Professor Georgia Butina Watson


Professor in Urban Design

School of the Built Environment

Georgia Butina Watson


Georgia Butina Watson is Professor of Urban Design and Research and Practice Consultant in Planning and Urban Design. She was Head of Planning Department between 2001 and 2015;  Chair of Oxford Brookes University Research Degree Committee between 2000 and 2016; and Chair of the Joint Centre for Urban Design between 1991 and 2001.  She is an urban design and planning specialist with a particular interest in: urban design and architectural history and theory; urban morphology; placemaking; place-identity; cultural heritage and historic cities; environmental and sustainable urban planning and design; urban regeneration; urban gaming; public participation and community development; sustainable, healthy and resilient cities; open space and liveable streets; planning and design of new settlements;  young people and the built environment; enquiry by design and social science research methods.  Key research projects were funded by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC); Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC); Department  for International Development (DFiD); British Council; UK Central and Local Government( ODPM, DCLG); Higher Education Council for England (HEFCE); Commission for Architecture and Built environment (CABE); National Health England (NHSE); Slovenian Research Council; EU; Ministry for Construction in Vietnam; Ministry of Planning Qatar.

She is an Academician and the Regional Co-ordinator for the Academy of Urbanism, a member of the Urban Design Group, a member of SUE (Sustainable Urban Environment) UK network and a member of International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC). She was a Trustee of Oxford Preservation Trust for 10 years and has served as a Trustee for various Art and Heritage foundations, and was also a member of the Design Review Panel for the West End Area of Oxford. She has received several awards for innovation in research methods and practice in participatory community projects. She also Chairs the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency) benchmarking for planning discipline (2015-to date) and provides advice to UK and international government agencies. She regularly delivers keynote and high profile public lectures on planning and urban design topics and sits on international jury panels for judging planning and urban design projects. She was a jury member for NIC competition entries for CAMKOX growth corridor  and chaired two events as part of the Academy of Urbanism initiative.

Teaching and supervision


Modules taught

  • Cities in Historical Contexts
  • Professional Practice
  • Placemaking
  • Contemporary Approaches in Urban Design: Theory and Practice
  • International Urban Design Theories for Planning and Design
  • Urban Design in Challenging Contexts
  • Research Methods

Georgia’s teaching interests include cities in historical contexts; urban morphology; theory and practice of urban design; placemaking and place-identity; urban regeneration and community development; public participation; healthy cities; sustainable and resilient cities; and research methodologies.


Recent and current PhD supervision topics include:

  • Cultural Landscapes and Place Identity in Merida, Mexico
  • Street Design in Medium Size Towns of China, Lishui
  • Right to the City, Maputo, Mozambique
  • Green Open Spaces in Cairo, Egypt; Design Guidance and Briefing (UK)
  • Participatory Research Methods with Children (UK)
  • Vitality and Viability in the Contemporary English High Street
  • Streets and Open Spaces in Beijing, China
  • Place Identity of Kampong Bahru, KL, Malaysia
  • Place Identity in Indonesia; Place-Identity of Erbil
  • Historic Revitalization of Shiraz, Iran
  • Resilience and Flooding in Bangkok, Thailand
  • Place Identity of Seoul, South Korea
  • Waterfront Development and Street Design in Hochiminh City, Vietnam.


Georgia’s research interests cover a broad range of research and consultancy projects and include the following topics: healthy cities and healthy urban mobility; placemaking and place-identity; sustainable and resilient cities; green and open spaces in various contexts; urban regeneration; community development and participation with various age groups; urban morphology; perceptual evaluation of urban qualities; market cities; rehabilitation of historic urban areas; planning and design of new towns.

Research and Consultancy Projects

  • 2022-ongoing  Revitalization of Historic Urban Areas, Zagreb, Croatia with Tihomir Jukic , School of Architecture, University of Zagreb.
  • 2019-ongoing  Market Cities, with Steve Davies, Place-Solutions Group and Affiliate of Project for Public Spaces.
  • 2019-ongoing  Healthy Bicester evaluation, with Cherwell District Council, funded by Sports England.
  • 2019-2020 Participatory Design in co-creation of exhibition spaces, Modern Art Oxford, Co-Director with Sarah Lowes. Funded by MAO.
  • 2015-2018  Healthy Urban Mobility (HUM), Tim Jones, Ramin Keivani, Sue  Brownill , Georgia Butina Watson, Ben Spencer and Brazilian experts from Brasilia, Porto Alegre and Florianopolis (Economic and Social Research Council). Co-Director, funded by: ESRC.
  • 2018-2019 Healthy New Towns: Process evaluation, Principal Investigator. Funded by: NHS England.
  • 2015-2019 Healthy New Towns (Bicester) with Cherwell District Council and Oxford University, Principal Co-Investigator. Funded by: NHS England.
  • 2014-2017- Compact Cities and Social Sustainability, in London and Berlin, Reza Shirazi, Ramin Keivani, Sue Brownill and Georgia Butina Watson. Co-Investigator. Funded by: Marie Currie Grant.
  • 2013-2015 Evaluation of Poundbury -2, with P Smith (follow up study from 2004). Project Director. Funded by:  Duchy of Cornwall.
  • 2011-ongoing Evaluation of Open Space Strategy, Islington EC1. Co-Director with Liz Kessler.
  • 2010-2014 RETROFIT 2050- Re-Engineering the City : Urban Foresight and Transition  Management, in partnership with the Universities of Cardiff, Salford, Cambridge and Reading. Principal Investigator. Funded by:  EPSRC SUE 3 grant.
  • 2010 Peer Review of the Qatar National Development Framework, Project Director. Funded by: the  Qatar Ministry of Planning.
  • 2009-2010 Regeneration of Blackbird Leys, Oxford, Project Co-Director with Savills Plc. Funded by : MCLG and Oxford City Council.
  • 2008-2013  Planning and Urban Design capabilities, with Ian Lyne, HCMUA. Funded by: EU and Ministry for Construction, Vietnam.
  • 2008-2009 UrbanBuzz: Rootscape - young people and the built environment, Project Director, with Rebecca Kiddle and Ian Bentley. Funded by: HEFCE and UCL.
  • 2008 Regeneration of Kazan and the Volga Territories, Project Director, with Ian Bentley and Laura Novo de Azevedo. Funded by: Municipality of Kazan and the Russian Government.
  • 2005-6 Thames Gateway Evidence Review, Project Director. Funded by: ODPM (Office for the Deputy Prime Minister); with Alan Reeve, Juliet Carpenter and Sue Brownill.
  • 2003-2005 Transferable Lessons from New Towns: Relevance to Urban Growth Areas, Project Director, with Steve Ward, Juliet Carpenter, Alan Reeve and Catherine Tranmer. Funded by: ODPM.
  • 2002-2003 Understanding Built Environment: Virtual Learning Blocks for A level students, Project Director. Funded by: CABE (Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), Awarded Silver Medal for innovation, Geographical Association, UK.
  • 2001-2004 Community Development and Rehabilitating Historic Centres, Project Co-Director with Flavio Malta, University of Taubate, Brazil. Funded by: DFID (Department for International Development).
  • 1999-2000 Housing rehabilitation in ancient centres as a factor of social cohesion and economic development, Project Co-Director with Martyn Pearl. Funded by: the Council of Europe.
  • 1993-2001 Urban Regeneration of Historic City Areas - La Alameda, Mexico City.  Project Co-Director with Cecilia Martinez de la Macorra. Funded by :the British Council and DfID.
  • 1992-2001 Upgrading of Self-Help Community Developments in Mexico City: Palo Alto and El Molino, Project Co-Director with Cecilia de la Macorra. Funded by: the British Council.
  • 1989-2002 Urban Regeneration of Social Housing, Angell Town, Brixton - Community Technical Aid and Tenant Consultation Process, with Ian Bentley and Graham Smith., Co-Director, part of the Enterprise in the Community and the Buildings for Life, CABE, award. Funded by: ATCP/London Borough of Lambeth and the Department of the Environment.



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Professional information

Memberships of professional bodies

  • Academician and Regional Co-ordinator, Academy of Urbanism
  • Member and Book Award judge (former Chair of the judging panel), Urban Design Group
  • Member of International Council for Caring Communities (ICCC)
  • Design Review Panel, West End area of Oxford, Oxford City Council (2005-2015)
  • Trustee- Oxford Preservation Trust (2002-2012)

Member of Editorial Boards

  • Journal of Urban Design; Urban Design International;
  • Town Planning Review; International  Journal of Urban Sustainable Development.