Lucy Bullivant

Dr Lucy Bullivant is a place strategist, curatorial director, award-winning author, keynote speaker, the founder and Creative Director of Urbanista and a London Met PhD graduate. She completed her PhD at London Met in 2014, entitled ‘From Masterplanning to Adaptive Planning: understanding the contemporary tools and processes for civic urban order’ which was an examination of the scope of contemporary urban design and planning tools which can act as alternative qualitative methodologies for the renewal of urban conditions at multiple scales.

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Lucy Bullivant

From masterplanning to adaptive planning: understanding the contemporary tools and processes for civic urban order

Prof. Peter Carl

Prof. Nick Bailey, University of Westminster and Dr Renata Tyszczuk, Sheffield University

My research is an examination of the scope of contemporary urban design and planning tools and processes which can act as alternative qualitative methodologies for the renewal of urban conditions at multiple scales through adaptive methods embracing change, stresses and shocks affecting societies and the city as a growing epicentre of human inhabitation and complex systems. With growing urbanisation, the question of what constitutes liveable urbanism across urban territories is a critical one.

Addressing the lack of unified and culturally aware analysis of the evolution in urban design and planning practice being applied in various contexts across the developed and developing world, I have, through my own international research programme over more than 15 years, traced their potentials for incubating renewal through a collection of published outputs, each with their own approach: a book, essays for the media and for exhibition catalogues and a webzine.

Through examination I have learned about the capacities of tools and processes to break with silo thinking and damaging legacies of the past, and to adapt, or to forge new instrumentalities in ways that are context-responsive and situational. My focus has been on studying largely ongoing, phased projects, so this is a work in progress. This self-appointed intellectual mandate for comparative urbanism has required a form of evaluation that includes consideration of the use and mis-use of history and old rules, operational narratives and contestory factors, enquiry into assumptions made, responsibilities claimed, and objectives combining issues of determination (of plans, by their clients) and self-determination (of communities).

I have striven to show how the recognition of planning baggage and the emptying out of its tactics, is, in diverse ways, creating space for alternative behaviors in the form of new, potentially more socially equitable and responsive patterns of operation, engaging and reusing resources. I have learned that new hybrid processes of top down and bottom up planning, and interest in engaging with multi-modal approaches with their relative novelty and unprecedented forms of complexity, represent major challenges to long-held beliefs about planning’s role in society and the typical relationships between planner and those planned for. They foster a sense of the symbiotic relationships, interdependencies, alliances and self-determination cities need to generate their futures in socially equitable and resilient ways.

My body of research will help inform and contribute methodologies and concepts to future outputs on related themes concerning urban design and planning’s role and identity, including issues of, my webzine. The wider implications of my research are also that institutions involved in land use of all kinds accordingly need to carry a responsibility to adopt a higher commitment to the value of and need for adaptive instruments of civic urban order.

Lucy Bullivant PhD Hon FRIBA is a place strategist, curatorial director, award-winning author, a keynote speaker, the founder and Creative Director,, her webzine on liveable urbanism, and Expert – Specialist, Design Council, London. Her consultancy firm, Lucy Bullivant & Associates, has worked for over 25 years with international clients including Enfield Council, kommune Bydel Bjerke Oslo, the Latvian Investment and Development Agency, ANCB Berlin, Qatar University, Roca London Gallery, Tallinn Architecture Biennale 2018, Institut pour la Ville en Mouvement, FRAC Orléans, John Wiley & Sons and the British Council, and created exhibitions for the Oslo Architecture Triennale 2019, the São Paulo Biennale of Architecture 2017, the Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture Shenzhen 2015-16, the Milan Triennale 1996, and Vitra Design Museum (1994-7). Lucy is a chair of the Lambeth Design Review Panel and a Trustee of Temple Bar Trust responsible for curating and co-hosting its online events programme since July 2020. Lucy was elected an Honorary Fellow of RIBA in 2010, a lifetime honour, for her contribution to architectural culture globally. 

She has a PhD from London Metropolitan University’s School of Art, Architecture and Design, ‘From Masterplanning to Adaptive Planning: understanding the contemporary tools and processes for civic urban order’, and an MA in Cultural History, from the Royal College of Art. Her publications include Masterplanning Futures (Routledge, 2012; second edition due 2021), winner of the Book of the Year award by Urban Design Group in 2014. She founded, her webzine for liveable urbanism, in 2013, and co-founded and co-hosts Urban Manifesto, the livestreamed broadcasting platform, with urbanist Prathima Manohar, in 2020. Lucy has written extensively on architecture and urban design, judged many competitions ranging from ArchMarathon to AJ Architecture Awards over the last three decades and given keynotes at major industry events in global cities ranging from Helsinki to Shanghai, Doha to Barcelona, NYC to Kuala Lumpur.


Chapters and essays

  • Bullivant, L. (2019). ‘Dynamic Urban Regeneration in London’, In: Mobilising the Periphery: Incubator for Urban Innovation, ANCB, Berlin.                                                                          
  • Bullivant, L. (2018). ‘Light as a soft planning tool and expression of civic identity in 21st century urban design’, In: Poissant, L. (ed), Lumières de la Ville (Lights of the City), [requires JSTOR login] Presses Universitaires du Québec, Canada.                                                                                             
  • Bullivant, L. (2017). ‘Human and Machine Intelligence in Global Design’, In: Minding the Digital, exhibition catalogue, Design Society, Shenzhen.                                                                  
  • Bullivant, L. (2017). From Master Planning to Adaptive Planning: a conceptual framework and social instrument of mediation’, In: AlWaer, H., and Illslet, B. (eds), Rethinking Masterplanning: Creating Quality Places, ICE Publishers, London.                                                                                                                                          
  • Bullivant, L. (2012). ‘Ken Yeang - ein grüner Architekt’ (‘Ken Yeang - an ecological Architect’), In: Grüne Häuser, tropische Gärten (Green Buildings, Tropical Gardens), exhibition catalogue, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Stuttgart, Germany.                                                      
  • Bullivant, L. (2011). ‘Ken Yeang’s green genres of architecture’, In: Ken Yeang: Eco Skyscrapers 2, The Images Publishing Group, Singapore.                                                                                                                            
  • Bullivant, L. (2007). ‘No More Tabula Rasa: Progressive Architectural Practices in England’, In: Saunders, W. (ed), The New Architectural Pragmatism, The University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, USA.
  • Bullivant, L. (2007). ‘Activating Nature: an introduction to Gross.Max.’, Gross.Max, C3, Seoul.                             
  • Bullivant, L. (2006). ‘Gross.Max’s pitch for a sublime new world’, In: Bain, M. (ed) Northern City, between Light and Dark, exhibition catalogue, Lighthouse Centre for Architecture and Design, Glasgow.                                                                                     
  • Bullivant, L. (2004). ‘Cumbernauld New Town: Tomorrow’s Town Today’, In: Wagenaar, C (ed),  Happy: Cities and Public Happiness in Post-war Europe, NAi, Rotterdam.                                                                                                    
  • Bullivant, L. (2001). ‘Space Invaders’, In: Space Invaders: New British Architecture, exhibition catalogue, The British Council, London.

Research portfolio

 Masterplanning Futures

Constitución, Elemental 

 4D Hyperlocal

A Cultural Toolkit for the Open-Source City 

 Recoded City

Co-creating Urban Futures