The Bartlett School of Architecture


Space Syntax Laboratory Research Seminar: Liam Bolton

10 December 2020, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

Rooftop developments

Bartlett PhD Architectural Space and Computation candidate Liam Bolton discusses his work in mapping airspace development in London.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Sepehr Zhand

Cartographies of Rooftop Housing: Techniques for Mapping Airspace Development in London


As London’s population rises it will become increasingly important to explore new ways to make the most of urban space. Airspace development, or rooftop housing, has recently been promoted by government and industry as a solution to the capital’s housing crisis. Airspace development could have a significant impact on London’s urban fabric. It is imperative that practitioners and communities are equipped with the techniques to plan and design high-quality affordable homes on rooftops and to navigate policy on air rights and airspace development. However, there is a severe lack of critical research on airspace development in London from a methodological or a policy perspective. 

This research critically analyses techniques for mapping airspace development in London. First, it provides a critical analysis of the social, environmental and economic implications of upward densification through airspace development. Drawing on the fields of spatial analysis and data visualisation, this research subsequently evaluates the strengths, limitations and applications of existing techniques for mapping airspace development. Using London as a laboratory, it develops new techniques and tools such as Airspace Ratio for the purposes of measuring and mapping airspace development. It also provides a spatio-temporal analysis of airspace development in the case study areas of Balham, Kensington, Camberwell and Croydon. This applied piece of research is an original contribution to the literature on airspace development that could be useful to designers, planners and communities involved in the building of homes on London’s rooftops. 


Specialising in GIS and data visualisation, Liam is currently a PhD Architectural Space and Computation student at The Bartlett, UCL. His research explores techniques for mapping airspace development in London. Liam is also a Fellow at Create Streets. He has developed a number of novel mapping tools such as the Fresnel Map as well as new tools for measuring and mapping urban density.

In the past, Liam has worked with research labs, local authorities, government departments, non-profits, Innovation Labs and news agencies. He recently completed an MSc Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), UCL. Liam subsequently worked as a Consultant for The Bartlett School of Architecture.

About this series 

This academic seminar series features researchers sharing their findings, discussing their ideas and showing work in progress from The Bartlett's internationally renowned Space Syntax Laboratory. Seminars are moderated by PhD candidate Sepehr Zhand. They are open to the public and attended by Bartlett’s staff and students.

Image: RCKa Architects