The Urbanism Group undertakes leading-edge and collaborative research on theories and practices for transforming cities.
The Urbanism Group is a relatively young and dynamic group in the Welsh School of Architecture which brings together diverse academics, researchers and doctoral students to share our work, to exchange different ideas, and to collaborate on research that moves the field in new and exciting directions.
The group is primarily a forum for intellectual exchange and collaborative projects on various aspects of urbanism as an interdisciplinary, critical and engaged field of design.
Current and recent projects include:
- Co-Designing Publics: Address the lack of systematic understanding of how publics are designed via processes the spatial production of the public realm, especially through the use of informal strategies in cities of the global south. Cities are amongst humanity's greatest creations, and the public realm is arguably their most significant aspect. The most potent aspect of the public realm lies in its capacity to deliberately and creatively generate (i.e. "design") publics via the process of its making (i.e. " production").
- Prismatic City: Surprising way in which Las Vegas provides insights into the true nature of contemporary urbanism. What can cities of extreme such as Las Vegas tell us about the contemporary dynamics of urbanism? How can a deeper and more complex understanding of cities lead to more transformative design practices in the face of critical urban challenges? The research considers supposedly "extreme urbanism" as not only worthy of serious study, but as a prism for contemporary urbanism phenomena that present themselves in clear relief.
- Designing urban transformation. What is the ultimate purpose of urbanism? How can the design processes and spatial products of urbanism transform cities in fundamental ways? The book critically analyses the current state of the art of design and urbanism, and proposes a new theoretical and empirical approach towards designing the fundamental transformation of cities.
- Care for the City: Rethinking urbanism and ethics. Focusing on the practices of planning, design, building and management through which the city is structured, physically made and maintained, the book sets out to show how care is and is not embedded in a range of ways of making the built environment.
- Legacy of the London Olympics. The role of urban and architectural design in urban regeneration, particularly in the design and use of megaevents such as the Olympics in the transformation of cities, and in the transformation of industrial and post-industrial urban landscapes.
- Education and global urbanisation. The lack of access to educational opportunities is currently most pronounced in regions of rapid urbanisation and in the fastest-growing cities. Some of the most pressing challenges for urban planners relate to the provision of schools in the context of worldwide urbanisation.
- Online education and the COVID-19 outbreak.The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has become a critical challenge for the higher education sector. The research critically reflects on the authors' experience of teaching urban design research methods online during the early COVID-19 lockdown in the UK.
- Informal urbanism in the state of uncertainty. Forms of informality – ranging from informal settlements to street vending and informal transport – have become integral, yet not necessarily limited to how cities of the global South work. The research explores the dynamics of informal urbanism in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extent to which forms of informality can adapt in the state of uncertainty.
- Access and forms of urbanity in public space. The research investigates the nexus between station-walkable catchments and forms of urbanity around transit nodes by adopting an assemblage approach to cut across any separation of sociality and spatiality. Drawing on empirical research from two case studies in Tehran, the project develops two measures of accessibility – the Catchment of Accessible Public Spaces (CAPS) and Accessible Interfaces (AI).
Lecturer in Architecture | Module Leader Design Year 3
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Project Lead of Community Gateway
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The Urbanism Group conducts regular events, such as presentations by scholars and doctoral students on their recent work, in order to facilitate dialogue. Other events include talks by distinguished guests that are sponsored by the Urbanism Group but are open to the Welsh School of Architecture community, such as the talk by Professor Colin McFarlane on "Repopulating Density? Knowledge Politics, Covid-19 and the City".
There are also smaller and more practical events such as on "Research for funding on urbanism". In this conversation, three colleagues discussed their experiences in applying for, obtaining and spending funding. The goal of the conversation was to learn from each other and apply these lessons in order to be more effective in obtaining funding for research in urbanism.