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Transforming Homes Consortium – how seed funding can help collaborations blossom

Professor Jo Patterson
Professor Jo Patterson
Director of Research at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University

Transforming Homes Consortium – how seed funding can help collaborations blossom

Professor Jo Patterson, Director of Research at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University and Co-Director of Transforming Housing and Homes for Future Generations writes about her experience of presenting at the GW4 Roadshow to share with colleagues how GW4 collaboration and seed funding was crucial in developing networks and securing a £4.6 million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).


On Thursday May 9th, in Cardiff, GW4 hosted the last of their Roadshows that they have taken around all four GW4 Universities, an alliance of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. The roadshows aimed to provide informative and engaging sessions, where attendees could learn more about GW4’s strategic priorities, programmes of work, funding schemes and the audience groups they work with and support.

Professor Roger Whittaker, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Enterprise at Cardiff University, spoke about the complementary strategic visions of Cardiff University and the GW4 Alliance, highlighting the benefits of collaboration. GW4 Director, Dr Joanna Jenkinson, provided an overview of GW4's programmes of work and opportunities for staff and PGRs, along with their four research priority themes: Sustainable Net Zero, Health and Wellbeing, Cyber and Digital and Creative Communities.

I had the opportunity to present the journey of the Transforming Homes consortium, detailing how a network grant from GW4 influenced the project's development development.

Research in low carbon built environments (led by Jo Patterson) and design (led by Steve Coombs) has been taking place at the Welsh School of Architecture for over 15 years, where collaborating closely with a wide range of stakeholders to provide evidence needed to make informed decisions towards achieving Net Zero whilst providing high quality built environment has been at the heart of our work.

Steve Coombs was also part of the GW4 Circular Economy of Timber Buildings Building Communities Generator Award, led by Eleni Toumpanaki, which ran from June to November 2022. This network had key input from the materials team at Bath University as well as other colleagues across Cardiff and Bath. It provided an opportunity to develop networks with external stakeholders through a series of workshops focused on the benefits of using timber in construction through its lifecycle.

When the AHRC Green Transitions Ecosystems call was announced in January 2023, it seemed natural to combine and enhance our two well-developed research areas to advance from 'retrofit' to 'transformation', with a focus of co-design involving design, materials, technologies and people at the core. With the application deadline in March 2023, we already had a well-developed consortium with a clear focal point, putting us in a strong position to move quickly and identifying areas of expertise that would strengthen our proposal. We were all a bit surprised in July 2023 to learn that our application was successful, but we embraced the challenge of utilising the £4.6m grant. We are now working closely together to deliver outcomes that will provide evidence to help transform housing for future generations.

At the GW4 Roadshow event, other collaborations supported by GW4 were also represented including the South Wales and South-West Mental Health Platform Research Hub, led by Professor James Walters, the Island of Ireland Contemporary History & Politics network led by Dr Thomas Leahy and Director of University Library Services, Tracey Stanley. Over 80 staff members from various departments across Cardiff University attended the event, and feedback has been extremely positive.

Further Reading

University of Bath
University of Bristol
Cardiff University
University of Exeter