Design has power. It is the ultimate interdisciplinary enabler.

Design research allows us to question prevailing approaches and inspire new ones, demonstrating not just what could be plausible in the near future but why it might be preferable.

ImaginationLancaster – Lancaster University’s design and architecture research lab – creates a uniquely powerful socio-technical bridge between academic disciplines, industry, society, and policy. Directly, and through collaboration, our research contributes to a healthier, more prosperous, and sustainable world.

Join us at the Festival of Futures as Imagination and our partners showcase and explore the transformative power of design research, the difference we have made and how we can collaboratively design for a better tomorrow.

The future is a work in progress exhibition

Glimpse possible futures of designing for a world in constant flux. An exhibition of cutting-edge interdisciplinary design research from four design-research centres of excellence across the UK. Participants can experience the exhibition as part of this event with exhibits from:

The full programme is below and you can read speaker bios here.

Registrations are now closed for this event.

Imagination now & next
Friday 8th March, LICA Building, Lancaster University


09.00 – Registration and refreshments

09.30 – Welcome and opening talks

Professor Nick Dunn, Executive Director of ImaginationLancaster and Chair of Urban Design.

Professor Edward Simpson, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

Mark Davies, Chief Executive, Lancaster City Council.

09.50 – Sustainable Futures


Violet Owen, Senior Research Associate, Fixing the Future, PhD Student presenting Fixing the Future. A project supporting the transition to localised, sustainable IoT device repair ecosystems to combat growing environmental issues such as electronic waste. With partner Thomas McPherson-Pope, Director at The Making Rooms, Blackburn.

Dr Ana Costa, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, Lancaster University presenting Accelerating Material Re-Use in Construction – a project that aims to accelerate the re-use of building materials, by proposing building deconstruction rather than demolition through using ‘material passports’. – a project that aims to accelerate the re-use of building materials, by proposing building deconstruction rather than demolition through using ‘material passports’. Ana will be joined by Georgia Whitehouse from Bluefield Partners LLP to discuss the use of Materials Passports to inform end of life renewable assets decisions.

Responder: Professor Richard Brook, Director of Research, Lancaster School of Architecture.

10.40 – Future Environments


Dr Rupert Griffiths, Research Associate at ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University presenting Sensing the Luminous Night – Innovations in capturing and communicating observations of light pollution in an area of outstanding natural beauty. In partnership with Leighton Moss RSPB Nature Reserve. Lorayne Wall, Planning Officer for Friends of the Lake District who will discuss experiences of campaigning for dark skies and good lighting through planning and policy approaches, across Cumbria and beyond.

Dr Naomi Jacobs, Lecturer in Design Policy and Futures Thinking. Presenting P-PITEE which developed new policies for transparent and ethical deployment of secure Internet of Things sensors in public spaces. With Jez Bebbington, Partnership Development Manager, NHS, Lancaster University (formerly Executive Support Manager at Lancaster City Council).

Responder: Susanna Dart, Climate Change Policy Officer, Lancaster City Council.

11.30 – Break and refreshments

11.50 – Digital Futures


Dr Joe Lindley, Senior Research Fellow at Lancaster University and holder of the UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship. Presenting Ryelands AI Lab: a collaboration with a Lancaster Primary School on generative Artificial intelligence through hands-on engagement with Rhiannon Sharkey and David Grist from Ryelands Primary School.

Kim Snooks, Senior Research Associate, Design for Digital Good, PhD student. Presenting the ESRC Digital Good Network, a project ensuring digital technologies are for the greater good with partner Dr Rhianne Jones, Research lead for Responsible Innovation, BBC R&D. 

Responder: Dr Dan Richards, Lecturer in Data Prototyping and Visualisation, Lancaster University.

12.40 – Reflections and wrap up

Prof. Rachel Cooper, OBE, Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy and Director of ImaginationLancaster.

13:00 – Lunch, conversation and exhibition viewing

14:30 – Close

Festival of Futures

The Festival of Futures is the culmination of the £13.2M Beyond Imagination Project funded by Research England and Lancaster University demonstrating how cutting-edge design research can contribute to a healthier, more prosperous and sustainable world.