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

Designing with discrete geometry 2014 Jonas K,Penn A,Shepherd P
Space Syntax methodology 2014 Al-Sayed K,Turner A,Hillier B,Iida S,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
My neighbourhood: Studying perceptions of urban space and neighbourhood with moblogging 2013 Stanton Fraser D,O'Neill E,Jay T,Penn A
Spatial Configuration, Organisational Change and Academic Networks 2012 Sailer K,Penn A,Marmot A
Order, Structure and Disorder in Space Syntax and Linkography: Intelligibility, Entropy, and Complexity Measures 2012 El-Khouly TAI,Penn A
My neighbourhood: Studying perceptions of urban space and neighbourhood with moblogging 2012 Stanton Fraser D,O'Neill E,Jay T,Penn A
Creating Urban Place: Re-thinking the Value of Residential and Commercial Use in Urban Street Networks 2012 Narvaez L,Penn A,Griffiths S
Sensing, projecting and interpreting digital identity through Bluetooth: from anonymous encounters to social engagement 2011 FATAH gen SCHIECK A,PALMER F,PENN A,O'NEILL E
Pre and Post Occupancy Evaluations in Workplace Environments 2010 Sailer K,Budgen A,Lonsdale N,Turner A,Penn 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