Sergio Porta

Prof

  • United Kingdom

19992024
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Personal profile

Academic / Professional qualifications

Professor of Urban Design, Director of Urban Design Studies Unit.

Former Head of Department (2011-2014).

Personal Statement

I am professor of Urban Design, Director of UDSU - Urban Design Studies Unit, Course Director of the MSc in Urban Design, and former Head of Department at the Department of Architecture.

I am interested in what makes our cities a great place to live in, raise children, learn stuff, run business and have fun, for us as well as for the next generations, still remaining human. At the core of it all there is one game-changing lesson: the quality that makes our cities sound and enjoyable does not come by design. It comes by the uncoordinated efforts of people and organisations in time. Basically, it comes from history and evolution. Once you have digested this simple truth fully and in all its aspects - and indeed it takes time - then everything changes. Adaptability becomes paramount, people crucial, informal participation more important than formal participation, and you as a designer begin thinking differently. Ultimately, "design for change" becomes much more than a buzzword: it means that your mission is just to ensure the conditions (primarily spatial and environmental, in our case) for those uncoordinated efforts to emerge and evolve in a way that maintains the systems in operation (resilience) and is good for all (sustainability).

We at UDSU pull together urban morphology, environmental psychology, "classic" urban planning analysis, advanced spatial analysis and community engagement into a science of urban design for change. We do all what we can to do that through an evidence-based approach across everything we do. For example, we are developing a new ground for understanding urban evolution by taking the long-standing analogy with biological evolution to a higher level, that of the empirical science. By doing that, we exit the analogical, and enter into the ontological level of the relation: both living and urban spatial systems, along with cultural, social, economic and ecologic, are complex adaptive systems. 

And yes, we love making masterplans, good-old masterplans that work in time by informing a truly democratic process of urban change in time.

Research Interests

My research sits in three areas: 1. Urban Morphology and Street Network analysis, 2. Construction and Therapy, and 3. Urban Design. Overall, I am trying to set up a scientific approach to urban form production and evolution, with a focus on people/environment relations and direct community construction.

More in detail:

I conduct joint research on street networks and spatial centrality with physicists like Vito Latora, Luciano Da Fontoura Costa and Marc Barthelemy. This research is about mapping centrality in urban spaces and establishing correlations with relevant dynamics such as land-use, vehicular or pedestrian flows, crime and real-estate values. A summary of this stream of research has just been published (http://www.udsu-strath.com/5-publications/5-1-articles/articles-2010-networks-in-urban-design-six-years-of-mca-research/).

I also like to think of street network as one of the many characters of urban form. My recent work is increasingly about the quantitative, systematic and comprehensive approach to urban morphology in a truly evolutionary perspective. That entails the statistical definition and characterization of different types of urban forms (urban form taxa) in order to measure their similarity and ultimately infer “parental” relationships between them; this is named Urban MorphoMetrics. Our first foundational paper in this area is here: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2399808317725075, and the link to urban form resilience is here: http://www.urbanform.org/online_public/2017_1.shtml. But the best is coming up soon. Stay tuned! 

I work with students and communities to the real construction of buildings through a process of direct and collective design/construction, named Construction and Therapy, inspired by Chris Alexander. The involvement of end-users throughout three phases (Land Exploration, Pattern Language and Conception&Construction) is a crucial step towards "healing the people and healing the land" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksQ3DSu-X44). This generates a radical re-think of architectural education, that I am experimenting at: www.BuildingBeauty.org.  

In urban design and masterplanning, my latest research links up to Urban MorphoMetrics by exploring sustainable/human/resilient urban analysis and design. The theoretical development of my ideas on urbanity and change, as developed thrpugh about 15 years of academic work with colleagues at UDSU (http://www.udsu-strath.com) is presented in Masterplanning for Change, our new book soon on shelves (June 2020) for RIBA Publishing. Preliminary papers are here: http://www.udsu-strath.com/3-research/masterplanning-for-change-design-as-a-way-to-create-the-conditions-for-time-sensitive-place-making/; http://www.udsu-strath.com/5-publications/5-3-udsu-wp/working-papers-2011-plot-based-urbanism/).

Keywords

  • urban design
  • public space design
  • spatial analysis
  • urban regeneration
  • adaptive urbanism

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Sergio Porta is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • 5 Similar Profiles
urban design Earth & Environmental Sciences
urban morphology Earth & Environmental Sciences
Urban planning Engineering & Materials Science
network analysis Earth & Environmental Sciences
pedestrian Social Sciences
open space Earth & Environmental Sciences
beauty Social Sciences
planning Social Sciences

Network Recent external collaboration on country level. Dive into details by clicking on the dots.

Projects 2009 2024

Urban Form Resilience: Morphometrics Foundations and Urban Design Practice

Porta, S. & Le Roux, M.

15/12/1815/12/21

Project: Research - no external fundingResearch (Internally Funded)

Selected Research Output 1999 2020

Plot-based urbanism: towards time-consciousness in place-making

Porta, S. & Romice, O., 2014, Dortmunder Vorträge zur Stadtbaukunst [Dortmunder Lectures on Civic Art]: New Civic Art . Mäckler, C. & Sonne, W. (eds.). Sulgen, DE, Vol. 4. p. 82-111 29 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Urban planning
Conceptual design

Networks in urban design. six years of research in multiple centrality assessment

Porta, S., Latora, V. & Strano, E., 20 Sep 2010, Network science complexity in nature and technology. Estrada, E., Fox, M., Higham, D. J. & Oppo, G-L. (eds.). Springer, p. 107-130 23 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

urban design
connectivity
global trade
engineering
World Wide Web
129 Citations (Scopus)

Elementary processes governing the evolution of road networks

Strano, E., Nicosia, V., Latora, V., Porta, S. & Barthelemy, M., 1 Mar 2012, In : Scientific Reports. 2, 8 p., 296.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
urbanization
empirical analysis
urban area
road
road network

Optimizing urban structure: toward an integrated new urbanist model - urban nuclei and the geometry of streets: the 'emergent neighborhoods' model

Mehaffy, M., Porta, S., Salingaros, N. & Rofè, Y., Jun 2009.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access
File
urban structure
pedestrian
mathematics
geometry
Geometry

The network analysis of urban streets: a primal approach

Porta, S., Latora, V. & Crucitti, P., 2012, Environment and planning. Thrift, N., Barnes, T., Peck, J. & Batty, M. (eds.). London, Vol. A. p. 247-276 29 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

network analysis
spatial cognition
methodology
urban design
economic geography

Correlating street quality, street life and street centrality in Tripoli, Libya

Remali, A. M., Porta, S. & Romice, O., 28 Apr 2014.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access
File
Facades
Complex networks
Land use
Transparency
Innovation

Construction and therapy: an integrated approach to design build

Russell, P., Porta, S., Romice, O. & Vidoli, M. P., 16 Oct 2014, Working Out: Thinking While Building: Paper Proceedings from the 2014 Fall Conference of the Association of the Collegiate Schools of Architecture . p. 98-108 10 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

The Form of Gentrification: Common Morphological Patterns in Five Gentrified Areas of London, UK

Porta, S., Venerandi, A., Zanella, M. & Romice, O., 7 Nov 2014, 34 p.

Research output: Working paper

Open Access
File
gentrification
Statistical methods
urban sociology
Industry
statistics

Masterplanning for change: lessons and directions

Feliciotti, A., Romice, O. & Porta, S., 13 Jul 2015, Book of Proceedings AESOP Prague Annual Congress 20 15 : Definite Space – Fuzzy Responsibility. Macoun, M. & Maier, K. (eds.). p. 3051-3065 15 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book

Open Access
File
resilience
Sustainable development
sustainability
urban design
Ecology

Plot based urbanism: a roadmap to masterplanning for change

Romice, O. & Porta, S., 27 Jul 2015, In : Academy of Urbanism Journal.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
inhabitant
urbanization
prediction
rate
city

The road to masterplanning for change and the design of resilient places

Romice, O., Porta, S. & Feliciotti, A., 21 Dec 2017, 1, 1, p. 11-26 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
road
evidence
Group
urban design
city

Street quality, street life, street centrality

Remali, A. M., Porta, S., Romice, O. & Abudib, H., 30 Nov 2015, Suburban Urbanities : Suburbs and the Life of the High Street. Vaughan, L. (ed.). London, p. 104-129 26 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Planning

Masterplanning for change: design as a way to create the conditions for time sensitive place-making

Romice, O., Porta, S., Feliciotti, A. & Barbour, G. C., 6 Jun 2017, Placemaking: Rethinking the Masterplanning Process. AlWaer, H. & Illsley, B. (eds.). London, p. 195-207 13 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Adaptive systems
Sustainable development
Trajectories
urban design
urban system

Spatio-temporal analysis of micro economic activities in Rome reveals patterns of mixed-use urban evolution

Fiasconaro, A., Strano, E., Nicosia, V., Porta, S. & Latora, V., 16 Mar 2016, In : PLOS One. 11, 3, 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
microeconomics
Urban growth
Spatio-Temporal Analysis
urbanization
urban areas

The city and the grid: building beauty at large scale

Porta, S., Rofè, Y. & Vidoli, M., 4 Apr 2016, A City is Not a Tree, 50th Anniversary Edition. Mehaffy, M. (ed.). p. 163-181 19 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

Open Access
File
beauty
UNO
Planning
Urban planning
urbanization
redevelopment
resilience
regeneration
Redundancy
amenity
12 Citations (Scopus)

Form and urban change: an urban morphometric study of five gentrified neighbourhoods in London

Venerandi, A., Zanella, M., Romice, O., Dibble, J. & Porta, S., 30 Nov 2017, In : Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design. 44, 6, p. 1056-1076 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
gentrification
urban morphology
Economics
urban sociology
social impact

Urban design and quality of life

Romice, O., Thwaites, K., Porta, S., Greaves, M., Barbour, G. & Pasino, P., 13 Aug 2016, The Handbook of Environmental Psychology and Quality of Life Research. Fleury-Bahi, G., Pol, E. & Navarro, O. (eds.). Cham, p. 241-273 33 p. (International Handbooks of Quality-of-Life).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Open Access
File
urban design
quality of life
urbanization
experience
well-being

The production of cities: Christopher Alexander and the problem of "System A" at large scale

Porta, S., Rofè, Y. & Vidoli, M. P., Oct 2016.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Open Access
File
beauty
Planning
participation
planning
city

The timeless way of educating architects: a new master in "Building Beauty" in Naples, Italy

Moore-Alexander, M., Zecchi, E., Russell, P., Vidoli, M., Caperna, A., Romice, O. & Porta, S., 28 Oct 2016. 25 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceProceeding

Open Access
File
beauty
architect
Italy
Education
Project management
Open Access
File
regeneration
housing
self-organization
self organization
housing development
7 Citations (Scopus)

On the origin of spaces: morphometric foundations of urban form evolution

Dibble, J., Prelorendjos, A., Romice, O., Zanella, M., Strano, E., Pagel, M. & Porta, S., 10 May 2019, In : Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design. 46, 4, p. 707-730 24 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
sanctuary
Cluster analysis
Taxonomies
building
coverage

Correlating street network and urban blocks in the city centre of Tripoli

Remali, A. M. & Porta, S., 31 Jan 2017, (Accepted/In press) In : Urban Morphology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

garden city
city center
town
Libya
domination

The "neighborhood unit" on trial: a case study of the impacts of urban morphology

Mehaffy, M. W., Porta, S. & Romice, O., 3 Apr 2015, In : Journal of Urbanism . 8, 2, p. 199-217 19 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

File
urban morphology
pedestrian
best practice
natural resources
energy

Multiple centrality assessment: understanding and designing mixed use streets in professional masterplanning

Porta, S., Strano, E., Venerandi, A., Adam, R., Romice, O., Pasino, P. & Bianchi, G., Jan 2013, In : Urban Design. 125, p. 12-14 3 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

transportation planning
urban design
urban system
crime
regional analysis

Responding to complex urban challenges with integrated research in education: case study of a Master in Urban Design programme

Romice, O., Mehaffy, M., Porta, S. & Thwaites, K., Jun 2012, Vulnerability, Risks and Complexity: Impacts of Global Change on Human Habitats. Kabisch, S., Kunath, A. & Schweitzer-Ries, P. (eds.). Ashald, Gottingen, Vol. 3. p. 299-310 12 p. (Advances in People-Environment Studies; vol. 3).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

File
education
methodology
ability
Teaching
student

Street centrality and the location of economic activities in Barcelona

Porta, S., Latora, V., Wang, F., Rueda, S., Strano, E., Scellato, S., Cardillo, A., Belli, E., Cardenas, F., Cormenzana, B. & Latora, L., May 2012, In : Urban Studies. 49, 7, p. 1471-1488 18 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

type of economic activity
economic activity
economics
urban planning
Spain
80 Citations (Scopus)

Street centrality and land use intensity in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Wang, F., Antipova, A. & Porta, S., Mar 2011, In : Journal of Transport Geography. 19, 2, p. 285-293 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

File
Land use
land use
census
floating
road network

Plot-based urbanism and urban morphometrics: measuring the evolution of blocks, street fronts and plots in cities

Porta, S., Romice, O., Strano, E., Venerandi, A., Morello, E., Viana, M. & Da Fontoura Costa, L., 2011, (Unpublished) Glasgow: University of Strathclyde, 41 p.

Research output: Working paper

File
Watersheds
DNA
Industry
Open Access
File
Urban planning
Conceptual design

Design for change: five proxies for resilience in the urban form

Feliciotti, A., Romice, O. & Porta, S., 31 Dec 2016, In : Open House International. 41, 4, p. 23-30 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
File
urban design
resilience
urban morphology
urban system
Redundancy

Activities 2006 2021

International Seminar on Urban Form

Ombretta Romice (Participant), Sergio Porta (Chair), Alessandra Feliciotti (Organiser), Martin Fleischmann (Organiser)
29 Jun 20213 Jul 2021

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganiser of major conference

Uppsala University

Sergio Porta (Visiting researcher)
2 Dec 2019

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesVisiting an external academic institution

Impacts

Spatial research for improved community engagement and rationalisation of urban resources.

Ombretta Romice (Participant), Sergio Porta (Participant)

Impact: Impact - for External PortalProfessional practice, training and standards, Environment and sustainability - natural world and built environment

File