To be the preferred centre of built environment industry originated research on the African continent.


To engender innovation, and contribute to the development, transformation, global competitiveness, and sustainability of the built environment and society at large, facilitate industry originated research alongside learning of industry sponsored MSc and PhD candidates, and engage in extensive collaboration with other research institutes regionally, nationally, and internationally.


The Centre is housed in the School of the Built Environment on the North Campus of Nelson Mandela University. The university is located in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

Objectives and functions

The purpose of the Centre is to contribute to the creation of new research and materials development, to take advantage of research opportunities within the built environment and facilitate knowledge transfer to and from the built environment professionals through research enterprise.

The objectives include:

  • To identify built environment challenges, ‘research gaps’, and research opportunities that require attention in terms of research and development;
  • To provide opportunities for practicing professionals to conduct applied research at MSc and PhD level with a view to finding solutions to problems in their immediate work environment (Professional Doctorates);
  • Conduct contract research and produce outputs tailored to specific needs of our Built Environment industry stakeholders;
  • Promote and contribute to the development of built environment specific legislation, regulations, standards, guidelines, and practice notes in Africa;
  • Brand the Mandela University as a centre of built environment research excellence; and
  • Expand built environment research capacity through the harnessing of multi-disciplinary research competencies in the School, Faculty and University.

Research Focus Areas

The centre is currently engaged in research focused on 3D printing, materials science, drones, robotics, digital construction including building information modelling (BIM), smart and net-zero carbon buildings as well as Industry 4.0 implications for health & safety and occupational health within the construction sector. In addition, research is addressing lean in construction and the improvement in human settlements, including research on waste management and smart cities. A focus on property development and the economics of the built environment in an African context are areas the centre is to pursue further.


Contact information
Mr Christopher Allen
Head of Department
Tel: 27 41 504 2155