Alan Penn is Dean and Head of the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and Professor of Architectural and Urban Computing at University College London. His research focuses on understanding the way that the design of the built environment affects the patterns of social and economic behaviour of organisations and communities. How is it that architecture and urban design matter for those that inhabit them? How is it that the spatial design of cities and neighbourhoods leads to the generation of cultural and community identity? How is it that spatial design relate to patterns of poverty and ethnicity especially under conditions of in-migration? Under what conditions do vital and thriving creative communities occur, and under what conditions does crime and urban malaise develop?
In order to investigate these questions he has developed both research methodologies and software tools. These are known as ‘space syntax’ methods. Current research includes the development of agent based simulations of human behaviour, the development of spatio-temporal representations of built environments, investigations of scaling properties of urban spatial networks and the application of these techniques in studies of urban sustainability in the broadest sense, covering social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions.
He is a HEFCE Business Fellow, a founding director of Space Syntax Ltd, a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city masterplans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He was the founding Chair of the RIBA’s Research and Innovation Committee, and served in that role until 2006. He is Chair the Architecture & the Built Environment sub-panel 30 for the UK National Research Assessment Exercise 2008, and is a member of its Main Panel H. He is also lead academic on the £5m Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities knowledge exchange programme which is promoting more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK. He is Principle Investigator on the City History and Multi-scale Spatial Master-planning UK-China Research Network, 国际研究网络：城市历史与多尺度的空间整体规划, funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, will develop UK-Chinese academic research collaboration. He is a trustee of the Shakespeare North Trust, recently shortlisted for Big Lottery funding to build a theatre and arts centre complex, including a replica of Inigo Jones’ Cockpit at Court theatre, at Prescot in Lancashire.