Research on Retrofitting pre-1919 Traditional Dwellings

The topic of this research is the conflict that exists surrounding traditional dwellings and the responsibility of sustainability regarding the global climate crisis and, the responsibility of conservation and preserving the nation’s heritage. Through primary and secondary data collection, this research aims to answer the question of, do Building Regulations covering fuel and power and statutory protection of pre-1919 traditionally constructed buildings need to be re-assessed? In order to answer this question, a survey has been produced for the participation of construction and conservation professionals in the industry to uncover the causes of this conflict, current solutions and reasons the current solutions often fail.

The closing date for answering the questionnaire is 10 April 2021

The questionnaire can be found here.

AMPS Conference Call for Papers – Cities in a Changing World: Questions of Culture, Climate, and Design

Abstract Deadline: 30 March 2021 2021/

The premise of this conference is that the city is a site of interconnected problems. No single issue dominates its needs. No single discipline has the answers to its questions. As a result, the range of issues we deal with is vast. Urban designers are developing new models of settlement planning to address housing needs. Architects are renovating ever more existing buildings. Infrastructure designers are developing faster modes of transportation. Planners are demanding lower C02 emissions from industry. In a COVID-19 context healthy cities are on the agenda like never before. Policy makers are addressing grass-roots demands for regional governance.

While all such issues respond to unique and independent demands, they are all interrelated. Climate change is a perfect example. Scientists, policy makers, activists and designers the world over are engaged in the issue. Some focus on rehousing displaced peoples, others challenge throwaway culture and stress reuse. Health professionals examine disaster relief while planners look at shared transport models. Environmentalists seek to reduce energy consumption, while communities plan for resilience. At the same time, economists look to finance cleaner industries. In tackling a particular issue then, multiple disciplines are overlapping and drawing on the work of others. In short, their work is reaching beyond the boundaries of individual fields.

In looking at the city as a site of such inherent interdisciplinarity, the conference venue offers insights. New York is a city of over 8 million people. It has an affordable housing problem and, located on the coast, is threatened by rising sea levels. The site for the United States’ most iconic historic buildings, it demands 21st Century uses of them. The home of the US public health movement in the 19th Century, it was at the forefront of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. Historically a landing port for immigrants it knows the pressures of displacement and migration. A city for the wealthiest elites in the world, it exhibits poverty, social exclusion and periodic cultural tensions.

In this place, as in cites the world over, none of the issues that vex the metropolis are isolated, and none of their factors, consequences or responses are limited to single disciplines.

Research on Reducing Carbon in Ecclesiastical Buildings

A questionnaire as part of the dissertation – ‘Applications of Carbon Reducing Solutions for Ecclesiastical and Historical Buildings’. The purpose of this questionnaire is to identify what people feel are the most effective forms of carbon reducing technology, as well as the major challenges and limitations faced when implementing this technology into buildings of this nature.

If you would like to participate in completing the survey, please email for more details.

Research on BIM for Heritage

Please fill out the survey here.

The renovation of heritage buildings has become a revivification pathway to promote sustainability as well as to protect the heritage buildings’ significance and values. The complexity of the sustainable renovation of heritage buildings requires the adoption of more sophisticated technologies and project management models to improve the quality and increase their performance. This questionnaire is a preliminary study in the framework of a PhD research that aims to assess and evaluate the application of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) strategies and tools through Building Information Modelling (BIM) to enhance the sustainability aspects and efficiency of renovating heritages via better collaboration and integration. That is a vital key to the successful delivery of building projects. The objective of this study is to explore the current utilization of BIM, benefits, as well as the obstacles of its adoption on renovation of heritage buildings. The survey questionnaire is directed to owners, designers, constructors, facility managers and the various stakeholders of these projects.

Journal of Urbanism: ‘The Design of the Public Realm: Emerging Theories and Practices’

Due 26th March 2021

Call for abstracts for a special issue for the Journal of Urbanism 

‘The Design of the Public Realm: Emerging Theories and Practices’

Guest editors

Patricia Aelbrecht / Cardiff University / School of Geography and Planning

Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA, UK.

Ceren Sezer  / RWTH Aachen University/ Chair and Institute of Urban Design

Wüllnerstrasse 5b/ D-52062 Aachen, Germany.


This special issue focuses on the design of the public realm, a field of scholarship which was established in the 1980s within the urban design discipline but which has been long in the making in both urban design and sociology. The public realm has always been the chief concern of urban design and the most productive area of urban design thinking, however it continues to lack a solid and coherent body of knowledge. There are several key reasons for this.

First, the term ‘public realm’ continues to be loosely defined and applied, being often confused with public space or public life, while in essence, the public realm is the spatial and social territory of the city where public space and public life coincide (Lofland 1998). The public realm has an interdisciplinary character, both ontologically and epistemologically, focusing on the relationship between public life and design rather than on the design itself (Gehl and Svarre 2013).

Second, there is a need of further development and revision of the established theories on the public realm (Franck and Stevens 2007; Aelbrecht and Stevens 2019). The period between the 1960s and 80s was productive for thinking the design of the public realm, thanks to the studies of Lynch, White, Gehl and Alexander, just to mention a few. Their work has crossed disciplinary divides and developed new theories and methods to provide a better understanding of people’s perceptions, experiences, and uses in public spaces. However, since the 1990s there has been more interest in the application rather than advancing new knowledge on the public realm.

Third, it is noticeable that most established theories were originated between the 1960-80s and are therefore the reflection of their time, a period of significant social, cultural, and political changes marked by urban race riots and feminism, but are no longer able to respond to the emerging social and technological challenges we are facing today. Cities are changing at a faster rate than ever before, alongside it, the make-up of our societies is also changing, and there is an ongoing shift in the cultural expectations and requirements of the public realm (Fraser, 1990; Madanipour, 2003; Watson, 2006; Sezer, 2020). New technological developments are spurring the proliferation of new and more mobile forms of communication, association and social relations through various mediums across the public and private realms, which means that the way urban public space is used and experienced is also undergoing significant changes (Sheller and Urry 2003). As a result, the relations between public and private realms are becoming increasingly blurred, mobile, complex, and fluid. At the same time, attitudes towards public space are changing and becoming more varied and contested.

Fourth, the established theories on the public realm are often based on a limited range of western case studies raising questions whether they can also be applied to other European contexts and parts of the world, particularly the Global South, where the design ideals and practices are arguably different.

Fifth, since the establishment of urban design as a discipline, there has been little knowledge exchange or synergy between research, practice and policymaking in the design of the public realm. Today most urban design scholarship has little engagement or knowledge on how design practices think and work, and what are the policymaker’s needs and priorities (Griffiths, 2004). However, it is well known that enabling such transfer of knowledge, research can gain a better understanding of where new knowledge is needed, and enhance the prospects of being applied (Aelbrecht and Stevens, 2015). Practice and policymaking can also benefit by using research to improve built outcomes.

In this changing context, it is critical that urban design thinking continues to generate new ideas and thinking in relation to the design and management of more inclusive and cohesive public realms. Hence, there is a need to enlarge the public realm research, practice and policy agendas. If we want to better understand the complex nature, meaning, and roles of public space, we need more studies investigating new emerging types of public spaces, and which take into account the desires, interests and expectations of a wider range of stakeholders and users and the cultural variations of the contexts where they are embedded, and consider the needs and priorities of practice and policymaking.

This special issue aims to respond to these calls by bringing together existing and new emerging knowledge in the design of the public realm and taking a more global and comparative view on scholarly research, practice and policy in both the Global North and Global South. It intends to stimulate a discussion on the ongoing and future public realm practice, research and policy debates and agendas and open new avenues of enquiry in a number of areas, which include but are not limited to the following:

  • To rethink the established public realm design theories and practices by examining their applicability in contexts beyond the Global North. This is the case of design theories and principles of legibility, diversity, and adaptability, just to mention a few.
  • To examine and/or propose new public realm design theories and/or practices that have not yet been established or applied in public space design but have nevertheless been acknowledged to work as effective principles or tools to make more lively, inclusive and resilient public spaces. This is the case of urban design thinking related to forms of informality, temporary/tactical urbanism, congestion, just to mention a few.
  • To discuss emerging theoretical and/or methodological advances in the public realm research and design with user characteristics in terms of age, gender, disability, social, cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds in mind (e.g., intergenerational, elderly, women, children, disadvantageous users including ethnic minorities, deprived communities, homeless people, refugees).
  • To discuss emerging issues related with the Covid 19 pandemic and its management (i.e. lockdown and social distancing measures in public space’ use) and its implications on the way we think of, and design the public realm.


Aelbrecht, P. and Stevens, Q. (2015) ‘The art of knowledge exchange in urban design’, Proceedings of the ICE- Urban Design and Planning, 168: 304– 317.

Aelbrecht, P., and Quentin Stevens (2019) (eds.) Public Space Design and Social Cohesion: an International Comparison, London: Routledge.

Alexander, C. et al. (1977) A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, New York: Oxford University Press.

Franck, K. and Stevens, Q. (eds) (2007) Loose Space: Possibility and Diversity in Urban Life, London: Routledge.

Fraser, N. (1990) ‘Rethinking the public sphere: A contribution to the critique of actually existing democracy’, Social Text: 56– 80.

Gehl, J. (1971) Life Between the Buildings: Using Public Space, Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

Gehl, J., and B. Svarre. (2013) How to Study Public Life, Washington and London: Island Press.

Griffiths, R. (2004) ‘Knowledge production and the research– teaching nexus: The case of the built environment disciplines’, Studies in Higher Education, 29: 709– 726.

Lofland, L. H. (1998) The Public Realm: Exploring the City’s Quintessential Social Territory, New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Lynch, K. (1960) The Image of the City, Boston: MIT Press.

Madanipour, A. (2003) Public and Private Spaces of the City, London: Routledge.

Sezer, C. (2020) ‘Visibility in public space, a new conceptual tool for urban design and planning. In: Companion to Public Space, Mehta, V. and Palazzo, D. (eds.). New York and London: Routledge, pp 137-151. 

Sheller, M. and Urry, J. (2003) ‘Mobile transformations of public and private life’, Theory, Culture & Society, 20: 107– 125.

Watson, S. (2006) City Publics: The (Dis)Enchantments of Urban Encounters, London: Routledge.

Whyte, William H. (1980) The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces, New York: Project for Public Spaces.

Time schedule

26th March 2021: Submission of a proposal to including:

  • Paper title and keywords;
  • Author(s) name, current affiliation and e-mail address;
  • 300-word abstract;
  • Maximum five key references;
  • If applicable, two related images at a good resolution (min. 200dpi).

03 May 2021: The guest editors will inform prospective authors about the selected abstracts.

08 October 2021: Submission of full papers to guest editors. All papers need to be subject to a quality check by Journal of Urbanism editors and guest editors before formal submission.

01-15 November 2021: Submission of full papers to journal. Please note that all submitted papers should be based on‘ sound empirical’ research and specify clearly their research questions, methods and aims, and should be carefully copy edited preferably by native speakers.

Short Biographies

Patricia Aelbrecht is a lecturer in Urban Design at the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University, UK. She holds a PhD in Urban Studies and an MSc in International Planning from University College London, and a BArch and MArch in Architecture from the Technical University of Lisbon, Portugal. She is an academic with a decade of research experience on the design and sociology of the public realm. Prior to being academic, she practiced as an architect and urban designer for more than a decade in several well-reputed international offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal and Spain. She is co-author with Quentin Stevens of a book titled Public Space Design and Social Cohesion: an International Comparison (2019) with Routledge. She is co-founder and co-director with Hesam Kamalipour and Nastaran Peimani of the Public Space Observatory (PSO) at Cardiff University, a knowledge exchange platform between academia, practice and policy dedicated to public space provision, design and management.

Ceren Sezer is a research associate at the Chair and Institute of Urban Design of RWTH Aachen University in Germany. She holds a PhD and an MSc in Urbanism from Delft University of Technology and BArch in Architecture from Istanbul Technical University. She is joint editor of several special issues including: Marketplaces as an Urban Development Strategy (2013), Public Space and Urban Justice (2017) and The Politics of Visibility in Public Space (forthcoming). Her research interests include livability and sustainability of public spaces; urban form and social life in the city, and the impact of technological innovation in transforming city regions. Ceren is co-founder and coordinator of an international research group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures established under the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP).

AMPS – Urban Assemblage: The City as Architecture, Media, AI and Big Data

Based on an interdisciplinary reading of the built environment as architecture, data, technology, digital innovation, artistic creation and urban design, this conference will be organised in subject areas including:


Participants in each area are invited to propose ‘lead themes’. Reflecting the expertise of the University of Hertfordshire, the first of these lead themes is “Artificial Intelligence and Urban Assemblages”. Read More

Other proposed strands and themes include: computational design, the digital city, smart buildings, data driven urbanism, parametric architecture, art-film-photography and the city, digital accessibility, participatory technology and planning, sociology of the city, and more.

Eurac SBE21 Sustainable Built Heritage Conference: Renovating Historic Buildings for a Low-Carbon Built Heritage

Universally recognised as emblems of many cities, historic buildings account for a quarter of Europe’s existing construction. Retrofitting such buildings presents many opportunities for reducing carbon emissions but can also present many challenges for preserving historic and aesthetic traits and as such, particular and specific care is vital.

Given the unique character of each building, standard energy saving measures are often not viable. Instigating interdisciplinary procedures for renovation and developing affordable and efficient technologies which are compatible with conservation needs are essential for the survival of built heritage and for reducing its environmental impact.

The SBE21 Heritage Conference brings together scholars and practitioners working in the fields of energy efficiency and historic building conservation to foster multidisciplinary dialogues and find new retrofit approaches to save our common heritage and guarantee a sustainable future.

Call for proposals now open: Deadline 15 September, 2020

Heritage Special Issue – Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings

Link to more information here.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2021.

This Special Issue on energy efficiency in historic buildings addresses the balance between two different aspects of sustainability, i.e., environmental and socio-cultural. On the one hand, amidst growing pressure to reduce energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions, historic buildings stand for a considerable part of societal energy use that necessitates energy-efficient interventions. On the other hand, the historic building stock is an important cultural and material resource that merits management and preservation for the benefit of present and future generations. Thus, we must find ways to balance the needs of historic building conservation and energy conservation to facilitate the sustainable management of historic buildings. This Special Issue calls for research on a multitude of aspects, with various scientific perspectives, from the natural sciences and engineering to the social sciences and humanities.

The following topics are meant to illustrate the possible scope of the Special Issue rather than exclude novel topics:

  • Policies at international, national, and local levels. Conflicts of interest and ways forward;
  • Decision-making for the planning of energy refurbishment in individual buildings as well as building stocks;
  • Understanding the historic building as a technical system: simulations, risk assessment of measures, and balancing supply and demand;
  • Development of new technical solutions appropriate for various types of historic buildings;
  • Multi-criteria assessment of measures: life-cycle perspectives on environmental impacts and costs integrated with the impact on heritage values and aesthetics;
  • Users’ aspects in the planning of energy retrofits and energy management: attitudes, lifestyles, and collaboration. What are the drivers/motivators?
  • Values and valuation: historic buildings are defined by their heritage significance. How are the values defined and introduced into the decision-making process on energy efficiency?
  • Best-practice case studies presenting state of the art both in terms of achieved results and methods;
  • How is energy refurbishment planned and carried out in practice, and what are the roles for professionals in architecture, preservation, and engineering?

Prof. Tor Broström
Guest Editor

INTBAU – International Conference on Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism: Architecture and Community

Online 13-14 November, 2020

The conference is organised by INTBAU Spain, INTBAU Portugal, the Rafael Manzano Prize for New Traditional Architecture and the School of Architecture of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, thanks to the support of the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Lead Trust, through a grant from the Chicago Community Trust for the Richard H. Driehaus Charitable Fund, and the collaboration of the Fundación Ekaba, the Fundação Serra Henriques, the Escola Superior Gallaecia, the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio, and the Centro de Investigación de Arquitectura Tradicional (CIAT-UPM).

All the academics and practitioners of traditional building, architecture and urbanism that carry out their activity or are interested in the scope of the topics proposed for this conference may submit proposals to be presented at it by August 9 (academic papers) or by September 14 (other submissions).

All proposals will go through a selection process and may be accepted for being presented at the conference and/or published in the new Journal of Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism and could also be selected for both.

These proposals may be both original unpublished scientific articles or presentations on other works. The presentations of those contents which have been selected for the conference, both scientific papers or other works, will then be recorded and will be available on the conference website prior to the start of the conference itself.

The live program will focus on a series of panel discussions on the selected topics. These panel discussions will include both the selected presenters and guest speakers and will be dealing with the diverse topics of the conference. The participation of all other attendees will also be encouraged.

Registration will be free but compulsory in order to participate and must be done on the conference website.

You can find more information on both websites:

EuroMed 2020 Conference

The newly established UNESCO and European Research Area (ERA) Chairs on Digital Heritage are announcing the International Web-Conference EuroMed 2020 dedicated onDigital Cultural Heritage Documentation, Preservation and Protection

2nd – 5th November 2020, Cyprus

Topics and themes:

Researchers and practitioners willing to participate to the Web-EUROMED 2020 conference are invited to submit papers on original works addressing the following subjects and research themes:



More detail information regarding the themes can be found at:

Submission of Papers:

Submissions for the event are completely electronic through the on-line submission website available at The conference accepts only original, unpublished work written in English which will be blind-reviewed and published by the prestigious SPRINGER-NATURE LNCS. We are soliciting two types of contributions:

1.      PROJECT Research papers: they present new innovative research developments and results. They will feature a full-length oral presentation and will be published in a high-quality proceedings volume. Each submitted paper must not exceed 12 pages in total.

2.      SHORT papers /Posters: they present preliminary ideas and works-in-progress. These papers will have a short oral presentation and will be also available as posters during the entire time of the event online. Each short paper must not exceed 8 pages in total.

The 10 best submitted papers will be published on a special issue of upcoming International Journal Heritage in the Digital Era.

Due to the pandemic Covid-19 the conference will be this year online and free of charge, however the registration is mandatory