Adriana Portella (Brazil)

Adriana Portella has been doing research in the area of environment-behaviour since 1997. Her interest is to understand how urban environment can affect human behaviour focusing in the following subjects: elderly and healthy cities, urban design, urban sustainability, urban accessibility and mobility, social housing, preservation of historic heritage, and urban planning. She has been publishing works related with the following topics: environmental quality; sense of place; social housing; visual pollution; preservation of historic cities, user’s behaviour, perception and cognition; urban mobility and accessibility; wayfinding in urban areas; space syntax; social segregation and urban density.

She has a degree in Architecture and Urbanism at the Federal University of Pelotas (2001), and a Master degree in Urban and Regional Planning at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (2003) both institutions in Brazil. In September 2003, she began her PhD in Urban Design at The Joint Centre for Urban Design of Oxford Brookes University in England. The thesis was based on environmental psychology concepts and methodology. Her thesis analysed the influence of urban tourism, marketing the city, heritage preservation, and environment perception on the design of commercial streetscapes in order to understand its effects on people behaviour and quality of life. The thesis was concluded in May 2007.

In July 2007, she began a Post-doctoral research in the Bartlett School of Planning of University College London, also in England, with Professor Matthew Carmona. During one year, she participated of the research ‘Global place, contested space? The case of the ‘new’ London squares’, funded by ESRC. Since August 2008, she is a Professor at the School of Architecture and Urban Planning of Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil. Between January 2009 to May 2013, she was the head of the Master course in Architecture and Urbanism of the same institution. Since March 2016, she is the Head of Architecture and Urban Planning Department.

In 2014, the findings of her PhD thesis were published in London as a book entitle ‘Visual Pollution: Advertising, Signage and Environmental Quality’. The book was published by Ashgate ( In addition, she has been published 12 papers in national and international journals, three chapters in international books, and one chapter in a national book. All publication related with studies developed in the area of environment-behaviour.

In January 2016, the Project coordinated by Adriana in Brazil and Ryan Woolrych from Heriot-Watt University in UK ‘Place-Making with Older People: Towards Age Friendly Communities’ won the International Call ‘Cities Health and Social Science of the Food-Water-Nexus Energy Call’. This was a Newton Fund call to support join research projects between UK and Brazil. This project is between the four projects selected in the area of Healthy Cities-Urban. The project is an environment-behaviour research and aims to investigate how sense of place is experienced by older people from different social settings living in diverse neighbourhoods in Brazil and the UK, to translate these experiences into designs for age friendly communities that support sense of place, and to better articulate the role of older adults as active placemakers in the design process by involving the community at all stages of the research. The project will be developed in three years and is funded by ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

My first IAPS Conference was in Alexandria, later I went to the Conferences in Rome, Glasgow and Timisoara. IAPS was the first association where I could identify myself regarding my academic and research activities. I am interested in understand how built environment can influence behaviour and how we can stimulate and increase better quality of life. In developing countries as Brazil, urbanization is still very peccary in many cities, and since my graduation I am interested in understand how we can improve people life though urban revitalization projects that would take into consideration populations wishes, needs, desires, and perceptions. The IAPS Conferences were the first congresses that I met people that share the same views with me and discuss these subjects in an international research level. The area of environmental psychology is growing fast in Brazil, and we have a group of researchers that are developing many environment-behaviour studies to support urban transformation.

In this way, I feel linked with the IAPS objectives and interests and, if possible, I would like to contribute with research discussions bringing issues related to environment studies developed in Brazil, and other developing countries. I also believe that the multidisciplinary network is an important step to disseminate the importance of studies related with human behaviour, and I would like to contribute with this.


I have Known Adriana through her work submitted to various IAPS conferences. Her focus on environment behaviour studies has always been tied to the design and management of public space in Brazil. She contributes an important design focus to our group and her presence on the Board is an important step in maintaining a positive collaboration between theory and practice.


I have known Adriana since she was my master student at PROPUR (Postgraduate Program in Urban and Regional Planning), Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), in the field of environment and behaviour studies. She is a very responsible and competent person and has contributed to the field of study through her master and Ph.D. thesis and publications. Therefore, her presence on the Board is an important contribution to IAPS.