AMPS Calgary – Cultures, Communities, and Design: The Countryside

The Countryside’ – a polemically generic term Rem Koolhaas has recently used to reposition debates about our cities to those of rural areas. While posited as ‘new’, it is, in reality, a well established mode of thinking. Through notions such as the peri-urban for example, geographers, sociologists, architects, urban designers and regional economists have all debated the urban-rural relationship for several decades. Under this framework we are obliged to consider the city and its architecture on its own terms, but also address the ‘rural’ in its particular context and, importantly, explore the parallels and mutual influences at play.

ICE journal Engineering History and Heritage: Digital Tools for Historic Structures

Champion: Bill Harvey, Bill Harvey Associates Ltd, UK; and Jackie Heath, Project Director at Ramboll and CARE Accredited Engineer, UK

Full submissions by: 15 June 2021

Contact for more information

Find out what you need to do before submitting your articleThe use of Building Information Modelling, laser scanning, 3D photography and the associated processing tools  brings many benefits for the understanding and conservation of historic structures. However, the applications of these digital tools, which were often developed with new structures in mind, brings different challenges when used in the historic environment. Research and project experiences are developing quickly.

This issue will showcase successful uses of a range of digital tools and honestly examine where the technology did not quite live up to expectations and the lessons that can be shared. Topics covered will include but aren’t limited to:

  • Laser scanning of historic structures, technology, uses and benefits
  • 3D imagery
  • Post processing of digital data
  • Using BIM in the historic environment

Submit your abstract now

Register to Contribute to European Heritage Open Days 2021 in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland each year the Department for Communities, Historic Environment, coordinates the annual Europe wide event held during the second week in September in nearly 50 countries, to celebrate local architecture, history and culture. Each year hundreds of properties and locations in Northern Ireland open their doors and organise events to the public free of charge.

To once again celebrate Northern Ireland’s built heritage, European Heritage Open Days (EHOD) 2021 will be taking place from 6 to 12 September:

. •         events at historic places will take place on 10- 12 September

•           online events will take place from Monday 6 to Sunday 12 September

We are writing to invite you to take part in EHOD 2021 because you may have a building of historical or architectural interest, are an event organiser, community group… with a story to share. Please share this among organisation contacts you have that might have an interest in getting involved with EHOD 2021.

Getting Involved

There has never been a more exciting time to be a part of EHOD and so whether there is a local character or connection to a local figure of note you would like to celebrate, a historic area you want to see recognised or simply want to tell the story of your home, workplace, or community we would love you to take part. This year EHOD is offering both an in person visitor experience, (dependent upon current restrictions that may be in place in September) and a digital offering. Register for EHOD here

EHOD offers the opportunity to showcase the stories and places you care about. We don’t define “heritage” – that is up to you!

The only requirement we have is that your place, space or story is provided free of charge to the public for EHOD and it has heritage at its core. 

This year the theme is “Inclusion-exploring our hidden history together.”  European Heritage Days has always been about bringing people together to appreciate the heritage and culture right on their doorstep.  For EHOD 2021 we want to go one step further and ensure that EHOD is accessible to everyone with events and activities right across Northern Ireland that interest people from all cultures and backgrounds.

APT Bulletin – Materials Themed Issue

The Association for Preservation Technology International (APT) and the APT Technical Committee for Materials seek abstract submissions for a special materials-themed issue of the APT Bulletin. This special edition will focus on the controversies, challenges, and developments in architectural materials conservation and preservation philosophy and practice. We are seeking articles centering on challenges in materials science, materials conservation, or preservation design concerning specific individual architectural materials or material assemblies. Articles could illustrate debates surrounding materials selection or use differing international viewpoints, unique technical interventions, cross-discipline collaboration, and substitute materials. We invite submissions focusing on materials aspects of architectural conservation and preservation technology such as but not limited to the following:  

• Challenges and issues in materials testing methods and testing programs. 

• Conservation debates illustrated by the treatment of a specific material. 

• Evolving standards in materials conservation. 

• Lessons learned in materials conservation. 

• Philosophies in conservation of architectural materials. 

• Sustainability and architectural materials. 

• Unique factors involved in the deterioration of materials. 

Pertinent materials include but are not limited to: 

• Wood. 

• Architectural surface finishes. 

• Cement and concrete. 

• Ceramic and fired-clay materials. 

• Earth. 

• Metal. 

• Mortar, plaster, and renders. 

• Polymers/plastics. 

• Stone and masonry materials. 

Submission Guidelines 

Authors are encouraged to submit extendedabstracts including an outline of the paper fitting within the thematic issues listed. Case studies must include what the author(s) learned from this case study and why it is relevant to the theme of the issue. Each abstract must be: 500 – 1000 words and include an outline of the article. Please submit up to four images. Please also provide a bio of 50 words or fewer. Send to: with the subject line as follows: APT TCM Bulletin – Abstract – [Author’s Last Name].

Submission Deadline: April 1, 2021

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.