The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London
Prof. Penn is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment, he is a founding director of Space Syntax Ltd, a UCL knowledge transfer spin out with a portfolio of over 100 applied projects per year, including whole city masterplans, neighbourhood development plans and individual buildings. He was the Chair of the Architecture, Built Environment and Planning sub-panel 16 and a member of Main-panel C for the Research Excellence Framework 2014. He is Principal Investigator on the £5m five year EPSRC funded Digital Economy Hub: UK Regions Digital Research Facility.
About 10,000 years ago humans entered a period of extremely rapid progress which is still accelerating today. The invention of buildings and dense settlements may account for this. The invention of digital computing and communications adds a further layer to the way that society is formed, coheres and progresses. I suggest that there are today two different modes of practice in built environment professions. Engineering makes predictions on the basis of past experience. Architecture envisions a future that has never been seen before. While the first is largely rational in its process, no amount of rational or logical deduction can tell you what you ought to do. Instead architectural processes work with intuition and emotion to propose prospective forms of society. This is the context for architectural education.