The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis


Richard Sobey


Research working title: The spatialization of resistance in the smart city: spaces of challenge for disruptive modes of citizen participation

Principal Supervisor: Prof. Mark Tewdwr-Jones
Secondary Supervisors: Dr Filipa Matos Wunderlich and Dr Jens Kandt
Start date: September 2020;  Projected completion date: September 2024

Richard has a specific interest in smart cities and citizen participation; urban social movements and disruptive innovation.   While there is a normative industry focus on smart urbanism harnessing data analysis as an efficient tool for city management (mobility/transport, environment/sustainability, security and wellbeing), Richard is interested in those socio-political elements also delivered or shaped by digital assets and infrastructures and the use of embedded and embodied technologies:   how the city as an interface means we inhabit - or are excluded from - a trans-reality informed by data narratives (embedded in time and space) as cultural expressions or operative modes of power that come to define us.

He is also interested in tactical urbanism, playable cities, place-making and place-shaping, particularly temporary interventions developed with communities, community consultation labs, gamified and trans-reality site-specific performance/durational events and installations.   

Richard was awarded an MRes in Interdisciplinary Urban Design by UCL Bartlett School of Planning, where he focussed on contestation and spaces of resistance in the smart urbanism.   He was a Visiting Research Fellow at University of Leeds in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries in the Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications from August 2013 to August 2017 and has a Postgraduate Diploma in Design Innovation Strategy.


Richard is a Creative Inter-disciplinary Practitioner, Designer and Consultant, specialising in strategic project, programme and organisational development in the Place-making, Urban Planning, Cultural and Heritage sectors.   

He collaborates with artists, technologists, architects, planners and communities to make impactful experiences in the public realm specifically designed to inform decisions on projects, programmes and policy.   These experiences make temporary changes to the managed environment, urban or rural, to challenge understandings and expectations about what we can do and what we can affect in local neighbourhoods and gathering places.   They aspire to effect permanent change in how we think about space and how we design the urban environment.   His academic research complements this professional activity, allowing him to continue to evolve his thinking and practice.


Myers, M., Watkins, D. & Sobey, R. (2016) 
Extending story-worlds through social media. 
Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 21:3, 431-437, 
DOI: 10.1080/13569783.2016.1194193

Sobey, Richard & Spanton, Sarah (2017) 
Researching Resilience and Prosperity through Culture:   Harlow, UK
ISBN:     978-1-9997972-0-1    London:  DELVE, 2017

Sobey, Richard & Haddon, Chris (2018) 
70/70 Vision:  making conversation matter
ISBN:     978-1-9997972-1-8    London:  DELVE, 2018