A studio-based programme bringing together designers and thinkers from around the world for long-term research on the challenges of global urbanisation and the creative potential of design.
About the programme
Urban design is the study of cities, their form and nature, as well as the complex challenges and opportunities of global urbanisation. This programme belongs to the school's suite of B-Pro programmes, which focus on advanced digital design and computation.
Working collaboratively within teaching groups called research clusters, students explore new ideas in both design and theory, developing a complex understanding of the city as a place of human co-existence. Students are encouraged to use the school’s home in London as their primary ‘laboratory’, but also undertake other field work. The programme provides the opportunity to discover new design skills, using specialist tools and technology.
Urban Design MArch culminates in the annual B-Pro Show - an exhibition of student work, attracting thousands of visitors to the school’s central London home.
- Work collaboratively to innovate and explore new ideas in design and theory
- Discover new design skills and techniques, critical enquiry and related technologies
- Gain an understanding of the city as a place of human co-existence and devise strategies and projects to guide its future development
- Explore and understand London, one of the world’s richest and most diverse urban centres
- Have access to B-made - workshop facilities and fabrication expertise unrivalled in the UK
- Programme Director: Roberto Bottazzi
- Skills Coordinator: Maj Plementias
- History & Theory Coordinator: Daniel Koehler
- All Urban Design MArch staff
Programme Director and Research Cluster 14 Tutor
Roberto Bottazzi is an architect, researcher, and educator based in London. Previously, he worked and studied in Italy and Canada and was Master tutor and Research Coordinator at the Royal College of Art from 2005 to 2015. Roberto's research analyses the impact of digital technologies on architecture and urbanism. His research has been exhibited and published both in the UK and internationally, with his latest publication being Digital Architecture Beyond Computers: Fragments of a Cultural History of Computational Design.
Research Cluster 11 Tutor
Ana Abram is a landscape architect and urbanist who divides her work between academia, research and practice. Over the last decade, she has collaborated with several globally recognised practices like Gustafson Porter + Bowman and Turenscape, where she contributed to competition-winning designs and delivered projects from concept to completion. Her research is based on understanding natural and social contexts through complex design syntheses, while engaging with territorial, urban and natural systems. She is a co-founder of the award-winning AMPHIBIOUS Lab, which focuses on dynamic landscapes and their interfaces with anthropogenic environments. Ana has lectured and been an invited critic at several leading institutions including the American Institute of Architects, the Architectural Association and the University of Melbourne. Her work has been published and exhibited throughout Europe, North America and Asia.
Research Cluster 18 Tutor
Zachary Fluker is an architectural designer with a background in industrial design and cabinet making. He is a graduate of both Emily Carr University of Art and Design and the Architectural Association. His research into interfacing digital and physical environments and computational fabrication has led to him collaborating with several practices in the UK and Canada, including Philip Beesley Architect.
Research Cluster 17 Tutor
Dr Daniel Koehler is a design and theory tutor at The Bartlett, a research associate at the University of Innsbruck and a co-founder of the Lab for Environmental Design Strategies. Daniel is the author of The Mereological City (Transcript, 2016), a study of the modes of part-to-whole relations between architecture and its city during modernism. Daniel’s recent research investigates the architectural implications of digital logistics.
Enriqueta Llabres Valls
Research Cluster 18 Tutor
Enriqueta Llabres Valls is an architect, social scientist and researcher with an MSc in Local Economic Development from the London School of Economics. In 2009 she founded the award-winning practice Relational Urbanism. She is a design critic in Landscape Architecture at Harvard and has collaborated with institutions worldwide as a critic and lecturer.
Research Cluster 16 Tutor
Filippo Nassetti is a member of the Computation and Design team (ZH CODE) at Zaha Hadid Architects as well as Tutor at The Bartlett's Urban Morphogenesis Lab. As part of his current practice and academic commitments, Filippo is pursuing his research interest of generative method and emergent technologies. He has taught and worked internationally, including as architect at Plasma Studio Architects and SPAN Architecture&Design. Filippo co-founded MHOX, a practice focused on generative design and 3D printing, where he explored their potential for the design of wearable products. Filippo has lectured at The Royal College of Arts, University of Bologna, and the Architectural Association Visiting School Jordan.
Research Cluster 17
Rasa Navasaityte is an architect and Co-founder of the design practice lab-eds. Alongside her teaching at The Bartlett, she is a research associate at the University of Innsbruck. She has taught workshops, seminars and design studios at the Vilnius Academy of Arts and the University of East London. Rasa holds a Master's in Architecture, which she received with distinction at the Angewandte in Vienna, supervised by Prof. Zaha Hadid. Her project contributes to an architectural framework of ecological form and is acknowledged through several publications, awards and exhibitions.
Research Cluster 11 Tutor
Aisling O'Carroll is a licensed landscape architect, whose work bridges practice, academia and research, addressing the relationships between landscape, urbanism and ecological process. She is currently completing her PhD in Architectural Design at The Bartlett with a focus on critical approaches to preservation as design in landscape. She has previously taught design studio at Harvard Graduate School of Design, and has practised with several international firms in architecture and landscape architecture. She is Co-editor-in-chief of The Site Magazine, and founder of Scenographic Land, a platform for research and design investigation.
Research Cluster 16 Tutor and Urban Morphogenesis Lab Director
Claudia Pasquero is an architect, author and educator. She is Co-founder and Director of ecoLogicStudio, Director of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab, Lecturer at The Bartlett, and Senior Tutor at the IAAC in Barcelona. Her work is carried out at the convergence of disciplines such as biology, computation and urban design; her projects have been exhibited internationally in Karlsruhe (ZKM Collection, 2015), Milan (EXPO, 2015), Orleans (FRAC Collection, 2014), Paris (EDF Foundation, 2013), London (Architectural Association, 2011), Venice (Biennales 2006, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016) and Astana (EXPO, 2017). Claudia is co-author of 'Systemic Architecture: operating manual for the self-organizing city', published by Routledge in 2011. Claudia was the Head Curator of the Tallinn Architectural Biennale 2017, titled bioTallinn.
Luke Caspar Pearson
Research Cluster 12 Tutor
Luke Caspar Pearson is a designer who has taught at The Bartlett since 2009. He is a founding partner of You+Pea, a design research practice that was part of a collaborative team from UCL that designed and fabricated the Universal Tea Machine for the London 2012 Olympic Games. Their recent work has been exhibited at the RIBA and Peckham Levels, and they were the curators of UP-POP at the 2015 London Festival of Architecture. Luke has been a recipient of the RIBA Bronze Medal and a Leverhulme Trust Grant. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Design in Architecture at The Bartlett, exploring video games and architecture, and was awarded the UCL Graduate Research Scholarship for this work. As part of this research, he is developing a video game in collaboration with games studio Shedworks Interactive. Luke’s work has been exhibited in the Royal Academy as well as being published in journals and magazines such as ARQ, Architects' Sketchbooks, CLOG, The RIBA Journal and Interstices.
Research Cluster 14 Tutor
Dr Tasos Varoudis is a Senior Teaching Fellow, professional architect and computing engineer with research focusing on hybrid architecture, computational analysis and machine intelligence. He has considerable teaching experience with UCL, the Architectural Association and the Royal Academy of Arts. Since 2011 he has been instrumental in the spatial and architectural computation research for the Space Syntax Laboratory, where he develops new methodological and computational innovations combining spatial data-driven models with machine learning and agent-based models. He is the lead developer of 'depthmapX' spatial network analysis software, the most widely used tool in research and practice, and he is part of UCL's new Urban Dynamics Laboratory.
Research Cluster 12 Tutor
Sandra Youkhana is an architectural designer practising in London. She has worked as Research Assistant at The Bartlett for a number of years and since graduating in 2014 has taught on various programmes including Urban Design MArch and Architecture MArch. She is one half of the design and research practice You+Pea with Luke Caspar Pearson. Their work challenges various media as methods of engagement, ranging from immersive drawings, public installations, participatory video games, interactive devices, architectural ‘toys’ and 1:1 experiments.
Contributing and affiliated staff
Professor Frédéric Migayrou
Frédéric Migayrou is Chair, Bartlett Professor of Architecture at The Bartlett School of Architecture and Deputy Director of the National Museum of Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris. He was the founder of the Frac Centre Collection and ArchiLab, the international festival of Prospective Architecture in Orléans. Apart from recent publications and exhibitions (Bernard Tschumi, Centre Pompidou, 2013; Frank Gehry, Centre Pompidou 2014; among others), he was the curator of Non-standard Architectures at the Centre Pompidou in 2003, the first exposition devoted to architecture, computation and fabrication. In 2012 he founded B-Pro, a suite of postgraduate programmes at The Bartlett.
B-Pro Deputy Director
Andrew Porter studied at The Bartlett and has collaborated in practice with Sir Peter Cook and Christine Hawley CBE. In 1998 he and Abigail Ashton set up ashton porter architects, which has completed a number of award-winning commissions in the UK and prizewinning competitions in the UK and abroad. Andrew is co-leader of Architecture MArch Unit 21, and has been a visiting Professor at the Staedel Academy, Frankfurt, and a guest critic at SCI-Arc, Los Angeles, and Parsons New School, New York.
Professor Peter Bishop
Professor of Urban Design
Peter Bishop was Director of Design for London, advisor to the Mayor and Deputy CEO of the London Development Agency. He has worked on regeneration projects including Kings Cross and the Olympics. He is a director at Allies and Morrison and author of 'The Bishop Review and The Temporary City', an exploration of temporary urbanism.
Modes and duration
Full time - one year, taught over 12 months
Candidates normally need a minimum of a second-class degree from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Candidates will be asked to submit a portfolio of their design work once their completed application has been received.
Applications open for this programme on Monday 15 October 2018 and close on Friday 26 July 2019 for 2019 entry.
We strongly advise early application, as our programmes are over subscribed and competition is high.
The Bartlett School of Architecture is one of the world's top-ranked architecture schools and our graduates enjoy excellent employment opportunities.
Urban Design MArch students work collaboratively within teaching groups called research clusters, which allow students to pursue a rigorous approach to architecture within a highly speculative and creative context. Find out more about the research clusters below.
- Research Cluster 12: Luke Caspar Pearson and Sandra Youkhana
Videogame Urbanism: Allegorithmic Utopias
Luke Caspar Pearson, Sandra Youkhana
Research Cluster 12 is the Videogame Urbanism studio. We challenge the media of urban design by using videogames as an alternative model of computation to speak about real conditions, allowing people to inhabit our worlds virtually. This year we draw from Wark and Galloway’s definition of games as ‘allegorithmic’ constructions – operating between algorithm and allegory, systems and stories. By exploiting this structure, we will emphasise links between computation, visual culture, narrative and politics that reference experimental architecture and urbanism of the past. Designing virtual worlds using the Unity game engine, we will examine the agency of utopian structures in relation to contemporary society and the ‘negative utopias’ of experimental architects who sought to redefine the city through projects never designed to be built. Through our videogame urbanism we will interrogate and respond to real urban issues by developing experimental virtual worlds with logics and politics to be uncovered through their playing.
- Research Cluster 14: Roberto Bottazzi and Tasos Varoudis
Machine Learning Urbanism: City Beyond Cognition
Roberto Bottazzi, Tasos Varoudis
Research Cluster 14 explores the role of algorithms to mine, analyse, visualise, and design with very large datasets to conceive innovative urban environments. This approach is developed in response to the complex, large-scale issues affecting – and increasingly, threatening – cities globally. From climate change to massive urbanisation, the speed and scale of these transformations call for conceptual approaches and design methods able to both capitalise on technological development and conjure up new methods for design.
We consider computation as a means to expand design conversations to include urban elements that are either beyond human perception or have not been fully integrated into the design process. Algorithms augment the categories we use to interpret space. The consequences of these observations can be profound: received notions of type, programme, site, representation, and inhabitation are re-assessed to give rise to more complex, fluid, open, incomplete, and embracing urban proposals.
- Research Cluster 15: Maj Plemenitas
Cross-Scale Design: The Amphibious Laboratory
The majority of large cities are directly interfacing dynamic hydrological systems that are changing with a drastically amplified and accelerated rate and frequency. This year, Research Cluster 15 will investigate and address urgent and relevant questions associated with the rapidly evolving relationship between the built environment and intensified climate dynamics. This includes symptoms such as rising sea water, new forms of energy and food production as well as complex population dynamics.
We will engage in comprehensive architectural, urban and territorial design work. We will be developing, testing and fine-tuning a selection of specific computational design techniques, a repertoire of generative and analytic data- and matter-based methods for design decision-making, as well as scalable and transferable applications. These include the multi-objective simulations, deep learning and the embedding of computation and actuation capacity into the architectural structure and urban tissue. We will envision, prototype, design, and produce projects with capacity to adapt, develop and evolve.
- Research Cluster 16: Claudia Pasquero with Filippo Nassetti
The Inhuman City
Claudia Pasquero with Filippo Nassetti
The ‘Inhuman City’ project aims to mobilise multiple forms of intelligence, human as well as non-human, to redefine the urban. Technological evolution, in the form of synthetic biology, bio-hacking, artificial intelligence, nano-technologies, is presenting scenarios in which the city cannot be described using traditional categories such as natural and artificial, material and digital, human and not-human. In this context, boundaries are blurred and objects become ambiguous; estrangement and discomfort, ambiguity and vagueness come together with novelty and disruption.
The cluster is part of the Urban Morphogenesis Lab and engages these questions by connecting biological models, digital simulations, and advanced fabrication technologies at different levels. Information is looped between the physical and the digital realm, extracted from material systems and processed in the digital environment, to be materialised through fabrication and thus feed back into matter. Often a digital simulation is coupled with a physical model, and the tension between the two is exploited as design engine. Ambiguity becomes a feature rather than a problem to resolve.
- Research Cluster 17: Daniel Koehler, Rasa Navasaityte
Large City Architecture: Where Numbers Dwell
Daniel Koehler, Rasa Navasaityte
‘Large City Architecture’ relates to architecture like ecology to biology: it starts with the individual, the automata, and investigates into their participatory capacities at an urban scale. The new participatory thinking is foundational and at the core of many new economies, shifting the digital into the fourth industrial revolution.
Beyond the digital, the acceleration and the optimisation of mechanical processes in the past led to an entirely new socio-economic mindset, triggered by sheer quantity. But, as in the hotel market, where we see a rebundling of bed occupancy from large chains to distributed flats possessed by diverse owners, it is not pure quantity that matters now but how parts are shared. These new paradigms currently re-bundle our cities and how we dwell in them.
Research Cluster 17 uses mereology as a methodological framework to design a building through the resonance of its parts: in other words, sharing. In this mindset we will design participatory capacities that matter at a certain size. Analogous to the villa, the slab, the block, and their cities, we will look for the urban forms of participatory thinking. Oddly, when numbers compute our cities, one resides when numbers dwell.
- Research Cluster 18: Zachary Fluker, Enriqueta Llabres
Bridging Across Mass Customisation: Fab & Media Urbanism
Zachary Fluker, Enriqueta Llabres
Contemporary computer sciences – more precisely, big data technologies of searching and information retrieval – constitute a new paradigm in the history of the scientific method. This artificial form of thinking through trial, error and search derives from the anthropocentric cognitive method based on observation, hypothesis and experimental verification. An accelerated dis-analogy, this opens up an opportunity for the development of new design methodologies based on a symbiotic relationship between human thinking and machine thinking. Research Cluster 18 taps this opportunity, investigating how back-end computing infrastructure (a subordinate processor not directly accessed by the user which performs a specialised function) and front-end computing infrastructure (a device or programme directly accessed by the user) can link digital fabrication and social media. ‘Fab & Media Urbanism’ provides an opportunity for urban hacking,specifically, how to bridge across mass customisation of user products to pursue a collective project.
Image: ‘Prosthetic Ecologies’. An Empathetic Network of Computational Geology by Luis Carlos Castillo, Farnoosh Fanaian, Haem Jung
Urban Morphogenesis Lab
The Urban Morphogenesis Lab experiments with the application of recent scientific findings within unconventional computing to architecture and urban design at various scales. The aim of its research is to mobilise artificial and biological intelligence (computation) in search of a new mode of reasoning - and therefore a new mode of designing.
- More about the Urban Morphogenesis Lab
The shift to biological intelligence allows us to engage with the current disconnection between matter, information and energy and hack into natural as well as artificial morphogenetic processes in real time. As a result, we are able to discover new ways of working.
The lab operates within a speculative assemblage of objects that the lab has termed 'Objects with Universal Relevance' (O.U.R.). Each O.U.R. aims to allow novel tactics of interaction to emerge, whilst various models, supported by collective intelligence and spatial memory, reveal universal intervention strategies. Bottom-up and top-down models of planning become obsolete methods in the wake of O.U.R.
The Urban Morphogenesis Lab adopts synthetic design methods (biological and computational, analogue and digital) in order to stimulate negotiations between strategic and tactical forms of intervention. Algorithmic coding enables both autonomous speculative computation as well as the study of biological models by experimenting with adaptive and resilient design solutions applicable to a broader eco-social domain. In this sense, the Urban Morphogenesis Lab generates a range of responses at various scales from the molecular to the territorial.
Recent projects include Solana Open Aviary for the Venice Biennale 2016, the Super Material Exhibition at the Building Centre in London, the Expo Astana BioTechHut exhibition and the Architectural Biennale of Tallinn 2017 (bioTallinn) for which Claudia Pasquero was the Head Curator. The lab also produced a commission for the FRAC Center in Orleans, which is now part of the permanent collection.
Recent articles include Design Prototype for UCL Publishing 2016, Cities as Biological Computers for Architectural Research Quarterly by Cambridge University Press 2016, Solana Open Aviary for AD Hyperlocal 2016, The Morphogenetic City for TAB MATTER 2017, On the origin of the Bio-Digital City for World Architecture Magazine Beijing, among others.
The Urban Morphogenesis Lab has established a long-lasting collaboration with the European Space Agency exploring the application and algorithmic reading of data from their new satellites Sentinella 1, 2 and 3 in an architectural and urban design context.
Lab Director: Claudia Pasquero
Tutors: Filippo Nassetti, Emmaouil Zaroukas