Welcome to Meta Berghauser Pont's promotion lecture for professor: measuring urban form to empower architects and planners to perform their art with the precision required.
Cities have the potential, if designed and planned well, to contribute to sustainable development. An integral evidence-based design approach is needed to make strategic and accurate design choices with comprehension of consequences, both positive and negative. Urban Morphology provides the solid scientific base to describe and measure urban form and understand its impact on various aspects of urban life. In practice, however, design solutions must deal with many impacts, trade-offs and conflicts, requiring methods, models and tools to systematically simulate and assess designed futures.
The lecture summarises insights from Meta Berghauser Pont's research conducted in the field of Urban Morphology and Urban Design. The development and application of the Spacematrix method for measuring density has contributed to advancements in Urban Morphology by linking qualitative to quantitative descriptions of urban form. Further, the integration with network theory has contributed to bridging three associate research fields: Urban Morphology, Space Syntax and Urban Ecology. This integrated quantitative approach has aided our understanding of pedestrian movement, segregation and biodiversity in cities.
The lecture also presents an outlook toward the future research agenda involving two branches. First, the study of how the combination of densification and urban greening affects people and the planet. The earlier research has highlighted that densification has positive effects on the economy, sustainable mobility and use of resources, but partly negative environmental, social and health impacts. Research on the impact of greenery shows the opposite, while the combination, denser and greener cities, gives incomplete results with the risk that practice sets aside densification. To tackle this, multiple variables and effects must be studied simultaneously at multiple scales, ideally using longitudinal data. Second, the development of a knowledge infrastructure that compiles, summarises and makes research, data and tools accessible to overcome the research-to-practice gap and support an integral evidence-based design practice.
In case you missed Meta Berghauser Pont’s promotion lecture for Professor on the 6th of November, you can use the link to the video below: