Public CoLab is a collaborative research laboratory that leverages the power of architectural design research to investigate complex issues of public concern. Each year Public CoLab harnesses the energy, skills and creativity of the BSc stage 1 and the MArch 1 architecture students at Queen’s University Belfast to understand a particularly pertinent spatial phenomenon in Northern Ireland. The primary investigative conduit of Public CoLab is an intensive week-long workshop, in January, where small teams of architecture students partner with subject experts and external collaborators to investigate a specific aspect of an overarching research question. Together the research teams leverage the power of architectural thinking to create visualizations, models and installations all of which serve to illuminate the spatial workings of the issue under investigation. These outputs are used to help to communicate the findings to a broader audience outside of the discipline of architecture.