Most of Professor Whitehand’s work, including some 200 publications, is on the historical geography and planning of the form of cities. He is Head of the Urban Morphology Research Group (UMRG) in the University of Birmingham, which is the principal centre in the UK for the study of historico-geographical aspects of urban form. The UMRG plays a major role in co-ordinating international research in conjunction with the International Seminar on Urban Form (ISUF). Its cross-cultural exploration of ideas on urban form and design guidance is part of an international programme being implemented through international commissions and collaborations with researchers in the Universities of Auckland, Chicago, Florence and Peking.
In 2002-5, Professor Whitehand was adviser to the International Urban Form Study on 6 World Cities, funded by Seoul Development Institute in conjunction with ISUF, and in 2005-8 he was Planning Adviser to the Government, Shanxi Province, China and Visiting Professor, University of Shanxi. Recent invitations to give keynote addresses include the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Jerusalem, 2006; the Conference on Nordic and International Urban Morphology, Stockholm, 2006; the World Heritage Centre Conference on Historic Urban Landscapes, St Petersburg, 2007; the Sixth International Space Syntax Symposium, Istanbul, 2007, and the Sixteenth International Seminar on Urban Form, Guangzhou, 2009.
See also Urban Morphology Research Group website
After appointments in the Universities of Newcastle upon Tyne and Glasgow, Professor Whitehand moved to the University of Birmingham in 1971, where he founded the Urban Morphology Research Group in 1974. He was a member of the Council of the Institute of British Geographers, 1977/80; Honorary Editor of the Institute of British Geographers quarterly journal Area, 1977/80; Chairman of the Institute of British Geographers Urban Geography Study Group, 1981/4; Secretary of the Editorial Board of the Institute of British Geographers Special Publications, 1981/5; a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee (later the Publications Committee) of the Royal Geographical Society, 1981/95; and a member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society, 1994/5. He is a member of the Council of the International Seminar on Urban Form and Editor of the international journal Urban Morphology.
Professor Whitehand’s research on urban form may be summarized under three headings
the study of urban morphogenetics
the integration of morphogenetic and land-economic conceptions of cities
the study of the agents responsible for urban landscape development.
Each of these topics has been the subject of a Special Publication of the Institute of British Geographers for which he has been responsible. The first of these, The Urban Landscape, provides a synthesis and assessment of the work of M R G Conzen, who laid many of the foundations of urban morphology, particularly urban morphogenetics, as a field of research within geography. The second, The Changing Face of Cities, sets out and exemplifies a building-cycle theory of the historico-geographical development of urban form. The third, The Making of the Urban Landscape, integrates a number of explorations of the agents responsible for, and the sequences of events leading to, the development of urban landscapes. His main current research is on the historical development of residential building types and the application of urban morphological theory in planning practice. Much of this work is being undertaken in China.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Morton, N.J. (2003) ‘Fringe belts and the recycling of urban land: an academic concept and planning practice’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 30, 819-39.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Morton, N.J. (2004) ‘Urban morphology and planning: the case of fringe belts’, Cities 21, 275-89.
Whitehand, J.W.R. (2005) ‘The problem of anglophone squint’, Area 37, 228-30.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Gu, Kai (2006) ‘Research on Chinese urban form: retrospect and prospect’, Progress in Human Geography 30, 337-355.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Morton, N.J. (2006) ‘The fringe-belt phenomenon and socio-economic change’, Urban Studies 43, 2047-2066.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Gu, K. (2007) ‘Extending the compass of plan analysis: a Chinese exploration’, Urban Morphology 11, 91-109.
Whitehand, J.W.R. and Gu, K. (2007) ‘Urban conservation in China: historical development, current practice and morphological approach’, Town Planning Review 78, 615-42.
Whitehand, J.W.R. (2009) ‘The structure of urban landscapes: strengthening research and practice’, Urban Morphology 13, 5-27.
Whitehand, J.W.R., Gu, K. and Whitehand, S.M. (2011) ‘Fringe belts and socioeconomic change in China’, Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 38, 41-60.
Whitehand, J.W.R., Gu, K., Whitehand, S.M. and Zhang, J. (2011) ‘Urban morphology and conservation in China’, Cities 28, 171-185.
See a full list of selected publications (PDF - 126KB)