Alexandra Staub's research centers on how our everyday life is reflected in our built environment and how our built environment shapes our understanding of who we are. As a society, we expend vast resources in shaping our built environment and ethical questions regarding its creation and use are wide-ranging. She understands architectural ethics broadly as questions of agency expressed through power and empowerment. More specifically, the building process presents an opportunity for architects and policymakers to consider ethical questions related to how we create and use space, including design processes and their social implications; the economic, ecological and social sustainability of the built environment; interpretations of private and public spaces, and how class and gender shape our expectations for the use of architecture and urban space.
Dr. Staub is interested in cross-disciplinary work. Her scholarly work, including books, book chapters, and articles, has focused on the creation and use of space in a variety of contexts. Her most recent book, The Routledge Companion to Modernity, Space and Gender (Routledge, 2018), is a wide-ranging edited volume of authors from a variety of disciplines examining how modernity has been defined in different cultural contexts, how this has been expressed architecturally and spatially, and what effect this has had on the everyday life of women.
In her 2015 book Conflicted Identities: Housing and the Politics of Cultural Representation, she focuses on how political and cultural processes shape our built environment, using post-World War II West Germany as a case study. She concludes that nation-states use officially sanctioned architecture to create a national identity that often diverges greatly from an identity represented by the vast realm of domestic space defined largely by those who occupy it.
Further articles have covered topics ranging from research policies in Germany for energy-efficient housing, the role of the automobile in shaping housing policies in postwar Germany, and how marketing and consumerism are used to shape housing demand in the United States. As a member of the Department of Architecture’s Culture, Society and Space (CSS) Research Cluster, Alexandra Staub has been involved in research projects that have examined cultural aspects of housing and urban spaces in countries as diverse as the United States, Russia, Germany, China, India, Turkey, and Iran.