Prof. Chris Webster

Prof. Chris Webster
Dean, Faculty of Architecture, University of Hong Kong
Chair Professor of Urban Planning and Development Economics

Prof. Chris Webster has degrees in urban planning, computer science, economics and economic geography and is a leading urban theorist and spatial economic modeller. He has published over 150 scholarly papers on the idea of spontaneous urban order and received over US$20M grants for research and teaching projects. He was co-editor of Environment and Planning B for ten years. Books include Webster and Lai (2003) Property Rights, Planning and Markets, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar; Glasze, Webster and Frantz, (2006) Private Cities, London, Routledge; Wu, Webster, He and Liu, (2010) Urban Poverty in China, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar; and Wu and Webster (Editors) Marginalisation in Urban China. London: Palgrave McMillan; and Sarkar, Webster and Gallacher (2014) Healthy Cities: Public Health Through Urban Planning. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Professor Webster has five prize-winning academic papers on urban theory. His present professional mission is to help change the way cities are planned in China and his current research agenda is to establish systematic scientific evidence for the relationship between urban configuration (planned and spontaneous) and individual health. He was recently PI on a UK ESRC-funded ‘Transformative Research’ project that is creating UKBUMP: 700 built environment morphometric measures for each of the 500,000 members of the UK Biobank, the country’s flagship epidemiological study. He sees the creation of UKBUMP, which he leads with Dr. Chinmoy Sarkar from HKU and Professor John Gallacher from Oxford University, as a landmark initiative that shows how a new urban science built on big data, sensing technology and high power computing can transform the design, delivery and management of smart cities. The platform will become the largest gene-environment (social, built, natural environment) study of healthy living ever constructed. It provides an evidence-base for healthy city building in the new century, just as John Snow’s famous simple point-map analysis of cholera in 19th London showed a way forward for healthy city building in the early 20th century.