Self-funded PhD opportunities

A pattern language of urban ecology: developing a pattern language of urban green landscapes

  • Application end date: Applications accepted all year round
  • Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only
  • Department: Portsmouth School of Architecture
  • PhD Supervisor: Professor Steffen Lehmann, Dr Silvio Caputo and Dr Alessandro Melis

“A pattern language of urban ecology” will revisit and analyse and contextualise three key texts of urban ecology (by Lynch, Alexander and Alberti) and – based on the findings – will publish an updated version of the thinking inherent in these texts to create a relevant new capstone essay on urban ecology in 2020.

Urban ecology is a science that recognises cities as mosaics combining man-made and natural habitats (Forman, 2014). This recognition comes with the awareness that ecosystem services are vital to society and that in order to be sustainable, patterns of urban development cannot damage natural ecologies. Urban ecology encroaches on many disciplines such as ecology, architecture and urban design, and climatology. This doctoral investigation will contribute to urban ecology science by exploring how the constituent elements of natural areas in cities can be used to achieve higher environmental performance and quality of the built environment. It will take its cue from and build on three seminal studies that established approaches to urban design, which we define as linguistic (that is, focusing on the elements of a language that, combined via syntax rules, generate meanings).

The aim of this doctoral study is to develop a pattern language of the urban green landscape which can be used to form patterns that perform sustainably and attain desirable functions for users in terms of quality of the public realm, well-being and socio-cultural significance. The study will revisit and learn from key texts of urban design, revisiting them under the lens of urban ecology and combining them to develop a linguistic approach to urban environmental design. It will subsequently apply the pattern language developed to case studies in the UK that present differing forms of urban development such as; high density (Portsmouth), medium density (Southampton) and a combination of both (i.e. dense centre and suburban peripheries (Brighton) (see Objectives of this investigation include:

  •  Extensive literature review on linguistic approaches to urban design and urban ecology;
  • Formulation of a pattern language for urban green landscapes;
  • Interviews with selected samples of urban dwellers to ascertain the socio-cultural value associated to the elements identified in the pattern language;Identification of environmental performance of each element in terms of factors such as air filtration, mitigation of heat island effect, increased biodiversity and more;
  • Simulation of the performance of case studies selected and recommendations for enhanced performance. 

How to apply

To apply or make an enquiry, please visit postgraduate research: Architecture, Civil Engineering and Surveying

Applications should use our standard application forms and follow the instructions given under the ‘Research Degrees’ heading on the following webpage:

When applying please note the project title.

Funding Notes: 

An appropriate first or upper second class honours degree of any United Kingdom university or a recognised equivalent non-UK degree of the same standard honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master’s degree in an appropriate subject. Exceptionally, equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered.