Claire Harper

Research Title: Density, Productivity and Propinquity: Defining a spatial model of density for the design of higher-density urban housing in London.
Research Areas: Residential and urban density, urban housing, design standards, planning for housing in London

Director of Studies: Jeremy Till
Second Supervisor: Peter Barber (Peter Barber Architects)
Starting Date and Mode of Study: 2009 Full-Time


Claire has a degree in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and Bachelor of Architecture from Newcastle University. During her studies Claire was twice nominated for the RIBA Dissertation Prize and for her post-graduate dissertation: ‘The towers are a disgrace’ on the demolition of a high-rise housing scheme in Glasgow was awarded the Glover Prize for Dissertation writing by Newcastle University.
She has experience working in architectural practice in the UK and The Netherlands, and has worked on a range of housing and sheltered housing projects. 
Claire joined the University of Westminster in 2009 having been awarded a scholarship for PhD research into the design of higher-density housing for London..

Thesis Synopsis

The political, environmental and economic motivation to increase residential densities as part of a compact cities model for urban development has significant implications for the formal, typological and organisational design of new urban housing in London. Starting from the premise that the current quantitative definition of density is to loosely defined, and at the same time, too broadly implicated to be useful tool for analysis of the built environment, the research aims to unpack the spatial consequences of higher density for the residential environment.  Drawing on this analysis, the PhD proposes an expanded spatial conceptualisation of density that captures the compromises as well as opportunities generated by higher density environments.

Key research questions:
1. In what ways can the conception of ‘density’ be defined more usefully in relation to its spatial implications?
2. How can an expanded, architectural understanding of density be useful as a tool for practitioners in recognising the impacts of higher densities and suggesting strategies for countering the worst effects?

Recent  Publications, Exhibitions, Presentations

Room to Grow - presentation of winning entry for 150 Homes for 150 Years: Peabody Housing Competition – NLA breakfast talk, The Building Centre, London, May 2012

Density, meaning and measure – paper presented at international student conference Fragile, Sint Lucas, Brussels and Ghent, April 2011

Bringing about significance – paper presented at 7th International AHRA Conference, University of Kent, November 2010

Reinvigorating the Region: an exhibition of post-war architecture in the North East – exhibition written and co-curated, Stephenson Works, Newcastle upon Tyne, Jan-Feb 2010 and RIBA London, June-July 2011

Teaching and Employment Interests

Claire is studio assistant to Design Studio 3 lead by Constance Lau, tutoring second and third year undergraduate students on the BA/BSc Architecture degree.

Contact Details and Further Information

[email protected]