Research in this area sprung from a well of discussions between the late professor of HCI – David Benyon, and Research Fellow and Interaction Design Lecturer Callum Egan. How could digital technology contribute to the health of the planet? What design methods could be developed? Where could this research grow? But mostly, how can we ecologically design our lives and the spaces we inhabit?

Some of the research themes that have grown out of conversations and debates with colleagues, partners and friends around the globe are;

Environment and bio-diversity

How do we build thriving living systems that support us?

Health, well-being, society

Re-connecting with nature for physical and mental health

Sustainable Interaction Design and Computing

How can the digital be re-made sustainable?

Artists and makers

Ecologically-inspired artworks and inventions.


Working cooperatively with schools, institutions, organisations, communities and individuals to develop concepts and actions that nourish the living planet.

The University as an agency of change

How can universities quickly pursue practical solutions to the environmental concerns of our age?

To visit, contact:


Hasten Slowly: Developing an interactive sustainability storytelling chair (2020)
Callum Egan, Andrew O’Dowd, Neil Fyffe
2020 ACM Workshop: Computing Within Limits, Bristol, UK

The Lions’ Gate: Towards a permaculture-inspired blended space (2019)
Callum Egan, Richard Thompson, Andrew O’Dowd
2019 ACM Workshop: Computing within Limits, Lappeenranta, Finland

Sustainable HCI: Blending permaculture and user-experience. (2017)
Callum Egan, David Benyon
Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference Companion Publication on Designing Interactive Systems Pages 39-43
ISBN: 978-1-4503-4991-8

Permaculture as a foundation for sustainable interaction design and UX. (2017)
Callum Egan, David Benyon, Richard Thompson
Proceedings of British HCI 2017 – Digital Make-Believe, Sunderland, UK

Feature story on The Lions’ Gate in the St Andrews Society of San Francisco’s newsletter (November 2020)

These books (and now many more than this list shows) are available on a bookcase situated by the large window that looks onto The Lions’ Gate Garden from Merchiston Library:

  • Teaming with microbes : the organic gardener’s guide to the soil food web / Jeff Lowenfels & Wayne Lewis ; foreword by Elaine Ingham., Portland, Or. :, Timber Press, 2010., 9781604691139, ISBN
  • Plants for a future : edible & useful plants for a healthier world / Ken Fern., Hampshire, England :White River Junction, VT :, Permanent Publications Distributed in the USA by Chelsea Green Pub Co, 2000., 9781856230117, ISBN
  • Silent spring / Rachel Carson ; introduction by Lord Shackleton ; preface by Julian Huxley ; with a new afterword by Linda Lear., London :, Penguin Books in association with Hamish Hamilton, 2000., Penguin classics, 9780141184944, ISBN
  • Ancient Futures : Learning from Ladakh / Helena Norberg-Hodge., London, Vintage/Ebury (A Division of Random House Group), 2000, 9780712606561, ISBN
  • Do it Yourself 12 Volt Solar Power / Michel Daniek., Permanent Publications, 2016, 9781856232425, ISBN
  • The transition companion : making your community more resilient in uncertain times / Rob Hopkins., Totnes :, Transition, 2011., 9781900322973, ISBN
  • The permaculture city : regenerative design for urban, suburban, and town resilience / Toby Hemenway., White River Junction, Vermont :, Chelsea Green Publishing,, 2015, 9781603585262, ISBN
  • The Permaculture Garden / Graham Bell., Permanent Publications, 2004, 9781856230278, ISBN
  • Permaculture design : a step-by-step guide / by Aranya., Hampshire, England :, Permanent Publications, 2012., 9781856230919, ISBN
  • Cradle to cradle : remaking the way we make things / William McDonough & Michael Braungart., London :, Vintage,, 2009, 9780099535478, ISBN
  • The earth care manual : a permaculture handbook for Britain & other temperate climates / Patrick Whitefield., East Meon, Hampshire, UK :, Permanent Publications,, 2011, 9781856232791, ISBN
  • Mycelium running : how mushrooms can help save the world / Paul Stamets., Berkeley :, Ten Speed Press, c2005., 9781580085793, ISBN
  • Timeless way of building / Christopher Alexander., New York, Oxford University P, 1987, Center for Environmental Structure Series, 9780195024029, ISBN

Other key texts

The Permaculture Garden
Bell G
Permanent Publications

Telecommunication Networks: Economy, ecology, rule
Cubitt S
Theory Culture and Society, 2014, 31(7/8) 185–199

Wayfinding: A conceptual framework
Passini R
Urban Ecology (1981)

Where The Action Is
Dourish P
The Foundations Of Embodied Interaction (2004)

Re-Space-ing Place : “Place” and “Space” Ten Years On
Dourish P (2006)

Sustainable interaction design
Blevis E
Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems – CHI ’07 (2007)

Responsibilities and Implications: Further Thoughts on Ethnography and Design
Dourish P
Proceedings of the 2007 conference on Designing for User eXperiences (2007)

A Cautious Prometheus? A Few Steps Toward a Philosophy of Design (with Special Attention to Peter Sloterdijk)
Latour B
Design History Society (2008)

Nourishing the ground for sustainable HCI: considerations from ecologically engaged art
DiSalvo, C., Boehner, K., Knouf, N. A., & Sengers P
Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM. (2009)

The new world of the anthropocene
Zalasiewicz J Williams M Steffen W
Environmental Science and Technology (2010)

HCI and environmental sustainability: the politics of design and the design of politics
Dourish P
Proceedings of the 8th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems . ACM. (2010)

Making food, producing sustainability
Hirsch T Sengers P Blevis E
Proceedings of the 28th of the international conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems – CHI EA ’10 (2010)

Mapping the landscape of sustainable HCI
DiSalvo C Sengers P Brynjarsdóttir H
Proceedings of the 28th international conference on Human factors in computing systems (2010)

What if sustainability doesn’t work out?
Tomlinson B Patterson D Pan Y
Interactions (2012)

Retrofitting the Suburbs for the Energy Descent Future
Holmgren D (2012)

Sustainably unpersuaded: How Persuasion Narrows Our Vision of Sustainability
Brynjarsdottir H Håkansson M Pierce J
Proceedings of the 2012 ACM annual conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – CHI ’12 (2012)

Collapse informatics: augmenting the sustainability & ICT4D discourse in HCI
Tomlinson B Silberman M Patterson D
Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on human factors in computing systems (2012)

Collapse informatics and practice
Tomlinson B Blevis E Nardi B
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (2013)

Exploring sustainability research in computing
Knowles B Blair L Hazas M
Proceedings of the 2013 ACM international joint conference on Pervasive and ubiquitous computing – UbiComp ’13 (2013)

A sustainable design fiction: Green practices
Wakkary R Desjardins A Hauser S
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) (2013)

Next Steps for Sustainable HCI
Silberman M Nathan L Knowles B
Interactions (2014)

Anthropology at the Time of the Anthropocene – a personal view of what is to be studied
Latour B
Distinguished lecture at the AAA meeting in Washington (2014)

Spaces of Interaction, Places for Experience
Benyon D
Synthesis Lectures on Human-Centered Informatics (2014)

What have we learned? A SIGCHI HCI & sustainability workshop
Silberman M Nathan L Blevis E
Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems – Proceedings (2014)

Rethinking plan A for sustainable HCI
Knowles B Blair L Coulton P
Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems – CHI ’14 (2014)

Plant Guild Composer : An Interactive Online System to Support Back Yard Food Production
Norton J Burke S Tomlinson B
Chi’14 (2014)

Ecological Perspectives in HCI: Promise, Problems, and Potential
Blevis E Bødker S Flach J
Extended Abstracts of the ACM CHI’15 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2015)

Expanding the Boundaries: A SIGCHI HCI & Sustainability Workshop
Clear A Preist C Joshi S
Extended Abstracts of the ACM CHI’15 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2015)