Simon Bell profile picture

Job title:

Personal Chair of Landscape and Wellbeing


Co-director OPENspace Research Centre; Director, PhD/MPhil programme in Landscape Architecture; Past President European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools


J01A, North East Studio Building


Dr Simon Bell is a forester-turned-landscape architect. He is interested in aspects of the wider landscape, such as forests, rural and wild landscapes as well as the peri-urban zone. This includes planning and design aspects, forest landscape aesthetics, urban forestry, urban blue spaces, outdoor recreation and the health and well-being benefits of exposure to nature in such areas. Accessibility by people from a range of backgrounds to such landscapes has also been a feature of his research and practice.

Simon was educated in forestry at The University of Wales, Bangor (now Bangor University), landscape architecture at the University of Edinburgh and took his doctorate in landscape architecture at the Estonian University of Life Sciences where he is also Chair Professor and Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture.

Before academia Simon worked for 20 years for the Forestry Commission, ending his time there as Chief Landscape Architect. He has worked all over the UK and also extensively on forestry design projects and as a trainer in Canada and the USA as well as Ireland, Finland and the Baltic States. When practicing privately as a landscape architect he worked on many forest landscape design plans for the Forestry Commission and for private forestry companies in Scotland. He worked on the regeneration of the Caledonian Forest in Glenfeshie for Glenfeshie Estate in the Cairngorms National Park and designing extensive new forests such as Victory wood in Kent, Heartwood Forest in Hertfordshire (also incorporating a native tree arboretum), Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Wood in Leicestershire and the First World War Commemorative woodland in Surrey all for the Woodland Trust.

He is a Professor in the Latvian University of Life Sciences as well as having been Visiting Professor at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences. For several years has been a Visiting Professor at Harbin Institute of Technology in Harbin, China.

From 2012 to 2018 Simon was President of the European Council of Landscape Architecture Schools (ECLAS). This body represents the interest of landscape architecture educators and researchers, holds a prestigious annual conference, presents awards for teaching and research and owns the Journal of Landscape Architecture.

Research interests

  • Landscape and wellbeing
  • Urban blue spaces
  • Urban forestry
  • Landscape and memory
  • Outdoor recreation planning and design


Simon’s research interests are wide ranging and have evolved over the years. While starting with aspects related to forest and then rural landscapes with an early focus on design aesthetics, recreation and accessibility, his work moved towards urban environments. His doctoral work and other related research has focused on issues arising in the changing rural landscapes of post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially the Baltic States and Poland. He has been part of several EU-sponsored research projects including Cost Actions on Forest Recreation, Urban Allotment Gardening and Urban Forestry. EU-funded projects include PLUREL (PeriUrban Land Use Relationships) (2007-2010), MODSCAPES (The Modernist Reinvention of the Rural Landscape) (2016-2019) and BlueHealth (2016-2020) which focused on the relationship of water environments (blue spaces) on health and well-being. He has also been involved in many other research projects through the OPENspace Research Centre which he co-directs. Simon has published many books which have  become important references and used in teaching around the world.

PhD Supervision Topics

Not accepting applications
  • Landscape and wellbeing
  • Cultural landscape

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