The Bartlett School of Architecture

Prof Alan Penn

Prof Alan Penn

Professor in Architectura and Urban Computing

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1989

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.


University College London
Other higher degree, Master of Science | 1983
University College London
Other Postgraduate qualification (including professional), Diploma of Architecture | 1980
University College London
First Degree, Bachelor of Science (Honours) | 1978


Alan is a former Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment (2009-19), he is 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 board member of UCL Consultants Ltd. He is a member of the Space Syntax Laboratory within The Bartlett School of Architecture. 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: Urban Dynamics Lab. He is a founding trustee of the  Shakespeare North Trust  a charity which is constructing a new Shakespearian theatre and educational centre in Prescot outside Liverpool. He has a part time role as Chief Scientific Advisor at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/news/2019/jul/professor-alan-penn-appointed-ministry-housing-communities-and-local-government