The Urban Design Studies Unit at Department of Architecture has secured funding from the Sir David Anderson Bequest Fund to support Michael Mehaffy’s one-year collaboration on issues of sustainable urban design theory, practice and education. The Fund is aimed at supporting “the field of science and technology … to invite distinguished persons preferably from corresponding institutions on the continent of Europe or failing that America to visit the University…to take an active part in the teaching and/or research”.
The project matches the SDA contribution with support form the Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Architecture to ensure Michael’s work on a programme of 6+6 months starting on Jan 15th 2011, during which he will:
– Substantially contribute to studies of urban morphology by finalizing ongoing work on the “400mts rule”, an evidence-based theory of evolutionary urban form.
– Expand the international profile of the MSc in Urban Design by organizing an international workshop and seminars as integrated part of the course experience.
– `Finalize the proposal for a new, distance learning based, Higher Programme in Urbanism especially oriented to attract international and part-time students.
Michael Mehaffy is an internationally prominent researcher in the relation of urban morphology to climate change and sustainability, and the emerging set of urban design tools known as “sustainable urbanism,” “morphogenetic design” and “evidence-based design.” He is also a well-respected inter-disciplinary scholar integrating work in complexity science, urban design, philosophy of science and other fields. His leading stature in the field was recognized when he was invited to present a paper at last year’s International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) Scientific Congress on Climate Change in Copenhagen, a briefing session for the Copenhagen treaty negotiations. In November of this year he was invited to present a paper on urban morphology and its impacts at the prestigious Athens Dialogues on Culture and Civilization, an interdisciplinary forum sponsored by the Onassis Foundation in partnership with the Universities of Harvard, Oxford, Stanford and others. Michael’s cross-sector background has contributed to his leading expertise in emerging new models of design theory, integrated with new insights of evolutionary biology and other fields like computer and network sciences. Michael is one of the closest collaborators with the design pioneer Christopher Alexander, where he has helped to develop new approaches to pattern languages and morphogenetic design. Michael is the former Director of Education at The Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment in London, where he was responsible for creating a new professional education programme in sustainable urban design (now a Masters’ degree programme at the University of Oxford). He was also Coordinator of ESUA/EDUAC (www.esua.org), a pilot project for the creation of a new curriculum in sustainable urban development funded by the European Union’s Leonardo da Vinci Programme. Michael is also a prominent member of the Congress of New Urbanism in the US, an organization that stands at the forefront of innovation in the practice of sustainable urbanism and is noted for its close working relationship with the Obama administration. Michael sits on the editorial boards of three peer-reviewed international journals of Urban Planning and Design, and his 2008 paper for the Journal of Urbanism was reported to be the most downloaded paper in the journal’s history.