Mike is a Senior Lecturer in urban design in the School. After working as a planner in development control at the start of his career he moved to the Department of Civic Design at the University of Liverpool in 1992. He moved to Cardiff in 1999.
His research interests embrace a number of themes. He has written about whether and how planning systems should deal with design issues, and linked this to developments in the political economy and urban governance. He has written about neighbourhood planning and design, and has a keen interest in the design of residential environments. He has researched and written about the design of shared street spaces. He is starting to think about the relationship between drawing and thinking in urban design research and practice.
Mike established the MA Urban Design at Cardiff University and was the Course Director for the first three years. It is one of the School’s most popular and successful programmes offered jointly with the Welsh School of Architecture. He is currently developing a specialist design route through the School’s MSc International Planning and Development, involving overseas studio work.
Mike is a trustee of Play Wales. He is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. He has worked on design review and done design training for the Design Commission for Wales. He is now an Advocate in Practice for them. He is recognised as an Urban Design Practitioner by the Urban Design Group and is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
- BA(Hon) Geography/Cartography, Oxford Brookes (1988)
- MA Urban Design, Oxford Brookes (1991)
- MPhil, Cardiff University (2010)
- Member of the RTPI (1998)
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
- Recognised Practitioner in Urban Design (2009)
- Planning Assistant, Oxford City Council, (1989 - 1991).
- Lecturer in Urban Design and Development, Department of Civic Design, University of Liverpool, (1992 - 1999).
- Lecturer in Urban Design, City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, (1999 - 2004).
- Senior Lecturer in Urban Design, City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, (2004 - today).
Memberships and External Activities
- Member of the Royal Town Planning Institute
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
- Recognised Practitioner in Urban Design, Urban Design Group
- Editorial Board, Urban Design International, 2008 -
- Executive Editor, Urban Design International 2006-2007
- Editorial Board, Built Environment Journal 2004 – 2006
- External Examiner, International Graduate Diploma in Architecture, University of Newcastle, 2012 - 2015
- External Examiner, MA Urban Design, University of Newcastle 2011 - 2014
- External Examiner, MA Urban Design, University of Westminster, 2006 – 2009
- Advocate in Practice, Design Commission for Wales, 2007 -
- Design Review Panel Member, Design Commission for Wales, 2004-2007
- Convenor, SE Wales Urban Design Network (network of public sector urban design professionals)
- Trustee of Play Wales 2010 - 2014
- RTPI Urban Design Advisory Group Member 2010 – 2012
- Organising Committee, Smart City Expo, World Congress, Barcelona 13th – 15th November 2012
Design and Access Statement Research
Design and Access Statements are required as supporting documents for many planning applications. They are produced as a mechanism to prove that design and access issues have been properly dealt with in relation to schemes. Commissioned by the Welsh Government, Mike is part of a team researching the effectiveness of Design and Access Statements in Wales, to explore how their use might be improved.
The Urban Village: A Real or Imagined Contribution to Sustainable Development
Funded by the ESRC, this research examined the value and utility of the urban village concept. The research determined whether environmentally deterministic, socio-spatial presciptions associated with the concept were realised in practice; whether urban village design and planning principles accorded with resident aspirations; and how the development concept and its implementation informed existing socio-spatial theory in the built environment field.
Home Zones: Planning and Design Handbook
Funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and supported by The Children's Play Council, Transport 2000, The Architecture Foundation and Sustrans, this project has involved producing a good practice guide for the planning and design of home zones.
Awards for Housing Design
Funded by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, this project reviewed the nature of awards for housing design in England and considered the extent to which involvement of house builders and designers in the awards has influenced the quality of housing being developed in the nation.
Building for Life: Wales
Funded by the Design Commission for Wales, the work has involved researching recent best practice in residential design in Wales. Case studies will be used to illustrate to developers and local authorities what can and should be achieved. More details can be found at the DCfW Case Studieswebpage.
Introduction to Residential Layout
Published by the Architectural Press, this book outlines the key theories and principles which should be applied in the design of residential areas using examples from the US, UK, Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and Austria.
An international review of liveable street thinking and practice
Building on my interests relating to liveability and street design I have been working with international colleagues to produce a special edition of Urban Design International which looks at current thinking and practices relating to the theme.
Design Quality Brokerage
Employed by a UK urban regeneration company, I am advising upon and reviewing an innovative approach to securing design quality in major urban regeneration schemes.
Urban Design and the UK Urban Renaissance: The Liverpool Experience
Coordinated by Prof John Punter, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and supported by CABE, Design Commission for Wales and Architecture and Design Scotland, I was one of a number of academics doing research into the the impact of urban design on the development of a UK city during the last 15 years. My work focussed on the renewal that has occurred in and around Liverpool city centre. The work was published in Punter J V, Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance, and as an extended article "Urban design, regeneration and the entrepreneurial city" in Progress in Planning.
Life in Their Street: Observation Studies of Innovative Street Environments
Funded by the UK's Urban Design Group Research Initiative this research used observation methods to look at patterns of life in innovative streets which comply with the new guidance in The Manual for Streets. The research looked at 6 innovative residential environments across the UK and compared them with 3 traditional environments. The work was done during the summer holidays when the children were at home. The work explored whether residents use the environments differently, how and why. In some instances the work employed time lapse cameras to record activity. The work found that the new environments were used differently, with evidence of more children's play and some more socialisation by adults.
An example from the work can be found at Planning Blog - playing it safe.
Presentation to the Urban Design Group Conference, October 2011.
Drawing and thinking in the practice of place making
A new direction in Mike’s research interests is to explore how practitioners represent the built environment and how these forms of representation link to their design thinking. He has recently published Drawing and thinking: Representing Place in the Practice of Place-Making in the Journal of Urban Design. This is a theoretical piece exploring how to study practice through a socio-semiotic lens. He is now preparing to complete some empirical work in this area, involving a bid to the AHRC.
Plan It Online
Working with Andrea Frank, Mike is leading a team in a bid under the AHRC Connected Communities funding stream to explore whether and how aspects of community involvement work related to design work might be put online. Working with design practitioners, computer scientists from the University of Glamorgan and Cardiff based app designers, the project will deliver a series of practical tools.
Mike has been teaching urban design at every level of higher education for over twenty years.
He has taught a BSc 2 module of Site Planning and Development which combines his interest in site planning and residential layout. A successful module, it contains a significant input from a surveyor so that students can combine an understanding of physical planning with a concern for commercial property development. Mike also teaches a BSc 3 module on Design Development and Control which examines how the British planning system should deal with design issues, whilst also examining the current state of retail, residential and sustainable construction thinking and practice in the UK.
At the post graduate level Mike established the very successful MA Urban Design which is run jointly with the Welsh School of Architecture. When established it was the first degree offered by two Schools in the University. The programme currently has more applications than any other programme offered by the School. On this programme his teaching commitments have varied. He has contributed to a theory module Urban Design Thinkers. He ran a community involvement element in Developer and Community Perspectives which required students to engage in a community involvement task related to their design work with a real community. He ran a design studio for a number of years which looked at masterplanning a major urban extension. This involved a lot of input from willing local practitioners. He contributed to the induction sessions (now known as Urban Design Foundation) introducing a series of basic exercises allowing students to explore basic urban design principles through practical work.
He has supervised numerous dissertations and projects and is currently supervising 3 PhDs, including two jointly with other Universities.
He is very committed to field visits and has led many UK and overseas visits, typically to the Netherlands or Germany. He has been an external examiner for the MA Urban Design at the University of Westminster. He is currently the external examiner for the MA Urban Design and a Graduate Diploma in Architecture, both at Newcastle University. Currently he is helping to develop a design route through the MSc International Planning and Development, and is helping to design a studio module Designing Cities which will look at site for development in developing countries.