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 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 is Principal Investigator on the £5m five year EPSRC funded Digital Economy Hub: UK Regions Digital Research Facility. He is a trustee of the  Shakespeare North Trust  a charity which is constructing a new Shakespearian theatre and educational centre in Prescot outside Liverpool.

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
On the nature of urban dependencies; How manhattan and barcelona reinforced a natural organisation despite planning intentionality 2016 Al-Sayed K,Penn A
A dependency network description of building information models 2016 Bew M,Penn A,Al-Sayed K
The spatial signature of convergence and divergence in two cities 2015 Al-Sayed K,Penn A
The architectural adaptation of urban economic life: Location, use and form of the commercial-residential building in Cardiff 2015 Narvaez Zertuche LP,Penn A,Griffiths S
The space syntax toolkit: Integrating depthmapX and exploratory spatial analysis workflows in QGIS 2015 Gil J,Varoudis T,Karimi 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
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 spatial dimensions of trade: From the geography of uses to the architecture of local economies 2014 Narvaez L,Penn A,Griffiths S
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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