David Batchelor

After completing history and public management qualifications, David Batchelor enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy in Architecture.

David Batchelor smiling to the camera and leaning to a lamp post

David found that the PhD in Architecture offered the framework to combine his interests in urban governance, heritage, and technology into a comprehensive research project and contribute to the academic and professional sectors.

“The supervision during my PhD was exceptional. My supervisors converged their distinct skillsets to support and challenge my thinking throughout the process, and the experience encouraged me to learn interdisciplinary communication techniques and develop as a researcher,” David says. “Our PhD programme is one of the few in the country that has the benefit of researchers from design and technology programmes within the same Faculty. This drives innovation that resonates beyond a single discipline.”

David’s research produced the first comprehensive understanding of Smart Heritage, a convergence of smart technologies and heritage initiatives, and produced a guidance document on how local governments can implement Smart Heritage in their policies and operations.

“Smart Heritage is at the forefront of connecting the past to the present. Through smart technologies, it can automatically curate historical stories that are relevant to audiences based on public and personal data, and the past can inform how a city implements technological solutions and which narratives they tell. Smart Heritage could draw on dispersed online archives to reveal hidden or forgotten histories about people, places, and stories.”

During his research, David conducted policy analysis and interviews with three local governments in Australia and tested those findings through interviews with Wellington City Council. He investigated how smart city and heritage policies and operations within these organisations converge, how they benefit each other, and how to enhance their collaboration to achieve the aims of each council. This process saw him engage policy, architectural, urban planning, conservation, and technology experts and understand the political, economic, and cultural contexts of each city.

“Working across countries, states, cities, and professions revealed the complexities of converging technological solutions with often hyper-local histories and local government processes. Each city was at a different stage of the smart technology adoption journey and had its unique past and pressures, so a uniform solution was not possible. To resolve these differences, my supervisors, Professor Marc Aurel Schnabel and Dr Michael Dudding, and I developed a conceptual understanding of smart technologies and heritage to underpin Smart Heritage and translate the research into various local contexts.”

While studying for his PhD, David was given opportunities to present his research at overseas conferences, tutor within the Faculty, and lead an industry outreach programme for postgraduate students.

“These experiences enabled me to expand my network within the university and externally in the industry. I am looking forward to continuing bridging the gap between academia and practice through my research and professional career”.