Design Research North DRN

About Design Research North

DRN is a vehicle for engagement with the city, industry and the studio. It is a design and research consultancy which conducts a wide range of community and industry-based research projects in the north of England. Inherent to the function of DRN is the interaction of students and studio projects in the context of a live research office.

As a research office, we strive to understand complex social and design issues for the benefit of communities through optimisation. Our research strategy is to disseminate, exchange and combine localised studies with related academic institutions, municipalities and agencies at a European and Global scale.


Director Des Fagan was formerly director of the Digital Façade Group at Leeds School of Architecture, which focused primarily on the resolution and optimisation of complex façade geometries.

On starting work at UCLan in 2015, he formed DRN with a wider remit to consider the role of complex optimisation for social and urban problems. The office is run as a live collaborative space which influences and is influenced by contemporary practice in studio at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. DRN have worked with a number of national and global companies and community groups in and around Preston, Lancashire and beyond.




Head of Architecture

Des is the founder and director of DRN. He previously led a number of internationally significant design projects, including as project architect for the London 2012 Olympic Village and as lead architect for Zaha Hadid’s Glasgow Transport Museum, winner of the 2013 Museum of the Year. Des defines the strategic direction of DRN and is involved in all project from inception to completion.



Project Coordinator and Office Manager

Jack is a Part II architectural assistant who recently graduated from LMU and has previously worked at Karakusevic Carson Architects in London after completing his Part I in MMU. Between his BA and diploma, he won an international competition to design a market hall in a town in Slovenia.



Design Coordinator and Manager

Rose is an interior and spatial designer and recently graduated from the Interior Design course at UCLan with a first class award. In the same year, she was nominated for the UCLAN creative focus award 2015.



Design Coordinator

Marco is an Italian architect and designer who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the office. He is an expert in several architectural software programmes and is able to strategise about the best approach to documentation and information.



Alumni – UCLan – BSc Hons Architecture

Harsha recently graduated from the undergraduate UCLan Architecture course, and is a Part I Research Intern at the office. Harsha is an excellent designer, facilitator and organiser, working on several projects and coordinating design team meetings.