Urban research at UCL


Urban research at UCL draws on a rich heritage of ideas including the path breaking insights of figures such as Patrick Abercrombie, Peter Hall, Ruth Glass and Reyner Banham. The engagement between UCL and wider public debates over the future design and planning of cities is a distinctive feature of our research.


The focus on cities at UCL has a strong international dimension building on extensive networks across Europe, Africa , Asia and the Americas.


Our research build on the full spectrum across the arts and sciences ranging from civil engineering to film studies, from urban history to the latest developments in architectural design.


At the UCL Urban Laboratory we wish to encourage thinking and research that is critical, independent and interdisciplinary. There are four main cross-cutting areas of activity that currentlydirect our work:


1. Housing and dishousing

We explore diverse kinds of human shelter and settlement, aiming to improve housing for lower income city dwellers, and to understand and contest the evictions that have accompanied many contemporary and historical forms of urbanization.

2. Ecology and metabolism

 We tackle urgent questions regarding political ecology, urban nature, and public health, re-conceiving relationships between cities, environments, people and infrastructure.

3. Change and crisis

 We study urbanization and the restructuring of cities from varied perspectives, analysing the effects of cycles of investment and disinvestment, and the mobilization of citizens and built environment professionals in response to instability and critical situations.

4. Imagination and design

 We have a strong focus on urban culture, design and aesthetics; the representation of cities of the past, present, and future as well as their challenges to representability; and the relations between different urban imaginaries and material conditions.

5. Data and place

We consider emerging configurations between the informational and material city, and the possibilities of new technologies in empowering citizens within everyday urban life and the production of the city, and in forging and maintaining social networks.

We are also keen to focus on the development of two cross-disciplinary methodological strategies:


1. Collaboration and experimentation

We believe that in order to address the most challenging urban complexities, knowledge about cities, and methods of urban research, need to be produced collaboratively and publicly, with the participation of citizens, as well as those excluded from citizenship.


2. Internationalisation and comparison

In order to address conditions of globalisation, and challenge epistemological and geographical hierarchies in urban studies, we prioritise the internationalization of urban theory, research and practice, and the development of innovative comparative frameworks.



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Friday, 30th October 2020
UCL Urban Laboratory
c/o UCL Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management
2nd Floor
1-19 Torrington Place
London WC1E 7HB
020 7679 1890
E-mail urbanlaboratory[at]
Copyright: 1999-2011 UCL

Last updated: 21st April 2020