Portsmouth School of Architecture
Our Research Degree Students
How is Agritecture moving farming beyond earth? Transitions from Niche to Norm
Before agriculture, there was no urban. Today - the production of food is increasingly mediated by technologies. Modern soilless growing techniques are changing the face of how and where we can ‘do’ food. These new modes of farming depend on architectures in order to synthesise and move elements of landscape. Agritecture (agriculture+architecture) is a relatively new term, used to denote “the art, science, and practice of incorporating agriculture into the built environment” (vertical-farming.net). This research seeks to investigate the potential (and risks) of Agritecture and its proponents to disrupt our existing food systems, and to draw out pathways that can contribute to the transition of Agritecture from niche to norm.
More information on the Beyond Earth blog.
Emerging Places of Social Innovation (POSI) in the Co-Production of Space Between Multilevel Stakeholders: The Case of Productive Urban Green Infrastructure
Recent international policy advocating for social innovation to be part of strategies to promote sustainable urban development because of the notion it may directly lead to societal value in solving social problems has energised an emerging body of literature. At the same time, Places of Social Innovation (POSI) are physically emerging in the urban landscape in the co-production of space between multilevel stakeholders. Here, the term ‘Places of Social Innovation (POSI)’ is defined as the place-based process of urban change in the collaborative planning, design and delivery of public infrastructure; physical and social between bottom-up citizens, intermediary non-governmental organisations, and top-down government institutions. In the context of urban austerity measures following the 2008 global financial crisis, combined with a growing interest in collaborative approaches to spatial development, social innovation is positioned to play a central role in meeting the needs of citizens at the local to global scale towards addressing grand societal challenges. However, little attention has been paid so far to the role of social innovation in the co-production of space. There is a need for more sector-specific research to comprehend the spatiality of social innovation, co-operative processes, and place-scale relations.
In response, this study analyses how Places of Social Innovation (POSI) emerge from socio-spatial innovation processes occurring at different organisational levels, spatial scales and geographical contexts. First, it identifies how the case of productive urban green infrastructure, illustrated here by community gardens, orchards and productive landscapes, is co-produced between multilevel stakeholders through social innovation in Brighton & Hove and Portsmouth. Second, it determines and classifies the influence of contextual dynamics and multilevel stakeholder agency on this phenomenon. Moreover, through interpreting key processes, sequences and patterns a conceptual framework of social innovation is developed into a dynamic model of Places of Social Innovation (POSI).
Therefore, this study aims to explain the relationship between processes of socio-spatial innovation and the co-production of public infrastructure with the objective to advance conceptual knowledge of social innovation in collaborative place-based development.
- 1st Supervisor: Dr Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Urban environment and health are connected
Pathways to poor health have multifaceted contributors that include environmental factors, lifestyle choices, inherent sensitivities, social capital and economic status. Compared to third world countries where communicable diseases, poverty and slum dwelling go hand in hand; in the UK there is a direct correlation between socioeconomic status, place of residence and non-communicable disease levels despite living in a home with the luxury of modern amenities such as heating, water and sewage plumbing.
Social inequities in health are defined by the uneven distribution of social conditions and determinants and these clearly play their part at individual city local levels. This is evidenced by people who live in the same city in higher socioeconomic wards, living longer, presenting with lower levels of non-communicable disease when compared to people living in lower socioeconomic wards. However, what if there is an additional, undiagnosed, missing link?
My research will evaluate and compare, the as yet, undefined unrecognized perceived neighbourhood environmental influences that are contributing to the health and wellbeing status of residents living in two or more contrasting socioeconomic wards within Portsmouth, Hampshire. A clearer recognition of environmental factors that are contributing to health inequalities will help guide local government agencies take responsibility for regeneration of areas. Health can then be improved through creating opportunities for high levels of community participation that will lead to high social cohesion, reduced fear of crime, improved security and services, provision of green spaces, walkability, active transport and availability of good food (Marmot, 2015)1.
1 Marmot, M. (2015). The Health Gap. The Challenge of an Unequal World. London: Bloomsbury.
- 1st Supervisor: Dr Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira
Streetscape design and temporary appropriation of public space in the world heritage of Mexico City Centre
A vast literature discusses the physical attributes of built environment for the purposes of creating lively and inclusive public spaces through temporary appropriation by citizens. Here, the term “temporary appropriation” is defined as the act in which people use and appropriate public spaces to carry out individual or collective activities other than the purpose that the space was originally designed for. Public spaces that allow and facilitate temporary appropriation as usually perceived as a desirably, because it means that the citizens feel identified with their built environment. So far, very little attention has been paid to the role of streetscape design facilitating a temporary appropriation.
This investigation analyses the relationship between the streetscape design and temporary appropriation in Mexico City Centre. Firstly, it identifies the urban design elements of the streetscape that are related to temporary appropriation, and secondly, it determines and classifies the activities in which citizens appropriate the streets through specific activities. Moreover, it analyses the existing legal framework regarding the use of the street as public space and its management within the specific area of study.
Therefore, this PhD study aims to unriddle the relationship between the streetscape and temporary appropriation in order to clarify design patterns aimed to improve and maintain the world cultural heritage site of Mexico City Centre.
1st Supervisor: Dr Alessandro Melis
The social and environmental implications of the emerging sustainability trends on the built environment of the city of Algiers
This PhD project aims at contributing to the development of the concept of sustainable design in Algeria, with an emphasis on the city of Algiers. The proposed research will assess and evaluate the Algerian strategic plan which was adopted to transform Algiers into a mega city by 2030. The analysis will identify the environmental and social impacts of the strategic plan on the built environment of Algiers in order to provide a better understanding, among planning, design and architecture professionals, of the implications of the emerging sustainability trends in the country.
- 1st Supervisor: Dr Silvio Caputo
How studying the performance of traditional houses of the historical city of Homs can inform the design process and performance of future regeneration of the residential urban fabric of the old part of Homs
Studying the building performance of traditional houses of Homs, Syria
Different researches on courtyard houses in Syria claim that the traditional courtyard houses offer excellent solutions for natural ventilation. These researches recommend rebuilding these houses in modern cities in Syria. The use of black basalt, courtyard’s square shape, and the absence of the wind catchers makes the traditional courtyard houses in Homs, a central region city in Syria, stand out from other counterparts in other cities in Syria. Architects are claiming that natural ventilation systems in these houses helps in creating thermal comfort for occupants and save a significant amount of energy from mechanical air-conditioning systems. However, there is no absolute proof or study that these courtyard houses in Homs can provide acceptable natural ventilation or thermal comfort rates in today’s urban context.
Nowadays, as a result of the Syrian crisis, those traditional courtyard houses within the city centre of Homs have been largely damaged and few were demolished. Consequently, they are threatened of being replaced by new modern blocks since most of these houses are not listed as historic buildings. Therefore, my research aims to spot the light on the embodied traditional knowledge of neglected traditional houses of the historical urban fabric of Homs. In addition to investigate possibilities to reconnect the future architecture of the City of Homs to its traditional architecture while maintaining higher building performance and being culturally accepted by the current generation As a result of the study, I am hoping to produce design suggestions and solutions of the implementations of the traditional architectural features/elements within new buildings in Homs. Different sets of virtual environmental analysis will be used to prop these aspects in current state of the houses as well as after the proposed regeneration strategies.
- 1st Supervisor: Dr Tarek Teba
Regenerating the compact city through urban farming: nature-based solutions for social, economic and environmental sustainability
Currently, climate change and the depletion of natural resources are the main concerns worldwide. It is increasingly understood that cities are engines of economic powerand for that reason, they have a crucial role in shaping the ecological future. However, there is a growing gap between urbanisation trends and what is really important to shift to a more sustainable urban form. The crucial element for creating more liveable cities is the improvement of contemporary patterns in food growing, processing, transporting and retailing. Therefore urban farming has become a prominent topic of public discourse as an important element of urban regeneration, which can bring a number of social, environmental and economic benefits.
Urban farming is considered as one of the solutions for high- density cities to improve urban climate and increase the number of green areas while providing the productive reuse of urban organic waste and reducing the urban energy footprint. Urban gardens can build a sense of community, encourage a healthy lifestyle and provide new employment. Additionally, farms in urban areas can be implemented in a way that mimics natural cycles, the flow of nutrients and cooperation between plants and animals, which contributes to the production of healthy food for urbanites.
My research aim is to identify urban farms, which are based on solutions created by nature and investigate their influence on urban regeneration, which leads to social, economic and environmental sustainability. Another important aspect of the study is to analyse barriers and challenges for urban agriculture in high- density cities. This will lead to the development of guiding principles for the implementation of urban farming as an important solution for the regeneration of compact cities.
- 1st Supervisor: Prof. Steffen Lehmann
Our Research Areas
We invite PhD applications in the following research areas:
Matter of the Manor', material conversations at Wymering Manor, Cosham, Hants
Interior Design Practice
- Representation theory and practice
- Mapping the environment
- Interior design theory and practice
- Materials and application
- Emodied methodologies and practice
- The retail environment
- Adaptive reuse of historic and existing building
Heliopolis 21 Architects (Alessandro Melis, Gian Luigi Melis, Nico Panizzi), Stella Maris Research Institute and Hospital, Pisa (Italy), Architectural Competition 1st Prize, 2016
- Environmental design systems
- Sustainable environments and design
Interior Architecture and Design students using 'card games' to analyse and assess design projects
Architecture Design Pedagogy and Theory
- Design pedagogy (studio culture)
Vauban, Freiburg, Germany
Architecture and Urban Design, Regeneration and Related Issues
- Urban planning
- Urban histories and cultures
- Architectural history and theory
- Urban conservation and regeneration
- Green Infrastructures
- Sustainable urban design
- Urban design history, theory and analysis
- Coastal settlements
- Landscape design