Urban Depth and Autonomy

Urban Depth and Autonomy is a nascent collaboration between Jane Clossick (PI, London Met, Architecture) working with Ben Colburn (Glasgow, Philosophy). The core research question is how the spatial, temporal and psychological ordering of space in the built environment shapes people’s capacity to exercise their autonomy within our cities. 

Urban Depth is a term which describes the city in all of its richness and complexity, it encompasses all the components of urban space from the street, to the facade, through the section of the building, block or neighbourhood, and out the other side. It takes into account the social, political, economic and morphological and physical organisation of buildings, blocks and districts. The way Urban Depth is organised (and designed) shapes resilience of economic activities and social life, and it helps or hinders social integration. There is a relationship between the pursuit of autonomy (the capacity of a person to be the author of their own life and freely choose their actions), and the way urban depth is organised/designed – the architectural arrangement can help or hinder this ethical end.

Global cities are becoming bigger and more diverse, and it is key to elaborate a greater understanding of how we can build better, more inclusive cities. Urban depth has shown in initial research (Vesely, Carl, Clossick, Van Doorst) the possibility of increasing social and economic accessibility, political participation, social sustainability, social integration and economic resilience. The work elaborates the relation of urban depth with superdiversity, to understand if and how it can help to build inclusive places.

Urban Depth and Autonomy Workshops

WorkshopDate/timeBook now
Architectural Depth Thursday 14 January 2021, 3-5pm GMT Registration closed
Neighbourhood Depth Thursday 28 January 2021, 3-5pm GMT Registration closed
City Depth Thursday 11 February 2021, 3-5pm GMT Registration closed
Future Inquiry Thursday 25 February 2021, 3-5pm GMT Registration closed


Image: Hand drawn plan of Tottenham, Jane Clossick

hand drawing of annotated city map

Project Details

Project team

Dr Jane Clossick, PI.
Professer Ben Colburn, CI.
Hannah Parr, RA.

Research group



August 2020 - ongoing

Project webpage

Urban Depth and Autonomy

Research projects