IAPS as an organisation has at its heart the investigation of people and their relationship to the environment. This has recently, drawn substantially on urban design, landscape, and various branches of psychology (particularly environmental psychology). There are also a small number of social scientists and anthropologists involved in the organisation, but there is a large untapped resource of research in this field which has direct relevance to the study of people and their lives in the environment.Key to this is Tim Ingold’s important work The Perception of the Environment which draws on the work of James Gibson and others in encouraging a firmly contextualised understanding of how we live in the environment rather than distinct from it. Our lives are materially, culturally, and socially enmeshed with the environment in a number of important ways.This panel brings together a group of researchers responding directly to this call to contextual research, research which redefines the potential of anthropology, architecture, and design.Each of these disciplines has distinctive knowledge traditions and practices which, when given respect and equivalent weight, can enter into meaningful dialogue. This affords different forms of understanding to emerge, based on frames of reference outside of conventional academic and professional practices but with a deeper connection to context.Whilst the benefits of other disciplines are clear and by no means devalued by the inclusion of anthropology, the personal, contextual, and even anecdotal nature of ethnographies of different kinds offers the potential for deeper understanding of people’s life-worlds and, crucially, how to intervene in a more meaningful, helpful, and sensitive manner as designers, be that in architecture, urban design, product design or industrial design.There remains a fundamental problem at the heart of anthropology’s relationship with design disciplines, and that is in the interventionist nature of design. Anthropologists are famously methodologically atheist and even philistine, observing and remarking on what they experience and observe rather than seeking to intervene and make changes in the manner of a designer. This is a creative tension rather than a paralysing one.The symposium asks the fundamental question of how it is possible to produce knowledge relevant to the understanding of how people interact with, and are part of their environment. How is it possible to learn, and what are the methods by which we can find out? How can designers integrate alternative methodologies in order to design spaces?In asking this question a multitude of answers are given rather than a single truth: always responding to the various contexts in which we find ourselves.