practices to be awarded a research commission by TRADA (Timber Research and Development Association) through its 75th anniversary competition. We will be exploring the thermal mass properties of solid timber construction in an ambitious project bringing together experts in microbiology, design and thermal modelling.

White Design is also part of the team contributing to an innovative research programme at the University of Bath's BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials. We have helped to design and build a two storey BaleHaus™ on the university campus, using ModCell™  prefabricated straw bale cladding panels. The research team will be assessing straw bales and hemp as building materials to establish how they could be used more widely for in the housing sector.

White Design has worked collaboratively with several academic institutions and in particular with the University of the West of England, where a Research Fellow worked collaboratively with the University over a 12 month period in 2009-2010 to help interpret and document White Design's approach to sustainable design. The project enabled us to build on knowledge within the practice, as well as helping to  disseminate innovation and learning to a wider audience.

Major research projects


  • M4i case studies: VELUX HQ and UWE studio, 2006
  • dti ModCell, 2006 - 2008
  • Portland Quarry Sculpture Trust MIST programme, 2008Carbon Connections BaleHaus, 2008
  • TRADA 75th anniversary research award: thermal mass properties of solid timber construction, 2009
  • Technology Strategy Board (TSB) 'Retrofit for the Future' competition-winning research project, 2009
  • TSB ModCell BaleHaus (with BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials, Bath University), 2009 - 2010