The Bartlett School of Planning


João Bento

Research subject

Thesis Title: The role and effectiveness of national architecture policies in the European Union: the cases of Ireland, Scotland and The Netherlands

Primary supervisor: Professor Matthew Carmona
Secondary supervisor: Dr Stephen Marshall
 Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

Start Date: October 2008
Projected Completion Date: October 2015

Since the beginning of the nineties there has been a growing recognition of the importance of design quality for social and cultural development, wealth creation and economic well-being. To support this goal, several European countries have been developing formal policies on Architecture to promote better built environments and more sustainable places. Reflecting on the wide diversity of cultures across the European Union (EU), some member states produced design guidance addressed to clients and stakeholders, others established architectural cultural institutions oriented for the general public, while others have produced built environment educational programmes within the schools curriculum. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify a growing tendency for the development of national policies on Architecture, where the Government assumes an important role of leadership placing design quality high on the political agenda and setting a new set of design policy tools.

The focus of this research is to examine the role and impact of national policies on Architecture. A first level of analysis is to characterize the different types of national Architecture policies and to examine in what extent its adoption across the EU has been influenced by an Europeanization process. A second level is to explore the policies discourse to understand the main values and ideas that underlie a formal policy on this domain and what are the main issues that the policies are intending to address. A final level is to examine what has been the impact of formal Architecture policies into processes of design governance based on a comparative study of three case studies: Ireland, Scotland and The Netherlands. As such, this research is a theorization of Architecture as public policy, a methodology for the study of this phenomenon and a comparative study of national Architecture policies implemented by a selected number of member states.


João Bento has a degree in Architecture and Urban Planning from the Faculty of Architecture, University of Lisbon. In this moment, he is undertaking a PhD research at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL.

Before starting his PhD, João worked in several research projects at the Architecture and Town Planning Division of the National Laboratory of Civil Engineering (LNEC), in Lisbon, Portugal. In this framework, he was responsible for developing architectural guidelines for police stations and security forces facilities. He has also worked as a practising architect carrying out small projects for private clients.

Since 2006 that João collaborates occasionally with the Portuguese Order of Architects developing research reports, publishing articles and organizing conferences. In 2007, he was responsible for the organization of the Portuguese edition of the European Forum for Architecture Policies. More recently, he was the author of the comparative study on public policies on Architecture (July 2013) and the guest editor of the newspaper Arquitectos (September 2013).

In 2008, he assumed the secretary of scientifically association, called Ad Urbem (Association for the development of urban Law), being responsible for the organization of scientific meetings, conferences and lectures. In 2010, he coordinated the publication of the proceedings of Ad Urbem annual conference dedicated to the national law of spatial planning and town planning.

João taught as Post-Graduate Teaching Assistant at the Bartlett School of Planning, UCL (module ENVS1018 Introducing Urban Design: Design Skills). He was funded by a doctoral scholarship of the Foundation of Science and Technology (FCT) from the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Portugal. 

Publications and other work


Bento, J. (2013), ‘Síntese do estudo: politicas públicas de arquitectura na Europa ‘, in Boletim Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 231.

Bento, J. (2013), ‘Estudo comparativo de políticas públicas de arquitectura: Dinamarca, Escócia, Finlândia, Irlanda, Noruega, Países Baixos’, report for the Portuguese Order of Architects, Lisbon.

Bento, J. (2012), ‘Survey on Architectural Policies in Europe’, European Forum for Architectural Policies, Lisbon, Portugal.

Gonçalves, F., Bento, J. (2008), ‘Política sem arquitectura, território sem memória’, in Jornal Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 232.

Gonçalves, F., Bento, J. (2007), ‘Fórum Europeu de Matosinhos: O despertar da política de arquitectura e paisagem?’, in Boletim Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 179.

Bento, J. (2007), ‘Fórum de Matosinhos: o elo que não se quebrou’, in Boletim Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 176.

Bento, J. (2007), ‘Fórum Europeu das Políticas de Arquitectura em Portugal’, in Boletim Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 175.

Cabral,J., Gonçalves, F., Cunha, J., Bento, J. (2006), ‘Proposta Metodológica sobre a Qualificação e Responsabilização dos Autores dos Planos de Urbanismo e de Ordenamento do Território’, report for the Secretary of State for Spatial Planning and Cities, Ad Urbem.

Bento, J. (2006), ‘Viena: Meios para melhorar a qualidade arquitectónica’ in Boletim Arquitectos, Portuguese Order of Architects, n.º 162.

Conference Presentations

Bento, J. (2013), ‘Architectural Policies in the EU: the case of Ireland’, presentation at the 4th National Congress of Croatian Architects, Osijek, Croatia, 27-29 September 2013.

Bento, J. (2011), ‘Survey on Architectural Policies in Europe’, presentation at European Forum for Architectural Policies, Budapest International Conference, Hungary, 4-7 May 2011.

Bento, J. (2011), ‘Architectural Policies in the European Union’, presentation at internal meeting of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning (VROM), The Hague, The Netherlands, 27 April 2011.