I am... 

Director of UB-LAB

PhD Candidate 

Regular Public Speaker

Occasional Writer

Sometimes Commentator


My passion is the human relationship with the built environment


More about me

I was born in Ireland and now live and work in Australia.

My main interest is exploring the relationship between urban environments and human behaviour - how design influences the experience of the city at both an individual and social level.

My professional career path has been anything but conventional. It started in planning, looking at the relationship between transportation and land-use development before expanding out into urban design, architecture, environmental psychology and behavioural science.

The common thread throughout my career has been the human experience of the built environment.

I approach this subject from two distinct but interrelated angles. The first is behaviour change, which focuses on retrofitting problems created by poor design. The second is behavioural design, which applies behavioural science in design to improve the human experience and minimise problems in the future. This is a practice I call 'Urban Behaviourology'.

Although I work across a range of contexts, I am most interested in the public spaces of cities, particularly inner-city streets, and how we share them with different people and for different uses. I am fascinated by the interplay of design and human psychology - how one influences the other, and how the outcome of this relationship affects the experience of these spaces.

Current preoccupations

For the last five years I have been preoccupied by the changes taking place in western cities, particularly the increasing density of people, cultural diversity and difference. I am interested in how these changes are represented in the design of our public spaces and whether or not current practice is adequate to meet the changing needs of our cities.

Through my work I have observed and documented what you might call 'urban frictions' taking place under these changing conditions. Different cultures interpret and use public space in different ways. Some rely more on negotiation rather than formal direction. The latter is how we design and manage most western cities but, for me, the question is whether or not this is appropriate for now and the future.

My inspirations

Richard Sennett, Urban Sociologist

Henri Lefebvre, Urban Sociologist

Saskia Sassen, Urban Sociologist

Jane Jacobs, Urbanist

Edward T Hall, Anthropologist

Antanas Mockus, Politician

Dieter Rams, Industrial Designer

Rem Koolhaas, Architect

Cedric Price, Architect

Seamus Heaney, Poet

Francis Bacon, Artist

Antony Gormley, Artist

Atelier Bow-Wow, Architectural Practice

Ingrid Gehl, Environmental Psychologist