Prof Alan Penn

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Alan is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment, a HEFCE Business Fellow and a founding director of  Space Syntax Ltd,  a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city masterplans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He is a member of the Space Group, an EPSRC Platform funded research group. He was the founding Chair of the RIBA’s Research and Innovation Committee, and served in that role until 2006. He was Chair of the Architecture & the Built Environment sub-panel 30 for the UK National Research Assessment Exercise 2008, and a member of its Main Panel H. He is the Chair of the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel 16 and a member of Main-panel C for the Research Excellence Framework 2014. He was the lead academic on the £5m  Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities  knowledge exchange programme which promoted more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK. He was Principal Investigator on the  City History and Multi-scale Spatial Master-planning  UK-China Research Network, 国际研究网络:城市历史与多尺度的空间整体规划, funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will develop UK-Chinese academic research collaboration. He is a trustee of the  Shakespeare North Trust   and of the  Institute for Sustainability.

Research Summary

His research focuses on understanding the way that the design of the built environment affects the patterns of social and economic behaviour of organisations and communities. How is it that architecture and urban design matter for those that inhabit them? How is it that the spatial design of cities and neighbourhoods leads to the generation of cultural and community identity? Under what conditions do vital and thriving creative communities occur, and under what conditions does crime and urban malaise develop?

In order to investigate these questions he has developed both research methodologies and software tools. These are known as ‘space syntax’ methods. Current research includes the development of agent based simulations of human behaviour, the development of spatio-temporal representations of built environments, investigations of urban spatial networks and the application of these techniques in studies of urban sustainability in the broadest sense, covering social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions.

Research outputs

Translating Analytical Descriptions of Cities into Synthetic Urban Design Models 2016 Penn A,Al-Sayed K
A dependency network description of building information models 2016 Bew M,Penn A,Al-Sayed K
On the nature of urban dependencies; How manhattan and barcelona reinforced a natural organisation despite planning intentionality 2016 Al-Sayed K,Penn A
Modelling dependency networks to inform data structures in BIM and smart cities 2015 Al Sayed K,Bew M,Penn A,Palmer D,Broyd T
The architectural adaptation of urban economic life: Location, use and form of the commercial-residential building in Cardiff 2015 Narvaez L,Penn A,Griffiths S
The spatial signature of convergence and divergence in two cities 2015 Al-Sayed K,Penn A
An empirical study on applying community detection methods in defining spatial housing submarkets in London 2015 Law S,Karimi K,Penn A
Visibility, accessibility and beyond: Next generation visibility graph analysis 2015 Varoudis T,Penn A
The space syntax toolkit: Integrating depthmapX and exploratory spatial analysis workflows in QGIS 2015 Gil J,Varoudis T,Karimi K,Penn A
A framework for simulating large-scale complex urban traffic dynamics through hybrid agent-based modelling 2014 Manley E,Cheng T,Penn A,Emmonds A
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Research activities

ARTHUR: Augmented Round Table for Architecture and Urban Planning
City History and Multi-Scale Spatial Masterplanning
Cityware:Urban Design and Ubiquitous Computing
EPSRC Dongtan Sustainable City Networks: Coordination Framework 2
EPSRC: Simulation of Non-Recurrent Traffic Congestion
Platform Grant: Space, Technologies and the Design of the Built Environment
Platform Grant: Space, time and interaction: integrating spatial and temporal domains in analysis of the function of the built environment
School Travel Plan Evaluation
Screens in the Wild: Exploring the Potential of Networked Urban Screens for Communities and Culture
TOWER: Theatre of Work Enabling Relationships