Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory

Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory

The Person-Environment-Activity Research Laboratory (PEARL), owned and managed by UCL, is based in East London. PEARL is designed to enable fundamental and applied research on the ways in which people interact with infrastructure and cities.

This research is a fusion of sciences and arts and embraces many different aspects of civil, environmental and mechanical engineering, instrumentation science and engineering, neurology, psychology, ophthalmology, audiology, orthopaedics, the creative and performing arts, technical and aesthetic design, and humanities such as economics, ethics and philosophy. It also has a large and prominent community engagement activity.

Activities within PEARL vary from creating life-sized, controlled condition environments - e.g. a railway station, a high street or town square, to a micro-scale, such as neurological activity, physiological (e.g. electrodermal activity, heart rate, breathing) and physical reactions (e.g. physical motion, movement), or emotional responses. The physical displacements of people in response to environmental design (what they see, touch, hear, smell or feel) or to dynamic conditions (such as explosions, instructions or exogenous movements) is also studied. 

Researchers are using PEARL to engage with the public to discover what activities people want or need to do, and the ways in which the environment helps or hinders them. PEARL is an ideal environment for testing proposed (and existing) standards and regulations. This knowledge can shape the design of our environment to enable people to live with a greater quality of life in the social space that is society.

The facility launched in Summer 2021.


Film credit: New London Architecture

Image credit: Penoyre & Prasad

Who can use the facility Functions/facilities available

Industry and Academic researchers (multi disciplines)  

Use of equipment; collaborative research and consultancy

Fellowships and PhD Studentships Use of equipment, study space
Charities, public bodies and public Collaborative research, events, community engagement

Facility highlights

  • £50m investment
  • 4,000m2 research space, including large 40,000m3 space, workshops, studios, creative spaces, soundlab, seminar rooms and 500 seat pop-up theatre
  • 600m2 configurable floor
  • A multispeaker, multizone 3D ambisonic active panning dynamic acoustic system
  • Variable environmental confounders, e.g. smoke/fog
  • Olfaction units
  • A fully programmable lighting system, covering the full visible (plus InfraRed) light spectrum, with very low to very high intensity

Find out more

Visit site 

Visit UCL site 

Contact Barbara Pizzileo, Strategic Partnerships Manager  

Watch the PEARL facility presentation or download the slides as a PDF.

The floor of the PEARL facility