Marcus Willcocks

Research Fellow Design Against Crime Centre

Central Saint Martins


Wilcocks' design research and practice spans in the UK and internationally. Recently in the UK this has included: coordination of the Graffiti Dialogues Network CSM, with UCL, ESRC, TfL, BTP, DOCA, AGA, Southbank Centre, and others; ‘Surf Park’ container-based laundry wifi and play-space, research study and concept development for London Citizens, with Friends of Nightingale Square and Wandsworth Council; creation of co-design processes with diverse communities who use and appropriate the urban spaces around the Southbank Centre site; development of a park interpretation plan for the London 2012 Olympic Delivery Authority with Ralph Appelbaum Associates; co-creation of a Controlling Hostile Reconnaissance Toolkit for the Centre for Protection of National Infrastructure; research and design for Design Against ATM Crime and Bakeoff initiatives, with DACRC and industry partners, plus further recent projects exploring fear of crime, urban behavior with Gunpowder Park ‘Arts-Science-Nature’, and urban social wellbeing with Participle Service Design, and others. 

Internationally he has lately contributed design and research practice with local and city authorities in Australia (Sydney and Adelaide), Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) and USA (Long Beach, LA): recently including delivery the Design and Crime Exhibition for DOC, Sydney; consultancy for Adelaide City department of City Design and Character; practice-led research and strategy development for Spanish institutes for urban wellbeing and sports - INEF, CSD and BACC (respectively) and workshops for Long Beach Police Department with the ICA and DOCA. 

Willcocks has also co-developed the ‘Urban Lexicons’ street workshops, cultural probes and associated research and design developments, drawing on insights on how people instinctively respond to formal and informal details in residential, commercial, transport and green spaces that surround them.

Wilcocks lectures at Central Saint Martins, Elisava, and IED universities and has recently published and presented papers on many of his research topics.

Research interests

Social, spatial and co-design and research practices in response to shared, local or urban contexts; public sphere conflicts; socialised/unsocialised spaces; activity support, creative practice and informal or unexpected appropriations in cities.

My applications of these interests are largely through Socially Responsive Design, Design Against Crime, and social innovation disciplines, each drawing on the tools and processes of practice-led research and evaluation techniques, as well as industrial, spatial, communication, service, systems and related collaborative design activities.

Research statement

My practice-led research within UAL are largely realised through activities allied to the Design Against Crime Research Centre, Socially Responsive Design and Innovation hub, and the Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability (DESIS) UK Lab, headed Professor Lorraine Gamman and Professor Adam Thorpe, respectively.

In 2014-15, I am funded on the Graffolution EU FP7 project.

In 2013-15 I am continuing to expand my interrogation of opportunities to evidence social values and impacts connected to informal responses and creative practices generated or influenced by diverse interest-groups (publics) and communities, within designed and built environments.

My own design and research focus has emerged from my longstanding interests to investigate, evidence and extend through practice, the capacity of design and creative practices to empower communities, who may not previously have knowledge-of or access-to benefits and changes that can be facilitated through such disciplines.  

In particular, my research looks to identify and understand opportunities for social innovations, in response to informal interpretations and unanticipated uses of public spaces and contexts of related social and urban territories. Through this work, I am keen to understand what makes cities safe and sociable, for who, and how. Then to see this proven and see more best practice implemented to achieve positive change.

Selected research outputs

  • Less Crime, More Vibrancy, by Design

    Willcocks, Marcus and Ekblom, Paul (2017) Less Crime, More Vibrancy, by Design. In: Rebuilding Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Crime Science Series . Routledge/Taylor & Francis, Abingdon. ISBN 9781138919631

  • Graffolution D2.1 - Graffiti vandalism in public areas and transport report and categorisation model

    Willcocks, Marcus and Malpass, Matt and Toylan, Gamze (2014) Graffolution D2.1 - Graffiti vandalism in public areas and transport report and categorisation model. Technical Report. SYNYO Gmbh, Online.

  • Building Social? More like Designing to Afford Contestation

    Willcocks, Marcus (2016) Building Social? More like Designing to Afford Contestation. City: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action. ISSN 1360-4813

  • London Urban Creativity

    Willcocks, Marcus (2014) London Urban Creativity. In: Urban Creativity Experience. Lemo Editorial, Barcelona.

  • Graffiti Impact

    Willcocks, Marcus and Sabina, Andron (2013) Graffiti Impact. In: Graffiti Impact, 30 October 2013, London.

  • Olympic Park Interpretation Plan

    Willcocks, Marcus and Houghton, H. and Swindell, P. and Thefft, P. and Vitiello, Rosanna (2012) Olympic Park Interpretation Plan. UNSPECIFIED.

  • Reducing bag theft in bars

    Ekblom, Paul and Bowers, Kate J. and Gamman, Lorraine and Sidebottom, Aiden and Thomas, Chris and Thorpe, Adam and Willcocks, Marcus (2012) Reducing bag theft in bars. In: Design Against Crime: Crime Proofing Everyday Objects. Crime Prevention Studies, 27. Lynne Rienner, Boulder, Col. ISBN 9781588268136

  • Unravelling the urban lexicons of our everyday environments

    Willcocks, Marcus and Vitiello, Rosanna (2011) Unravelling the urban lexicons of our everyday environments. Lulu Publishing, Raleigh, NC, USA.

  • Sport and Social Inclusion: a guide for social intervention through sporting activities

    Willcocks, Marcus and Maza, Gaspar and Balibrea, Kety and Camino, Xavi and Duran, Javier and Jesús Jiménez, Pedro and Santos Ortega, Antonio (2011) Sport and Social Inclusion: a guide for social intervention through sporting activities. In: Sport and Social Inclusion: a guide for social intervention through sporting activities. Consejo Superior de Deportes, Madrid.

  • Design Against ATM Crime

    Gamman, Lorraine and Thorpe, Adam and Willcocks, Marcus (2011) Design Against ATM Crime. [Show/Exhibition]