1.55 - From research in urban morphology to professional planning practice

Project Description

The debate on urban morphology includes two fundamental issues: comparative studies and the relation between research and practice. On the one hand, the dominant morphological approaches have been mainly developed back-to-back; on the other hand, there is a feeling among urban morphologists that the main theories, concepts and methods that are being proposed are not been applied in professional practice, undermining their potential impact on the urban landscape. This on-going PhD project aims to deal with these two major issues by proposing a ‘Methodology for morphological Analysis and Prescription’ (MAP), that be able to integrate different morphological approaches and to inform planning practice. The MAP is based on three positions that have been reinforced by the debate: i) a consistent system of morphological description and explanation is fundamental both in the ‘analysis’ and in the ‘proposal’ (Marshall and Çalişkan, 2011); ii) different morphological approaches taken in isolation are not able to capture all the urban complexity, with clear advantages in the integrated combination of these tools to structure the stages of analysis description, and prescription (Oliveira, 2016); and iii) a correct morphological analysis leads to a better prescription (Samuels, 2013). The MAP integrates three different morphological approaches – historico-geographical (Whitehand, 2001), process typological (Cataldi et al., 2002) and space syntax (Hillier, 2007) – and three morphological concepts – morphological region, typological process, and segment analysis. The validity of this methodology is demonstrated in a case study in the city of Porto.

Research Team
  • Cláudia Monteiro
  • Paulo Pinho (Supervisor)
  • Jeremy Whitehand (co-supervisor)

Financial Support
  • FCT PD/ BD / 110996 / 2015
Stage of Progress
  • Started in December 2015