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Community-driven, nature-based design framework for the regeneration of neglected public spaces in urban environments

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Research Group: Built Environment Research Group

Proposed supervisory team: Dr Federica Pascale (), Dr Alison Pooley ()

Theme: Smart Cities

Summary of the research project:

Public space is essential to the quality of life of people living in dense urban areas, this particularly applies to vulnerable groups. However, our cities continue to harbour neglected public spaces, with a detrimental impact on social cohesion and inclusivity, especially in deprived areas.

This project aims to develop a Smart, Community-Driven, Nature-Based Design Framework for public spaces in urban environments:

• The Smart component aims to implement unobtrusive strategies to improve usability and safety of all users with particular attention to vulnerable groups.

• The Community-Driven component aims to incorporate current and future needs of local communities in the design approach.

• The Nature-Based component aims to benefit, as suggested by a relevant body of research, of the positive impact nature has on human well-being and the wider environment.

The project main objectives are:

1. Investigate current state of art on designing public spaces
2. Benchmark and challenge international exemplar case studies
3. Map and model the 4 components of the design approach through engagement activities and the use of simulation applications
4. Develop Smart, Community-Driven, Cost-Effective, Nature-Based Design Framework
5. Devising methods for testing future thinking within community around nature-based regeneration, using visualisation software
6. Test and validate the framework.

The project will involve a wide range of stakeholders including: citizen and vulnerable groups’ representative; architects, landscape architects, planners and designer; local authorities’ planners and staff; psychologist and sociologist. The project will involve extensive desk work (objectives 1); national and international case study field work (objective 2); community based workshops, interviews, focus groups and qualitative analysis (objective 3 and 5) design/development work (object 4); and visualisation techniques and immersive workshops (objective 5). The project will benefit from the collaboration with a number of UK and international partners, who will provide data to build a knowledge base for the project.

Where you'll study: Chelmsford


This project is self-funded. Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website as they become available.


Next steps:

If you wish to be considered for this project, we strongly advise you contact the proposed supervisory team. You will also need to formally apply for our Built Environment PhD. In the section of the application form entitled 'Outline research proposal', please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

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