Department of Architecture blog Looking at, and representing the city in whole new ways

Head shot of Dr Ombretta Romice

Dr Ombretta Romice

Find out more about Dr Ombretta Romice's work.

Today, digital technologies offer urban designers and architects tremendous possibilities for understanding, conceptualising, representing and communicating ideas, concepts, strategies and values about places. This field is ever expanding, and our Urban Design Studies Unit in the Department of Architecture is at the forefront of its innovation.

We try to contribute with our research to develop new, accurate and imaginative ways to study, represent, model, plan and design all of those things that “make up” our cities. It is a long and exciting journey that we have developed in several areas over many years. We use both traditional and novel methods to interrogate the city, and make new discoveries.

Street Centrality

Whilst our work on street centrality and place potential is world-renowned in the study of cities as complex systems, we are starting to relate it to the study of form links to social and economic issues, and in planning future development, as illustrated in the papers Centrality measures in spatial networks of urban streets and Form and urban change : an urban morphometric study of five gentrified neighbourhoods in London.

Urban Morphology

Our work in urban morphology is helping develop and represent our understanding of how the form of cities shares patterns across time and geography, how they have changed in time, and how trends in professional urbanism can be precisely traced. This topic has been explored in the paper Alterations in scale: patterns of change in main street networks across time and space.

Evolution of Urban Form

Our most recent effort is a first step in establishing a theory of evolution of urban form, and in representing those important links between the elements that make up places, published in the paper On the origin of spaces: Morphometric foundations of urban form evolution.


We use urban morphology to study and represent the resilience of places: linking historic data to many measurements of form, we are starting to understand the effects that form has on the physical, social and economic sustainability of places. This work is a large ongoing part of our research and interest, and is expanding strongly, so keep an eye on our UDSU page. The related papers are Design for change : five proxies for resilience in the urban form and Urban regeneration, masterplans and resilience : the case of the Gorbals in Glasgow.

Placemaking – designing the resilient city

We design places, using novel analytical and modelling tools, which make the process of masterplanning and place-making flexible, resilient, socially and environmentally sustainable. We work across scales, and have devised unique approaches to work at each scale, and to link scales. Please see our most recent chapter Masterplanning for change : design as a way to create the conditions for time sensitive place-making. 

CPD course on Urban Design Representation

All the above research on the representation of space has now been used to create a cutting edge CPD course in Urban Design Representation, tailored for planners, architects, urban designers who want to learn some of the most useful and innovative tools in urbanism. We offer this course through individual modules, or as a series. We also offer bespoke programmes, tailored to specific requirements of our clients.

The next course starts in October 2017. More information on the CPD course can be downloaded below:

Please note that UDSU is engaged in many other initiatives. We will continue to post on this blog, but for the moment you can visit for fuirther information.