About the faculty
Senior Lecturer in Planning, Course Leader for Designing Cities: Planning and Architecture BA Honours
Department of Planning and Transport
Please tell us a bit about the course that you are involved in?
Designing Cities: Planning and Architecture BA Honours is a new innovative and interdisciplinary course between planning and architecture, which has been set up in response to the recent evolution of the job market. It aims to train a new generation of city experts capable of facing the complexity of our contemporary cities, designing them in more sustainable ways.
What advice would you give students considering studying Designing Cities: Planning and Architecture BA Honours?
If students are curious and keen to achieve a deep understanding of complex global phenomena, Designing Cities will bring them to the right place. While focusing on cities as their main subject of study, they will be asked to shape them by testing different design solutions. It will be an exciting learning-by-doing process.
What was your first job? What did you learn from it?
A few months before getting my degree in Architecture, I was asked to join a team of planners and architects involved in designing strategies and solutions for improving the landscape quality of the city of Ferrara in Italy. At that time, discussions on how to implement the then recently approved European Landscape Convention (2000) opened up concrete possibilities of collaboration between planners and designers. Therefore, the day after the submission of my dissertation, I was already involved in this exciting interdisciplinary work which later informed my whole career.
What did you do in your career before coming to Westminster?
I worked in China for almost six years contributing to setting up a new department of urban planning and design at XJTLU in Suzhou. Later on, when I was appointed co-director of the XJTLU Research Institute of Urbanisation, I devoted much of my time to studying sustainable urban solutions for China advising local governments at the same time.
The most rewarding experience was the design and then implementation of a strategic plan for sustainable development for a peri-urban village in Wujiang, Jiangsu Province. This project has been shortlisted among the finalists of the 2015 Asian Townscape Award, organized by the UN-Habitat Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.
What has been the highlight of your career to date?
I have been always curious to navigate in unknown fields and I have often attempted to practice interdisciplinarity. This is why I decided to embark on a PhD in economics after my studies in architecture and urban planning.
Moreover, I have lived in many countries including in South America and China, where I have witnessed the urban transformations of fast changing societies. This has helped me understand notions of transferability and applicability of urban planning and design concepts across countries and cultures. I believe that these are important skills that our students should become aware of, considering how increasingly global and multicultural cities are.
What advice would you give students during their studies and after graduation?
Our students will have to be both creative and rigorous. Creative in reinventing and designing the cities of tomorrow. Rigorous in understanding the processes behind their continuous transformations. My advice is to keep this in mind to successfully complete the course and, later on, to be real credible global innovators in their future career.
What are your interests/leisure activities?
For research and for fun I developed a real fascination for what stands beyond the boundary of cities, no matter if it is countryside or the unclear urban-rural fringe. Therefore, I like to do rural tourism and to walk in natural parks, mountains and so on. As this doesn’t happen frequently, I take whatever chance comes along to run in city parks. I do love sports and outdoor activities.