Professor Peter Downton


Emeritus Professor

School /
Work Unit

Architecture & Design

Contact Details

+61 3 9925 3555


Building: 100
Level: 02
Room: 005

City campus


College of Design and Social Context

Peter Downton

Key activities

Peter is Professor of Design Research. He is part of two teams conducting research funded through Australian Research Council Discovery Grants and is also involved in other research groupings within the Design Research Institute. These projects are vehicles for inquiries into the ways design is undertaken in different fields and the relations of people to their designed environments. Much of this is practice-based research. He has examined practice-based designing and making as both an observer and as a maker. His research has been disseminated in books, book chapters and conference papers.

Recently, Peter has taught undergraduate design studios and a research seminar for postgraduate students. He supervises PhDs from each of the School’s discipline areas – many of these candidates are engaged in transdisciplinary practices. He is also engaged in helping others develop their supervisory and research abilities.


BArch, MArch, PhD (Melb), Reg’d Architect (Non-practicing)

Research and scholarship

Current ARC Discovery Grants:

Spatial Knowledge and the Built Environment: The Design Implications of Making, Processing and Digitally Prototyping Architectural Models with Prof Mark Burry, Prof Michael Ostwald (University of Newcastle), A/Prof Andrea Mina and Ms Alison Fairley.

Teimu (The Garden of Dreams): aural and aesthetic attributes of Japanese gardens as models for spatial environments with Mr Lawrence Harvey, Dr Gregory Missingham (University of Melbourne), Dr Alex Selenitsch (University of Melbourne), and Dr Michael Fowler.

Selected Books:

Peter Downton, Design Research, RMIT Press, 2003

Peter Downton, Studies in Design Research: ten epistemological pavilions, RMIT Press, 2004

Mark Burry, Michael Ostwald, Peter Downton and Andrea Mina. eds. Homo Faber: Modelling Architecture, Archadia Press, Sydney, 2007.

Recent Book Chapters:

Peter Downton, ‘Ways of Constructing: Epistemic, Temporal and Productive Aspects of Design Research’, in Elizabeth Grierson and Laura Brearley (eds), Creative Arts Research: Narratives of Methodologies and Practices, Rotterdam, Sense Publishers (forthcoming)

Peter Downton, ‘The Referential, the Speculative and the Projective: attributes of models in architectural inquiry’, in Michael Ostwald, Chris Tucker and Michael Chapman, Residue: Architecture as a Condition of Loss, Melbourne: RMIT University Press, 2007.

Recent Conference Paper:

Peter Downton, ‘Maps of what might be: a dozen works on ideas and possibilities’, Cartography and Art-Art and Cartography Symposium, Vienna, 2008.

Current supervision:

10 PhDs as senior supervisor and 4 PhDs and one masters degree as second supervisor. Successful completions since 2000: 7 PhDs as senior supervisor, 2 PhDs as second supervisor and 3 masters degrees.