Dr Kevin Thwaites BA, DipLA(Dist), PhD
Phone: +44 (0) 114 222 0620
Floor 12, The Arts Tower
Socially Restorative Urbanism & Experiential Landscape are two complimentary approaches concerned with the integrated nature of spatial organisation and social experience in urban open space.
My research interests and activities focus on two main themes, which are integrated into approaches to research-led-teaching: the theory and philosophy of urban landscape design and their impact on the intellectual underpinning and conceptual development of design processes and spatial languages; socially sustainable approaches to planning and design in urban open spaces, particularly how spatial and experiential dimensions converge to influence psychological health and well-being. These general areas of interest converge in Experiential Landscape and Socially Restorative Urbanism, a research stream concerned with applying an integrated approach to human-environment relations to place making in urban open space settings.
Module co-ordinator for:
LSC 337 Landscape Planning - Urban Regeneration
Experiential Landscape and Socially Restorative Urbanism form complimentary aspects of an internationally significant research agenda to build theory in urban morphology and a range of practical tools for urban open space analysis and design from theoretical grounding in PhD work completed in 1999. This research develops new ways of looking at the relationship between humans and environment, integrating experiential and spatial dimensions of the outdoors, to give a deeper understanding of how humans experience urban open spaces. Original participative methodologies and site analysis tools developed through experiential landscape research have been applied and tested in a range of field based projects including work related to the rural village identity, city centre urban regeneration, the place perceptions of primary school aged children, and people with learning disabilities.
The core principles of Experiential Landscape research underpins the more recent development of Socially Restorative Urbanism a new conceptual framework laying foundations for innovative ways of thinking about the relationship between urban spatial structure and social processes. It provides a platform for new directions of thinking, research and practice which re-introduce a more explicit human dimension into the decisions we make when shaping our urban habitat. By taking an integrated approach to the spatial and social organisation of the urban environment its main focus of attention is on the interface of human and material realms connecting in a common framework urban spatial design and participative processes through the development of two new concepts: the transitional edge - a socio-spatial concept of the urban realm; and experiemics – a participative process that acts to redress imbalances in territorial relationships. In this way socially restorative urbanism seeks to show how professional practice and community understanding can be brought together in a mutually interdependent and practical way. Its theoretical and practical principles are applicable across a wide range of contexts concerning human benefit through urban environmental change and experience.
Experiential Landscape and Socially Restorative Urbanism combine to provide original and innovative contributions to international discourse in socially responsive and sustainable open space planning and design. It translates theoretical principles in holistic human-environment relations into practical applications, hitherto unavailable, and in doing so bridges the disciplines of environmental psychology and urban landscape analysis and design.
Through this we seek to provide new cross-disciplinary agendas for discourse in urban sustainable living. This ongoing research agenda provided the foundations for convening a Department of Landscape Research Seminar Series in 2013, ‘Life on the Edge’, which included contributions from Dr Fei Chen, Professor Ian Bentley, Dr Ian Simkins, Dr Nicola Dempsey and Helen Woolley. Click here to see the the Online Lecture Series.
I am a co-founder and core member of an international urban design collaboration called UStED (Urban Sustainability through Environmental Design). Since its inaugural symposium in 2004 a core group of UStED members have consolidated UStED as an international Alliance to further develop and exchange ideas and methodologies for the analysis and design of socially sustainable urban spaces and disseminate this globally. The UStED Alliance consists of members from Italy, France, England, Scotland, Slovenia and the USA, who complement each other in cross-disciplinary collaboration. Such collaborations have resulted in successful research funding applications and publications, including a book, refereed journal papers and international conference contributions.
I am an active member to the work of the International Association of People-environment Studies (IAPS) and was an elected member of the IAPS Board of Trustees from 2008-2016. I am currently co-convener of the IAPS Sensory Environments network along with Dr Sarah Payne of Herriot Watt University, Edinburgh. IAPS has an international membership of over 600 scholars from over 50 countries representing a wide range of disciplines concerned with the human-environment relationship and its application in planning, policy and design contexts. IAPS is the focal point for a number of internationally significant scholarly networks and every two years holds a major international conference. I was pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute to the organisation of the Glasgow 2012 conference as one of three co-conveners representing a consortium of the Universities of Strathclyde, West of Scotland, and Sheffield.
Areas of Potential Research Degree Supervision
• Landscape architecture and urban design theory and philosophy
• Socially responsive design language and processes
• Urban social sustainability and its relationship to design decision making
• Phenomenological approaches to people-space relations and their application in open space design.
• Integrating teaching and research practices
Kaeren Harrison: Place and the Interface in Late 20th Century Mass Housing
Hao Lei: Urban Renewal of Datong in the Historic Core
Laurence Pattacini: New typologies for industrial urban river corridors
Muhamad Rosley: Characterisation of the Image of Malaysian Royal Towns
James Simpson: Professional and public perceptions in urban open space design
Adetoyese Oyedemi: Human Well-being and Residential Development Design
Qin Xu: Chinese urban squares and urban identity
Youmei Zhou: The Interaction Between Aging People and Urban Open Space in Chinese Cities
Dawei Li: Socially responsive Chinese urban square design
Gamal Taha: Ideological and physical dimensions in Egyptian urban design
Armin Bahramian: Fractal geometry and the design of contemporary landscapes
Alice Mathers: The development of participative tools and methods for people with learning disabilities
Ian Simkins: Children’s perceptions of routinely encountered open spaces
Funded Research Projects
Recent funded research activity as Principal Investigator includes:
May 2016. Transitional Edge Anatomy £256,000, The Leverhulme Trust (unsuccessful)
Sept 2013. Forgiveness in Sustainable Living (FiSL): a cross-disciplinary approach to human-environment relations in urban expansion. £1.75 Million, The Leverhulme Trust Innovations in Sustainable Living Research Programme. (unsuccessful)
Jan 2011 – July 2011. Experiential Learning from Children. £9929, UoS KTRR Fund (successful)
Sept 2010. Microenvironments: Facilitating the well-being of adults with learning disabilities in everyday environments in the UK. £1.3 Million, ESRC (unsuccessful)
Sept 2010 – Mar 2011. Experiential Mapping: community participation in learning and teaching of NOW and WISH concepts in landscape architecture. £9930, UoS KTRR Fund (successful)
Sept 2009 – Apr 2010. ARC Scotland Consultancy: Service User and Carer Participation, Involvement and Qualitative Performance Feedback. Consultancy arising from Leverhulme Experiential Landscape project to provide methodology training. £12,000.
Jan 2009 – Jun 2008. Excuse Me, I Want To Get On: Negotiating the City. £8,268, UoS KTRR Fund (successful)
Sept 2008 – Aug 2010. Experiential Landscape: a socially responsive approach to open space analysis. £156,641, The Leverhulme Trust (successful)
2013 to date: Department of Landscape Director of Student Welfare.
2004 to date: Department of Landscape Level Three Coordinator
Awards and External Activities
June 2014: Invited Academic Mentor to Young Researchers’ Workshop at IAPS ‘Transitions to Sustainable Societies; design, research and policy for changing lifestyles and communities’ international conference, Timisoara, Romania, 23-27 June 2014.
Oct 2011: Invited Symposium Convener of ‘New-aging Cities: an integrated socio-spatial approach to urban design’, symposium for ‘Continuity and Change in Built Environments: housing, culture and space across lifespans’ conference in Daegu, South Korea.
June 2010: Member of the Local Organising Committee and Partner Organisation for IAPS22, 24-29
June 2012 in Glasgow ‘Human Experience in the Natural and Built Environment: implications for research, policy and practice’, collaboratively organised by The University of Strathclyde, University of Sheffield and University of West of Scotland.
May 2010: Appointed as member of the ‘Urban and Rural Development’ Standing Evaluation Panel of the Swedish Research Council, Formas.
Jan 2010: Short teacher exchange programme with SLU, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.
Oct 2009: Invited paper contribution to ‘Trends in Research and Practice’ lecture series, Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde.
July 2008: Invited paper contribution to Home Zones symposium at International Association of People-Environment Studies (IAPS) conference, Urban Diversities, Biosphere and Well-Being: Designing and Managing our Common Environment, Rome 25 July – 1 Aug 2008.
July 2008: Invited paper contribution to inaugural Restorative Environments network symposium at International Association of People-Environment Studies (IAPS) conference, Urban Diversities, Biosphere and Well-Being: Designing and Managing our Common Environment, Rome 25 July – 1 Aug 2008.
Mar 2007: Invited key note speaker at the Seven Mirrors international conference organised by the Centre for Place and Learning, Stockholm, Sweden.
Apr 2007: Invited key note speaker at the Royal Society of Architects, Wales (RSAW) Spring School. Jointly organised by the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, in association with the Landscape Institute in Wales. Portmerion, Wales, UK.
Sept 2006: Invited contributor to the Children, Youth and Environment (CYE) international network symposium at International Association for People-Environment Studies (IAPS) international conference ‘Environment, Health and Sustainable Development’ Alexandria, Egypt September 11-16, 2006
Nov 2006: Invited key note speaker at 'The Experience' lecture series, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK.
Mar 2005: Invited contribution from Kirby Hill Parish Council to apply newly developed public participation methodology on local place perception as part of the development of a Village Design Statement.
Oct 2005 – Feb 2006: Invited contribution to three day Operators of Spatial Analysis research programme at University of Milan, Dipartimento di Progettazione dell’Architettura, investigating the use of experiential landscape analytical tools in Milan in association with collaborators from Slovenia, Italy and UK.
Sept 2004: Invited speaker to Analysis of Public Spaces and Policies for Public Life in Cities conference, 27 January 2004, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Oct 2004: Invited public lecture ‘Innovations in Research and Practice’ lecture series, Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde.
Jan 2012 – Dec 2015: MA Urban Design, Department of Architecture, Oxford Brookes University.
Oct 2010 – June 2014: MSc Urban Design, Department of Architecture, University of Strathclyde.
Sept 2005 – June 2009: University of Essex, Writtle College, Landscape and Garden Design undergraduate modular programmes.
June 2002 – Dec 2002: University of Sheffield, Department of Landscape.
Dec 1997 – July 2001: Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, Landscape Architecture Undergraduate Modular Scheme
Advisory Boards and Steering Groups
Oct 2015 – date: Steering Group Committee Member, Castlegate Regeneration, Sheffield
Oct 2014 – date: Member of the Plot-based Urbanism development consortium
May 2010: Academic External Advisor to review and re-approval of landscape architecture post-graduate programme, Birmingham City University.
June 2008: Elected to the Board of Trustees of the International Association of People-Environment Studies.
Jan 2007 – Dec 2008: Member of the Advisory Board of the Multi-modal Representations of Urban Space Research Project, University of Strathclyde. (AHRC/EPSRC funded).
April 2004: Appointed External Academic Advisor to the Post Graduate Courses Review and Validation Panel, Faculty of the Built Environment, University of Central England.
June 2003: Landscape Institute Annual Review Group Panel Member, University of Newcastle, Landscape Architecture Group, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape.
Apr 1995 – Jan 1997: Member of the Schools of Landscape Architecture Research Working Group. Established to discuss and organise workshops and seminars to raise the national and international profile of research activity in UK landscape architecture.
I completed my education in Landscape Architecture at Leeds in 1983 with the BA Degree and Graduate Diploma with Distinction in Landscape Architecture. Since then I have worked in private practice and higher education, completing a PhD in 1999. Prior to moving to the University of Sheffield in 2003 I was Course Leader for Undergraduate Programmes in the Landscape Architecture Department, Faculty of Health and Environment, Leeds Metropolitan University. I now research and teach in the Faculty of Social Sciences at The University of Sheffield, where my work is focused on the development of theory and practice in Experiential Landscape and Socially Restorative Urbanism. Teaching is closely related to research in these areas and focuses on design of urban open space, particularly urban landscape design theory, human-environment relations and spatial languages. Research interests include the philosophy and theory of landscape design, the relationship between spatial organisation and experience and its impact on design languages and processes. More details can be found by visiting the Experiential Landscapes website.
- Thwaites K, Mathers A & Simkins IM (2013) Socially Restorative Urbanism: the theory, process and practice of experiemics. Oxon: Routledge.
- Thwaites K & Simkins IM (2007) Experiential Landscape:an approach to people, place and space. Oxon: Routledge.
- Mathers AR, Thwaites K, Simkins IM & Mallett R (2011) Beyond Participation : the Practical Application of an Empowerment Process to Bring about Environmental and Social Change. Journal of Human Development, Disability, and Social Change, 3(19), 23-43. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K, Simkins I & Mathers A (2011) Towards Socially Restorative Urbanism: Exploring Social and Spatial Implications for Urban Restorative Experience. Landscape Review, 13(2), 26-39. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K & Simkins I (2008) Revealing the Hidden Dimensions of Place Experience in Primary School-aged Children. Landscape Research. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K & Simkins I (2005) Experiential landscape place: Exploring experiential potential in neighbourhood settings. Urban Design International, 10(1), 11-22. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K, Helleur E & Simkins IM (2005) Restorative urban open space: Exploring the spatial configuration of human emotional fulfilment in urban open space. Landscape Research, 30(4), 525-547. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K, Romice O, Porta S & Greaves M (2016) Urban Design and Quality of Life In Pol E (Ed.), Handbook of Environmental Psychology New York: Springer. View this article in WRRO
- Thwaites K & Simkins I (2010) Experiential Landscape: exploring the spatial dimensions of human emotional fulfillment in outdoor open space. In Abdel-Hadi A, Tolba MK & Soliman S (Ed.), Environment, Health and Sustainable Development (pp. 1-296). Gottingen: Hogrefe.
Conference proceedings papers
- Simpson J & Thwaites K (2016) Transitional Street Edges: an empirical investigation through eye tracking. The Human Being at Home.Leisure and Work
- Lange E, SHAO Y & THWAITES K (2015) Improved Photographic Representation of Human Vision for Landscape Assessment. Systems Thinking in Landscape Planning and Design (pp 90-100)