Alan is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment and a founding director of Space Syntax Ltd, a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city masterplans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He is a member of the Space Group, an EPSRC Platform funded research group. He was the founding Chair of the RIBA’s Research and Innovation Committee, and served in that role until 2006. He was Chair of the Architecture & the Built Environment sub-panel 30 for the UK National Research Assessment Exercise 2008, and a member of its Main Panel H. He is the Chair of the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel 16 and a member of Main-panel C for the Research Excellence Framework 2014. He was the lead academic on the £5m Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities knowledge exchange programme which promoted more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK. He was Principal Investigator on the City History and Multi-scale Spatial Master-planning UK-China Research Network, funded by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to develop UK-Chinese academic research collaboration. He is a trustee of the Shakespeare North Trust and of the Institute for Sustainability.
His research focuses on understanding the way that the design of the built environment affects the patterns of social and economic behaviour of organisations and communities. How is it that architecture and urban design matter for those that inhabit them? How is it that the spatial design of cities and neighbourhoods leads to the generation of cultural and community identity? Under what conditions do vital and thriving creative communities occur, and under what conditions does crime and urban malaise develop?
In order to investigate these questions he has developed both research methodologies and software tools. These are known as ‘space syntax’ methods. Current research includes the development of agent based simulations of human behaviour, the development of spatio-temporal representations of built environments, investigations of urban spatial networks and the application of these techniques in studies of urban sustainability in the broadest sense, covering social, economic, environmental and institutional dimensions.