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Elanor Warwick

Dr Elanor Warwick’s career spans architecture, urban design, and academic research, aiming to provide the evidence to shape national housing policy and embed good practice. She is Head of Strategic Policy and Research for Clarion Housing Group, one of England’s largest Housing Associations where she is responsible for investigating affordable housing and occupants. Previously Head of Research at CABE, she managed a diverse research programme across all sectors of the built environment and design process. Her research interests and publications cover estate regeneration, housing quality, new towns, Lifetime Neighbourhoods and measuring intangibles such as good design, wellbeing and social value. She has managed research for GLA, Innovate UK and She is a postgrad supervisor at the Bartlett UCL and Cambridge University, currently teaching housing to planners. Elanor is a member of the Edge, the Academy of Urbanism, an Urban Design London ‘Wise Friend’, a Design Council Built Environment Expert and an Urbanista.


Participation in structured courses (RMT, TS)


Participation in network activities (Workshops, Summer Schools, Conferences, Secondments)

Reading Summer schools


Summer School 3: Innovations on affordable and sustainable housing



Recent entries

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RE- DWELL from the viewpoint of industry

Posted on 25-10-2022

The gap between academic and real world activities can seem wide, particularly for Early Stage Researchers (ESRs). While university research projects are always aiming for impact, demonstrating that research activity has been taken up, and made a beneficial contribution to society, the economy or the environment, it’s often hard to engage with those stakeholders that might make use of findings or experience the benefits.  As a very large national housing association Clarion is typical of social housing stakeholders; coming up with a multitude of potential research questions, having ongoing need for evidence to support decision-making strategy and policy, but so focused on delivery that there is little time for deep reflection.      Personally, I’ve benefited from working as a built environment researcher across domains (in academia, on government policy making, as well as a practicing architect) before heading up Clarion’s strategy, policy and research team. After working for 20 years, I took a career break to undertake a PhD investigating a housing related topic that had been troubling me for almost a decade. I still use what I learned about estate regeneration in my day job at Clarion, but equally applicable is the methodological discipline and rigorous thinking that the PhD process instils. RE-DWELL is closing the research-impact gap, providing a model to replicate an accelerated version of this iterative loop of real-world experience prompting highly valid questions, resulting in purposeful research, which can rapidly shape actions and improvement.    The trans-disciplinary, cross-subject ambition of the RE-DWELL programme is broad. The core topic, sustainable affordable housing across the European context, could provide the starting point for numerous PhDs.  The summaries here don’t do justice to the richness of the themes and ideas being explored, or the interconnections being made. Housing is a complex system with many stakeholders, each with particular views, motivations and fields of activity. RE-DWELL echoes this though the diversity of its partners.  It’s this mix of organisations that is offering both the diversity of academic of expertise and practical contexts.  The RE-DWELL network has reach; I’ve encountered RE-DWELL colleagues in unexpected circumstances (bumping into Pere Picorelli from Institut Català del Sòl at a UN Habitat Session in Bilbao). Knowing a few of the partner organisations well gave Clarion confidence to get involved in the consortium bid, and the RE-DWELL experience has already strengthened these existing relationships with EFL, Housing Europe and University of Reading. But all of the participants are bringing something to the partnership, and I’m looking forward to ongoing work across the consortium.    If the RE-DWELL family is establishing useful international professional contacts, the value of individuals coming together is also a huge advantage for the ESRs. Doing a PhD can be a very lonely journey. The RE-DWELL cohort are a sociable, supportive group of young collaborators, with backgrounds in different disciplines and nationalities, with different skills and viewpoints.  All the students can call on this emerging body of knowledge. Being located in a new country gives objectivity to the process of learning to draw comparisons and transferable lessons from distinct national contexts but with the support of colleagues who have greater familiarity of the local idiosyncrasies. The workshop at the International Festival of Housing in Helsinki was a practical example of this collaborative relationship.  A subset of the ESRs devised a realistically plausible urban regeneration scenario, and professionally facilitated the session to be engaging for all the participants, and to extract valuable insights from the attendees.  The opportunity to practice these kinds of skills, working together is invaluable and enhances future employability.    Consultancy or organisation based research can be characterised as impatient, requiring rapid answers to  immediate problems,  compared to the three years focus of a PhD.  Selecting just two issues to focus on from the broad list of ideas initially suggested in the bid on involved Clarion in a degree of casting forward for what might be the timeliest subjects. However, we need not have worried, Clarion would have learnt something useful from any of the topics proposed in the bid, and the two ESRs we have seconded to us have been flexible and intellectually open to the business’s ideas. Having met more of the ESRs  I’m certain we’d have had a similar positive experience with any of the fifteen,  due to the excellent recruitment process.   Secondments are intense, and have required careful preparation by the hosts, especially if the ESR is to grasp an organisation as complicated and sprawling as Clarion in a few short months. Both experienced a taste of the practical constraints experienced working in a housing association. Tijn arrived during lockdown when our offices were deserted, but quickly reached out, visiting homes undergoing retrofit, meeting work colleagues and residents.  Well in advance of his time with us, Leonardo met Clarion staff to explore research opportunities, and as typical in housing and regeneration, plans for schemes altered, so our research plans has evolved. Both have been hard-working, engaged and curious about Clarion. It’s been stimulating for myself and colleagues to host and engage with them.  Investing time as industry partners has been worthwhile, we bring alternative viewpoints to their academic supervisors.  All knowledge transfer partnerships are two-way exercises, balancing the academic needs of the students with the business drivers. We certainly don’t see this a ‘free consultancy’ and so far the secondments have been joint journeys of discovery.   Alongside the normal tasks expected of a PhD, the RE-DWELL training programme is extensive; while valuable these commitments form almost an additional workstream.  Having referred to them myself I can see how the case studies of housing schemes and the vocabulary is developing a shared set of precedents which will be a resource for professionals and students alike.  The complexity and pace of the programme is successful only because of the behind the scenes administration activities/ coordination. As with the secondments, extensive pre-work is needed to ensure everything at the summer school or other events runs smoothly. Attendance at the international workshops with the practicalities of traveling complicated by the pandemic has been eased by hybrid online participation, but not lessened the attraction of coming together and meeting in person.  The main appeal of RE-DWELL was as a way of bring new thinking into Clarion. So far, short reports and presentations to Clarion staff have piqued their curiosity about the other studies underway. The principal outputs are rightly focused on rigorous academic papers, and the PhDs themselves, but the blogs, website articles, social medial activity all add to the cloud of soft impact.  All which returns to the long tail of impact that RE-DWELL should have.    Two years into what already is a valuable well-established international network, RE-DWELL is providing a fast track introduction to the social housing sector, and a unique opportunity to understand its diversity, the practical challenges but also the opportunities it presents. Yet the true value and benefit - RE-DWELL’s wider legacy - will emerge over years or decades as the careers of the ERS’ mature. I’m confident the programme will exceed its ambitions, with the ESRs successfully awarded their PhDs for influential and rigorous studies, and that it may also entice knowledgeable, thoughtful practitioners into the social housing sector to make it their lifelong career.




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