Human perception and judgement are essential to good design. It is equally true that human capacities can be extended and focused with the aid of new ideas and new technology. We are committed to both and therefore seek to apply new ideas and techniques to the practice of urban design. At the same time we aim to bring the insights and experience of practice to bear on the development of new ideas and techniques.

We engage in research in order to develop tools to improve the way we work and produce better results. Direct experience in applying the tools in practice helps to focus our research efforts on issues that are most pressing and ensure the results of the research are relevant in practice.

Using concepts and methods developed over the past sixty years, morphological analysis provides a robust evidence base for strategic planning, design and heritage protection. By combining a range of aspects from historical development, movement, character areas, land use and townscape, the approach provides a rich view that highlights the association between aspects that give a place its identity and make it work.

Desk-based assessments can quickly establish the basic characteristics and disposition of elements for broad strategic purposes. Further, more detailed studies and field surveys can provide a higher level of resolution for purposes such as fine tuned urban design and heritage protection. The approach is particularly suited to:

  • compiling an evidence base for development plans, allocations, regeneration frameworks and neighbourhood plans
  • assessing development and regeneration options and proposals
  • undertaking Conservation Area Appraisals and characterisation studies
  • compiling heritage protection strategies
  • masterplanning and design

We have developed a simple but powerful tool for the analysis and investigation of movement within settlements. It is an easily accessible method that provides significant insights not only into patterns of movement but also the character of different areas and their role within the settlement as a whole.

Similar in a number of respects to other methods such as ‘integration’ and ‘depth analysis’, route structure analysis is particularly useful when applied to smaller settlements. The method can be applied quickly, with a minimum of resources to support a range of tasks:

  • compiling an evidence base for development plans, allocations and neighbourhood plans
  • assessing development and regeneration options
  • locating facilities
  • undertaking characterisation studies
  • masterplanning and design of development