Department of
Architecture and Built Environment

Image of Nicole Porter

Nicole Porter

Director of Postgraduate Research, Researcher Academy Faculty Lead, Faculty of Engineering



Dr Porter (PhD, M.Arch, Grad Cert L.Arch, BPD Melb., PGCHE Nottm., FHEA) is the Researcher Academy Faculty Lead (RAFL) for the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty Director of Postgraduate Research.

She a member of the Architecture, Culture & Tectonics Research Group.

She is an academic member of the Landscape Institute, UK.

Dr Porter is the author of over 40 publications and conference presentations, delivered in 20 different countries. She is the world-leading authority on the relationship between landscape and place branding, exemplified by the book Landscape and Branding: the promotion and production of place (Routledge, 2016). She is also internationally recognised for her pioneering work at the forefront of mind-body-environment relationships and wellbeing, synthesising built environment design theory with mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs).

Dr Porter's expertise is based on training at the MSD (University of Melbourne) across landscape architecture (PhD), architecture (Masters) and planning (Bachelor Planning and Design / architecture) domains. Her experience in private practice and in the public sector has similarly encompassed architecture, landscape, urban design policy and strategic planning. She has an international perspective, having worked in academia in Australia (University of Melbourne, University of Canberra) before joining the University of Nottingham in 2011. Her interdisciplinary work integrates theory, design studio teaching and public engagement, with teaching linked to research activities that respond to local landscape issues in various urban as well as non-urban contexts.

Expertise Summary

Dr Porter's expertise encompasses a range of built environment disciplines including landscape architecture, urban design and architecture.

Vision statement: to lead imaginative and critically informed landscape-focussed projects that engage people from different disciplines, communities and cultural contexts, with the common goal of creating healthy, meaningful places that sustain ecological and cultural diversity.

Teaching Summary

I am passionate about equipping students with the ability to creatively address complex socio-ecological challenges through the investigation and design of healthy places. I synthesize expertise in… read more

Research Summary

Redefining how landscapes are 'promoted and produced' in a brand-driven age

I am a world leading scholar in the field of landscape architecture and branding. This is exemplified by my monograph, Landscape and Branding: the promotion and production of place (Routledge Research in Landscape and Environmental Design Series, 2016) which has been described as 'an important expose and long overdue [that…] marks the end of landscape architecture's innocence' (Professor Richard Weller, Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Chair of Landscape Architecture, University of Pennsylvania). My research identifies how place branding transforms notions of place identity, nature and landscape experience, and evaluates how this affects landscape architectural practice and values. This original scholarship redefines the relationship between landscape design and contemporary consumerist culture.

Informing the future of National Park design and management

My theoretical and empirical work with national parks informs how these highly valued landscapes can be conserved, constructed, experienced, branded and sustained through socially and environmentally responsive design interventions and management. My publications and public exhibitions on the relationship between national parks and design are based on individual scholarship as well as research-led teaching and PhD supervision in this area. This work addresses issues of architectural quality, sustainable tourism, energy / infrastructure, indigenous perspectives / experiences and landscape interpretation. I have collaborated with National Park authorities in Australia and the UK (Namadgi, Blue Mountains WHA, Peak District, Lake District WHA).

Embodying wellbeing and design / design for wellbeing

I am developing work at the forefront of landscape and psychological health, synthesising built environment design theory with mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). Within this emerging field, I have introduced spatial design concepts to mindfulness scholars/ practitioners and introduced mindful awareness to the design community, notably in terms of architectural / designer education. My emerging work within this theme to date includes the invited keynote lecture, 'Mindful places: the psychology and design of healing environments' at the Institute for Mind Humanities International conference in South Korea in November 2018, subsequently published in Korean. My pedagogical research linking mindfulness-based interventions with architecture design student well-being has been funded by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), culminating in the 'Mindful architecture students' report (2020).

Promoting Biophilic design and human - nature connections

A range of projects, past and present, address human- nature connections and how these support human flourishing in cities, from temporary urbanism park interventions in Sao Paolo through to post-industrial blue-green infrastructure in London. My current book, Artist in Residence: drawing during lockdown (in press, Intellect, Spring 2023 release) explores how everyday connections with suburban nature during played a significant role in supporting wellbeing.

Selected Publications

I am passionate about equipping students with the ability to creatively address complex socio-ecological challenges through the investigation and design of healthy places. I synthesize expertise in landscape architecture, urban design, planning and architecture to bring a holistic approach to the education of built environment professionals. I provide ongoing leadership and input to several modules and projects across the Department, the University and externally.

Current teaching:

K13LAD Landscape Design: meaning and making - I am the founding module convenor for this lecture based undergraduate / graduate module, offering a comprehensive overview of landscape theory and design strategies. The curriculum covers key issues of landscape history, human-nature relations, blue-green infrastructure, urban ecology, food, mobility, health, equity and public space and landscape representation [next offered 2022]

ABEE4111 Practice Research by Design - I lead the Graduate (L7) Architecture Apprenticeship design module, collaborating with leading designers and stakeholders in Nottingham and London to investigate biophilic design solutions to urban development scenarios. The current studio briefs are focussed on flood resilient architecture and water sensitive urban design speculations.

ABEE4056 - Thesis Research Document - I supervise the development of final year architecture student research dissertations (6000 words), overseeing several project each year. Topics include transport oriented design, restorative landscapes and health, people-centred healthcare architecture, food-based urbanism, building reuse.

ABEE4002 - Dissertation Built Environment - I supervise 1- 4 Masters level dissertations (16,000 words) per year (since 2011). Topics include heritage landscape management and design, waterfront regeneration, landscape and narrative, water sensitive cities, garden history and theory, community gardens.

ABEE1009 People Buildings Landscape - I established and now contribute to the theory module, preempting the Farrell Review's 'PLACE' model of architectural education (Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation, Engineering). This undergraduate lecture-based module introduces the fundamentals of urban sustainability to first year architecture students. At the core of this module is the idea that complex contemporary challenges such as climate change and rapid urbanisation require designers to take a multi-disciplinary approach to environmental design.

Mindfulness in the context of physical space, place and nature. I deliver this day-long seminar module in Studies in mindfulness and compassion post-graduate diploma course, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Poznan, Poland, [2020 in person, 2021 online during covid lockdown, next module scheduled March 2022].

Selected previous teaching:

Studio lead - Graduate Thesis Studio - Biophilic Design. Year-long 120 credit thesis and graduate capstone project / portfolio module year 6 level (2015 - 2018, ~ 12 students per year). Work exhibited at International Activating Biophilic Cities conference (London 2018),

Studio lead - Undergraduate Peak District Propositions (year 2 - 3 vertical studio, 2011 - 2013, ~25 students per year). This studio focused on socially and environmentally sustainable architectural responses to the picturesque 'living landscape' of the Peak District National Park (PDNP), UK. The group exercise I conducted on-site with students in 2011 was awarded the EDUCATE Prize International Student Award; work was exhibited in the PDNP in 2013.

K14BDM Building Project: comprehensive design - Bashan Reservoir Regeneration. Studio tutor in 2014 masters studio based on a site at Bashan reservoir, Shandong Province, China.

ABEE4001 Research Methods, Skills and Professional Practice - Graduate lecture and workshop series

Specialist guest lectures in Masters and undergraduate programmes (Urban Design Theory, Rethinking Architecture, Urban geography.)

Past Research

PhD projects supervised:

  • Dr Ayob Zulkefle - Green Urbanism and Walkability in Malaysia
  • Dr Concepcion Del Carmen - Place attachment in informal settlements: the influence of community leaders in Mexico
  • Dr Najah Md Alwi - Social spaces in megacities: Jakarta case study
  • Dr Kirsten Tatum - Design in an Iconic Landscape: Residential architecture policy and practice in Dartmoor National Park, 1997-2017
  • Dr Thao Nhut Hong Phan - Designing social learning spaces: Evaluating the relationship between perceptions of design quality and student experience in UK higher education
  • Dr Mohamed Fagier, Urban regeneration and the Liverpool Waterfront
  • Dr Wasana de Silva, Performing Place: Natural Landscape, Cultural Place, Performance of Sri Lankan traditional Settlements

Future Research

I welcome inquiries from potential PhD candidates who are interested in the following research areas: Landscape architecture, National Park design, biophilic design, design for health, urban design, place branding and place making, mindfulness / wellbeing and nature.

  • ALTAY, B. and PORTER, N., 2021. Educating the mindful design practitioner: Thinking Skills and Creativity Thinking Skills and Creativity. 41, 19
  • FAGEIR, M., PORTER, N. and BORSI, K., 2020. Contested grounds; the regeneration of Liverpool waterfront: Planning Perspectives Planning Perspectives.
  • RODRIGUES, L., SOARES GONÇALVES, J. C., TUBELO, R., PORTER, N., MIRZAEI AHRANJANI, P., KRAFTL, P., ANDRES, L., MICHALSKI, R. L. X. N., MÜLFARTH, R. C. K. and MONTEIRO, L., 2020. Exploring Urban Regeneration Through Temporary Uses in Central São Paulo, Brazil
  • PORTER, NICOLE, 2019. Does space matter? Conceptualising the relationship between mindfulness based interventions and the physical environment In: International Conference of Mindfulness (ICM) Asia Pacific, Auckland New Zealand.
  • PORTER, NICOLE, 2019. Mindful architecture students: a pilot study investigating the effects of MBSR on architecture student well-being: (poster presentation) In: International Conference of Mindfulness (ICM) Asia Pacific, Auckland New Zealand.
  • PORTER, NICOLE, IVES, CHRIS and FOULGER, WILL, 2019. The city alive: Conceptualising the new Trinity Church (Nottingham, UK) as an urban monastery In: European Academy of Religions Annual Conference (EuARE) Bologna, Italy.
  • MULCAHY, MARAGRET and PORTER, NICOLE, 2019. Teaching a taste for architecture: introducing architectural design through the analogy of food production In: Field Conditions - All Ireland Architecture Research Group (AIARG) conference, Dublin.
  • PORTER, NICOLE, 2019. Mindful Places: the psychology and design of healing environments and biophilia: (Public lecture) In: Victoria University, Wellington New Zealand.
  • NICOLE PORTER and MARTIN THOMAS, 2019. How do we define social well being? (oral presentation) In: Thriving in Higher Education: What works? 3rd joint staff well being conference, University of Nottingham.
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2019. Mindful Architecture Students: a pilot study investigating the effects of MBSR on architecture student well being (poster presentation) In: Thriving in Higher Education: What works? 3rd joint staff well being conference, University of Nottingham.
  • PORTER, NICOLE, 2018. Mindful places: the psychology and design of healing environments In: The Places of mind practice: from Mind to Environment: 9th International Mind Humanities conference, South Korea. 22-65
  • MCLEAN, TOM and PORTER, NICOLE, 2018. Biodiver-city: a design speculation for Hackney, London: (poster presentation) In: International conference ABC; Activating Biophilic Cities, London.
  • PORTER, NICOLE, 2018. Resilient Smart Regions: beyond digital infrastructure: ICT - Imagine digital connect Europe conference, European Commission At: Vienna
  • PORTER, NICOLE, RODRIGUES, LUCELIA and MIRZAEI, PARHAM, 2018. Sustainable and Resilient Cities: a research overview In: 12th International Seminar of Technology and Innovation in Architecture and Urbanism - Future Perspectives.
  • JONES, BENJAMIN, PORTER, NICOLE and MIRZAEI, PARHAM, 2018. Improving Air Quality: (call for evidence - evidence cited in report)
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2018. Mindful architects: increasing health and well-being in the student architectural community.. In: JOHN-PAUL NUNES, ed., RIBA Education Yearbook: 2018 RIBA. 168 - 169
  • PORTER NICOLE, 2017. Branding Landscape LA Plus: Interdisciplinary Journal of Landscape Architecture. 82-89
  • PORTER NICOLE, 2017. Australian Alps: Kosciuszko, Alpine and Namadgi National Parks: Book Review Mountain Research and Development. 37(1), 163-164
  • NICOLE PORTER, JOHANNA BRAMHAM and MARTIN THOMAS, 2017. Mindfulness and design; spaces for well being. In: SAAVEDRA, JAVIER, ESPAÑOL, ALICIA, ARIAS, SAMUEL and CALDERÓN, MARINA, eds., Creative Practices for improving Health and social inclusion University of Seville. 199-209
  • TATUM, KIRSTEN, PORTER, NICOLE and HALE, JONATHAN, 2017. A Feeling for What's Best: Landscape aesthetics and notions of appropriate residential architecture in Dartmoor National Park, England Journal of Rural Studies. (In Press.)
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2017. Where are you mindful? Exploring mindfulness in different environments: (conference poster) In: Mindfulness in Society International Conference, Chester.
  • NICOLE PORTER and CHEN MAN, 2017. Architecture and heath: a research-by-design case study In: Health Humanities & Arts in Health International Symposium.
  • SRUTI VENKATAKRISHNAN and NICOLE PORTER, 2017. Biophilic streets: integrating and measuring nature within urban streetscapes In: Circling the Square workshop: Re-designing nature-cultures in a changing urban climate, Munich.
  • PORTER NICOLE, 2016. Landscape and branding: The promotion and production of place Routledge.
  • BORSI KATHARINA, PORTER NICOLE and NOTTINGHAM MEGAN, 2016. The Typology of the Berlin Block: History, Continuity and Spatial Performance Athens Journal of Architecture. 2(1), 45 - 64
  • PORTER NICOLE, 2016. Power plants needn’t be ugly – let’s make them green and beautiful The Conversation Trust. Available at: <>
  • PORTER, N., 2016. "Single-minded, compelling, and unique": Visual communications, landscape, and the calculated aesthetic of place branding. In: Visual Environmental Communication Taylor and Francis Inc.. 79-102
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2015. ‘Really beautiful’ or ‘poems thrust in my face’? Perceptions of artworks in ‘wild’ landscape settings In: Landscape, Wilderness and the Wild conference, Newcastle UK.. 186-193
  • MOHAMED FAGEIR, NICOLE PORTER and KATHARINA BORSI, 2015. Regenerating Liverpool Pier Head Waterfront: the Role of Urban Design City, Culture and Architecture. 1(1), 21-38
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2015. Wilderness, camera, action: conservation, commercialisation and change in National Parks landscapes In: ECLAS Landscapes in Flux conference, Tartu Estonia..
  • PORTER, N., 2014. Changing Places; Urbanity, Citizenship and Ideology in New European Neighbourhoods Journal of Urban Design. 19(2), 257 - 259
  • PORTER, N. and BULL, C., 2013. Conceptualizing, representing and designing nature: cultural constructions of the Blue Mountains, Australia. In: CARR, E., EYRING, S. and WILSON, R.G., eds., Public nature: scenery, history and park design University of Virginia Press. 170-182
  • PORTER, N., 2013. "Single-minded, compelling, and unique": visual communications, landscape and the calculated aesthetic of place branding Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. 7(2), 231-254
  • PORTER, NICOLE, REITAN, J., DIAGRANES, I. and NIELSEN, L., 2013. What do you think the campus is telling you?: Teaching-led research exploring campus design and widening participation in Higher Education In: ). Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference for Design Education Researchers.. 2. 767 – 783
  • HUSSEIN, M., PORTER, N. and BORSI, K., 2013. Who Speaks for Liverpool?’ Communicating Urban Identity through Place Branding In: Communication and the City Conference, The University of Leeds.
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2012. Place branding and urban design: intangible values and tangible effects In: Designing Place.
  • WASANA DE SILVA, JONATHAN HALE and NICOLE PORTER, 2012. Performing Place Kandy Sri Lanka In: Designing Place.
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2012. Bowen Place Crossing At: Landscape Architecture Australia
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2012. A conversation about art and adoption: healing / revealing Australian Journal of Adoption. 5(2),
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2011. Australia Season at the British Museum At: Landscape Architecture Australia (132)
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2011. From ideal landscape to inclusive landscape?: How community engagement is defining a "future scenario" for Canberra's open spaces In: Open Space People Space: Inclusive Design for Getting Outdoors.
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2010. Brand Blue Mountains: a landscape promotion and production In: Emerging Landscapes: between representation and production.
  • PORTER, N., 2010. Experiencing contemporary 'nature': virtual and physical designed landscapes of the Blue Mountains, Australia Technoetic Arts: a Journal of Speculative Research. 8(2), 149-158
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2010. Australian War Memorial At: Landscape Architecture Australia (128)
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2010. Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa At: Landscape Architecture Australia (126)
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2008. Landscape Branding Landscape Architecture Australia. 66-67
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2007. Landscape and Branding: the global market for place Globalisation and Landscape Architecture: Issues for Education and Practice. 156 – 161
  • NICOLE PORTER, 2006. Landscape, Time, Media Conventions, Blue Mountains The Landscape Architecture Journal. 182 – 200
  • DE SILVA, W., HALE, J. and PORTER, N., Ritualized Mythic Place: Body, performance and place in traditional Sri Lankan Landscape Time, Space and Body. (In Press.)

Department of Architecture and Built Environment

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 95 14184