Dr Jon Cooper

Senior Lecturer
Urban Designer, Chartered Landscape Architect, Research Examiner
Director of VU+Q Consulting, Research Associate - OISD: UDG


Jon is a part time senior lecturer and the Director of Vu+Q Consulting, visual character analysis specialists, at Oxford Brookes University.

Jon has extensive experience of teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level and is an experienced PhD tutor and examiner.

As the Director of Vu+Q Jon is currently developing software that assesses the visual character and quality of places for use as a decision support tool in the production of “good” and visually attractive development.

Jon was a founding Director of independent consultancy Urban Design and Mediation Ltd, where he specialised in delivering interactive urban design-based stakeholder and public consultation projects. Prior to co-founding Urban Design and Mediation he was the Director of the Joint Centre for Urban Design at Oxford Brookes University and before joining Oxford Brookes University in 1997, Jon was principle landscape architect and urban designer with Birmingham Design Services.

In over thirty years of practice experience in the public, private and academic sectors, Jon has won awards for the design of housing and public space schemes, including Secured by Design and BDI awards for housing refurbishment and parks design. His current research interests are in the development of evaluation techniques for assessing urban visual quality.

Jon is also a peer reviewer for a number of academic publications including Urban Design International and Landscape and Urban Planning. Jon is published regularly in Environment and Planning (B) and the International Journal of Urban Morphology on the evaluation of physical character, and perceptions of visual quality in urban environments, including the link between physical character and perceptions of economic value. He is a regular reviewer for several environment, landscape and urban design publications and is an international PhD examiner in the field of urban design.

Teaching interests

His key interests are in urban design coding and place making; the meaningful use of landscape materials to improve energy efficiency, air quality and comfort in public spaces and the application of fractal geometry in assessing urban visual quality and designing to reduce crime.

Research interests and consultancy expertise

Jon was awarded a PhD in 2000. The PhD thesis is entitled The Potential of Chaos and Fractal Analysis in Urban design and his current research interest focuses on the development of fractal based townscape evaluation techniques.

Jon runs in-house urban design, character assessment, density and coding training programmes for a large number of local authority clients and has carried out collaborative consultancy with a number of private sector developers and consultants. He has been involved with a number of urban design coding projects, with new settlement developments in Devon, Cambridge and Hampshire, urban extensions, the production of regional and town-scale development strategies, development frameworks and collaborative community engagement projects for clients such as Land Securities, Places for People, Tesco, Gallagher and the DCLG.

Examples of recent research and consultancy projects

  • Developing a vision for Mid-summer Boulevard, Milton Keynes – producing a stakeholder and community directed design brief for the development for part of central Milton Keynes. (Jon Cooper Associates, 2014, For Milton Keynes Council, CMK Town Council, CMK Alliance, Hammerson, Intu Properties and Hermes.
  • Informing development in North Harlow – identifying community concerns, aspirations and opinion. Quantitative and qualitative research and analysis of local opinion to identify the community's' spatial behaviour, their "likes and dislikes" in terms of their locality, their concerns regarding development and their priorities in regard to issues affecting their quality of life and that new development should address. (ud+m, 2010 for Land Securities and Places for People).
  • Identifying community development issues for the Tesco stores site at Bexley Heath. Leading a series of community engagement events to inform the development of a mixed use retail led scheme. (ud+m, 2008, for Tesco Stores Ltd)
  • Influencing the future prosperity of Wymondham, Norfolk. A series of 1 day local stakeholder workshops to explore the impact of a proposed mixed use development on the future of the market town of Wymondham. (ud+m, 2007, for the Pelham Group)
  • Identifying Urban Lifestyle Aspirations for Northstowe in 2021. A 1-Day research workshop event that explored how medium term urban lifestyle aspirations could inform the spatial and functional requirements of a proposed new 10,000 home settlement near Cambridge. (ud+m, 2007, for Gallagher Estates and English Partnerships)
  • Devising regional spatial strategies for Wellingborough to 2021. Stakeholder workshops to explore major development options to the east and north of the town as a catalyst for achieving a distinctive regional role and branding profile for Wellingborough by 2021. (ud+m, 2006, for BB Developments, Bovis Homes and the Borough Council of Wellingborough)

Recent papers

Regina Mapua Lim, Laura Novo de Azevedo & Jon Cooper (2015): Embracing the conceptual shift on new ways of experiencing the city and learning urban design: pedagogical methods and digital technologies, Journal of Urban Design, DOI: 10.1080/13574809.2015.1071651.

Cooper J, Su Mei-Lin, Oskrochi R (2013) Fractal analysis and perceptions of streetscape in Taipei: with comparative comments made in relation to two British case studies Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 2013, volume 40, pages 43 – 62.

Oxford Brookes University (2012, Unpublished) Sustainable housing design: understanding consumers’ preferences and market provision. A scoping research using a Q-methodology on the relationship between environmentally sustainable housing design, market expectations and consumers’ preferences in the contemporary UK context.

Cooper J, (in review), Fractal examination of route networks – a possible means of assessing and comparing character, Journal of Urban Design.

Cooper J, Watkinson D, Oskrochi R, 2010, Fractal Analysis & Perception of Visual Quality in Everyday Street Vistas, Environment and Planning.

Cooper J, Oskrochi R, 2008, Fractal analysis of street vistas – a potential tool for assessing levels of visual variety in everyday street scenes, Environment and Planning B 35 (2)

Cooper J, 2005, Assessing urban character: the use of fractal analysis of street edges, Urban Morphology 9(2) 96-107

Cooper J, 2003, Fractal assessment of street level skylines – a possible means of assessing and comparing character, Urban Morphology 7(2) 73-82

Cooper J, 2000 The potential of chaos and fractal analysis in urban design, PhD dissertation, Joint Centre for Urban Design, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK

PhD examination experience

To date Jon has examined seven PhDs:

  1. Differentiating Small Urban Space as a Type and an Idea, January 2016, William Thornton, University of Auckland.
  2. The quality of public spaces in Hochiminh City, Vietnam, February 2013 Hai Thanh Truong, Oxford Brookes University.
  3. The Impact of English Retail-Led Town Centre Developments on User Benefits of Public Realm, October 2013. Geertje Kreuziger, Oxford Brookes University.
  4. Learning outside the box – designing social learning space, May 2011. Rebecca Kiddle at the JCUD, Oxford Brookes University.
  5. Fractal analysis of Tehran, November 2009. Toofan Haghani at Birmingham City University.
  6. The impacts of public space morphology on the economic performance of Mexican social housing estates, September 2008. Pamela Ileana Castro Suarez at the JCUD, Oxford Brookes University.
  7. Sustainable Assessment of Green Spaces in Mexico, July 2005. Ana Maria Maldonado Fuse at the JCUD, Oxford Brookes University.