Welcome to my website. I am Matthew Carmona, Professor of Planning and Urban Design at The Bartlett School of Planning, UCL. This website provides a repository for my research and writing, including my blog: Urban Design Matters. I hope you find it useful.
My own research interests stem back to my time studying architecture at the University of Nottingham when, unexpectedly, the opportunity was offered for me to also study planning at Masters level. I jumped at the chance, discovered urban design, and have never looked back.
After completing my Masters I worked as an architect in private practice although was obviously not quite ready to leave university (and in fact never did), as in 1992 I signed up to do a PhD (part-time) under Prof Taner Oc at Nottingham. My PhD focussed on residential design guidance and began a line of research that I have pursued ever since and which I now call Design Governance. Soon after starting the PhD I applied for and got a job as a researcher working with Prof John Punter, first at the University of Reading and later at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow. Together we wrote the book, The Design Dimension of Planning.
When, two years later, that project finished, I was fortunate to return to the University of Nottingham were I secured a job as a lecturer. It was there that I conceived my best known book, Public Places Urban Spaces: The Dimensions of Urban Design. Faced with a new class in urban design theory to teach and an absence of a suitable text book, I decided to write my own. Later I was joined in that endeavour by my great friend and colleague, the late Dr Steve Tiesdell.
Three years after joining Nottingham the University (in its wisdom) decided to close the programme on which I was teaching. This spurred me into applying for a lectureship at University College London (UCL). I joined UCL in 1998 and, again, never looked back. UCL is an immensely rich and rewarding place to work for someone interested in the built environment, and here my research interests and work have burgeoned.
At UCL I have addressed questions of value and design, urban design and regeneration, public space design and management, the measurement of ‘quality’ in planning, space and place-shaping in London, and broadly everything to do with the governance of design and the theory of urban design. It has brought me into contact with amazing students and fantastic colleagues including Prof Sir Peter Hall, Wendy Clarke, Prof Nick Gallent, Dr Claudio de Magalhaes, Dr Filipa Wunderlich, Dr Lucy Natarajan and Valentina Giordano, all of whom with which I have collaborated.
Between 2003 and 2011 I was Head of The Bartlett School of Planning and since stepping down I have led the development of the Urban Skills Portal (USP) and the formation and development of the Place Alliance, which I now chair. The Place Alliance focusses on collaborating and campaigning in England to raise issues of place and design quality up the national and local political agenda.
In 2016 I was Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on National Policy for the Built Environment and in 2015 I won the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Academic Award for Research Excellence. In 2016, thanks to a fantastic team of volunteers, the Place Alliance won the RTPI Sir Peter Hall Award for Wider Engagement. Finally in 2018 I founded and launched place-value-wiki which is an open source repository for evidence on the health, economic, social and environmental benefits of a better designed built environment.
The work goes on …