Dr Kayvan Karimi
The Bartlett School of Architecture
Faculty of the Built Environment
- Joined UCL
- 4th Jan 2011
My main research activities are focused on the following areas:
1. Evidence-informed, analytical, urban and architectural design
Linking objective methods of analysing space, from a micro to a macro scale, and linking it with other layers of urban and architectural attributes, such as movement, behaviour, land use, density and perception, create a powerful method of engaging in the design process from the outset to the end. I have been using these methods continuously in research and consultancy in the past fifteen year. My ongoing research is on the work towards enhancing these methods and their applications.
2. Organic cities, naturally-evolved urban systems and urban heritage
Organically evolved urban systems are very dynamic, attractive and efficient, but at the same time they are complex, puzzling and ambiguous. Many urbanists admire them but find it difficult to explain them in an analytic and objective way. During my doctoral research in 1990s, and in research and consultancy projects that I have done afterwards, I have been analysing organic urban systems all around the world. The main goal of the research is to understand these systems better, but more importantly, it is about finding effective solutions for regeneration and conservation of these systems, which are central to many historic cities and towns around the world.
3. Informal settlements and slum regeneration
A major type of organic growth, which happens in a very fast and energetic way, is an informal or unplanned settlement. In contrast to the more historic and evolved organic cities, informal settlements do not have enough time to create a highly evolved, efficient system that we find in historic towns. Despite sharing some similarities, such as vibrancy and urban buzz, with other organic developments, informal settlements have to deal with huge challenges of urban decline, poverty, lack of infrastructure and basic facilities. My research seeks to underpin the roots of problems in unplanned settlements by analysing their spatial structure and linking it with other layers of urban function and activity in the context of the wider city. Solutions for regeneration and upgrading emerge from a process of analysing the settlements, identifying the fundaments problems and finding solution to fix them in close connection with the socio-economic conditions of each settlement.
4. Strategic planning and large-scale urban developments
Large-scale planning usually falls within an area of research that architectural and urban design approaches tend not to be concerned about or even interested in. This area is normally left to regional and city planning discipline which by nature tends to generalise the issues and minimise the need for accurate and rigorous spatial investigations. The theory and methods of space syntax provides an approach that a large urban system could be investigated by the accuracy and rigour that we use at architectural or urban scale. I have been using these methods in looking at very large urban systems and engage with the process of strategic planning and decision-making by applying methods of spatial analysis and linking them with other attributes of the city such as landuse, movement, density and demographics. I foresee a big potential for this type of research to be utilised in any type of large-scale planning in future.
Currently, my main teaching activities are within the Space Syntax Laboratory, The Bartlett School of Architecture. I am leading three modules, called ‘The Principles of Analytical Design’, 'Space Syntax Methodology and Analytical Design" and "Analytical Design Research Project" for the master courses MRes and MSc in Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities (SSAC). These modules provide a well-defined methodology for the description and analysis of form-function relations in architecture at all scales from the individual dwelling to the urban region. The modules introduce ‘space syntax’ research methods aimed at investigating spatial morphology and its social implications by a practical, hands-on programme of lectures and workshops, supported by a wide range of specialist learning materials. The emphasis is on space syntax as an innovative paradigm of evidence-based enquiry in which students learn how to experiment and test spatial hypotheses and think strategically about the role of spatial configuration in the design process and in relation to pressing questions such as the sustainability of the built environment. A series of lectures based on case-study examples will showcase how these methods have been deployed in architectural practice. The curriculum combines grounded qualitative methods with quantitative descriptive methods of spatial and configurational analysis and observation, to answer specific questions relating to the built environment. Research methods from allied disciplines, such as GIS, social anthropology and sociology are also introduced.
I am also directing a new course called MRes in Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities (SSAC), which runs in close connection with our MSC course, but has a greater emphasis on research. The course provides a new research path for students with a professional or academic background to engage with intensive research projects.
In parallel with my teaching activities at the MRes SSAC and MSc SSAC courses, I am also supervising a large number of PhD students and give advice to research students who feel my expertise would be useful for their research. I am currently a visiting lecturer at the other departments of Bartlett, such as Development Planning Unit (DPU) and a number of other institutions, such as University of Westminster, Imperial College and Princes Foundation and give lectures at their urban design and urban regeneration master programmes.
Dr. Kayvan Karimi is a Senior Lecturer within Space Syntax Laboratory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and the Course Director of MRes in Space Syntax: Architecture and Cities (MRes SSAC). He is also the Director of Space Syntax Limited, a UCL knowledge-tranfer company that utilises Bartlett’s research in professional consultancy. Kayvan is an architectural and urban designer with more than twenty years of academic and professional experience. His academic and professional experience spans from the East, where he originates, to the West, where he has spent most of his academic and professional life. He has worked extensively on a wide range of research and consultancy projects, including: strategic city planning, urban regeneration, large-scale urban master planning, urban conservation, revitalisation of historic centres, regeneration of informal settlements, complex buildings, public realm design and pedestrian movement planning. In recent years, Kayvan has been developing advanced methods for evidence-based design and planning of the built environment, from a very macro scale, such as master planning of an entire city, to very micro scale, such as the design of small public spaces or buildings. Kayvan has maintained his teaching and research activities in parallel to his main role in leading consultancy projects. He has become a senior lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, since January 2011, and established the new master course, MRes SSAC in 2013.