Urban & Rural Settlements


(Social Structures, Infrastructural Systems, Settlement Patterns, Land Use and Buildings)

This theme forms a core research activity within the School, addressing the processes and outcomes of economic production and consumption, politics and governance, technological innovation and cultural diversity in both urban and rural areas, and at a variety of scales. It includes research into community and societal structures, historic and contemporary land use and settlement patterns, infrastructural systems design and urban design.

Associated Staff:

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  • ‌PI: Orla Murphy
  • Funding: The Heritage Council, Irish Design 2015 and Mayo County Council.

In September 2015, a two-day workshop was organised to explore the long-term alternative spatial strategy for the village of Mulranny, County Mayo and its surrounding landscape. The Mulranny Geodesign Workshop – part of an ongoing collaboration between UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy (APEP) and Mulranny Community Futures, and facilitated by Prof. Carl Steinitz and Hrishi Ballal – piloted a locally led design approach to the built environment, landscape and coastal interfaces of Mulranny, using the Geodesign Framework.

It was the first application of geodesign in Ireland. Teams comprising community stakeholders, professional and academic designers and government agency experts worked collaboratively using an online design platform under ten pre-identified themes.

  • PI: Dr. Harutyun Shahumyan
  • Funding: EU Framework (FP7) Marie Curie
  • Call: People – Marie Curie Actions: International Outgoing Fellowships for Career Development (FP7-PEOPLE-2013-IOF)
  • Start Date: 01-AUG-14
  • End Date: 31-JUL-17
  • Website: geosinpo.shahumyan.org

The project looks to emerging techniques centred on the development of Spatial Decision Support Systems (SDSS) and the application of state of the art geospatial analytical tools. This project will apply different integrated modelling approaches in two study regions (1) Chesapeake Bay Watershed (CBW) in the US and (2) Greater Dublin Region in Ireland.

Strengths and weaknesses of each approach will are explored thoroughly; and the ways of complimenting each other are recommended, taking into consideration policy makers’ needs.


Policy makers are facing challenges of managing multifaceted urban and environmental systems influenced by global factors such as population growth, migration, recession, climate change as well as by local actors such as parties or companies who direct the development according to their own interest. Confronted with such complexity, decision makers need adequate tools to better understand and evaluate the effects of policy interventions in urban regions. Such pressure already led to the development of numerous models covering different discipline-specific areas. Nevertheless, the interconnected character of human and natural systems such as demographics, transportation, infrastructure, economics, land cover, climate, air and water requires an integrated approach in both decision making and modeling. However, it is an expensive and time-consuming task to develop a new model. Furthermore, a single model often cannot provide answers required for complex decision making based on multiple criteria. Coupling models are often applied to make use of existing models and analyze complex policy questions. The model coupling approach developed in scope of the GeoSInPo project aims to make integration of existing models easy, overcoming challenges such as differences in programming languages, unavailability of the source codes or licensing restrictions. The approach was successfully tested for Baltimore-Washington region coupling five independently developed models: Simple Integrated Land Use Orchestrator (SILO), Maryland Statewide Transport Model (MSTM), Building Emission Model (BEM), Mobile Emission Model (MEM), Chesapeake Bay Land Change Model (CBLCM). The integrated suite is now being applied to simulate four alternative scenarios of the region for 2040. The outputs include several socio-economic indicators, covering: population and employment, transport flow, land use, emission from cars and buildings, etc. 

The results in more details and the relevant publications can be found in the project website at geosinpo.shahumyan.org.

The Eco-Health project is working to provide an evidence-base for understanding the health benefits from high quality green space. 
The primary objective of Eco-Health is the development of robust, evidence-based and publicly acceptable policies and design interventions for public green spaces, both urban and rural. To address this, the project is: 
  • supplying an evidence-base to establish the links between green space and health
  • providing a benchmark study of national practice for developing health promoting environments
  • undertaking applied local case study research to understand the interactions between green space and health and to feed directly into local policy development
  • mobilising this knowledge in developing innovative guidance, health impact/proofing tool-kits and developing evidence-informed design exemplars for health promoting green space.
For further information and to keep up-to-date with Eco-Health, go to the dedicated project website for regular blog, news and research updates, or follow Eco-Health on Twitter.