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About me

Giulio Verdini is Reader at the School of Architecture and Cities of the University of Westminster and Director of the BA Designing Cities: Planning and Architecture. He is moreover Visiting Professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University of Ben Guerir, in Morocco. Prior to that he was Assistant and then Associate Professor in Urban Planning and Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China (2010-2016), and founder Co-Director of the XJTLU Research Institute of Urbanisation (2013 – 2016).  His research is broadly focused on culture and sustainable urban and rural development, with a particular focus on China and the Global South. He is the Editor of the Routledge Book Series ‘Planning, Heritage and Sustainability and member of the editorial board of 'Built Heritage'.

He regularly serves as expert for international organisations such as UNESCO, WHITRAP Shanghai, UN-HABITAT. He was one of the lead contributors of the UNESCO Global Report ‘Culture for Sustainable Urban Development’ (2016) and principal investigator of the UNESCO Report 'Culture 2030 I Rural-Urban Development. China at a glance' (2019). He is currently an affiliate of the UN-HABITAT 'Planners for Climate Action' Initiative.

He was a visiting scholar at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociale, CNRS - Centre d'Etudes sur la Chine Moderne et Contemporaine in Paris (2013); a visiting research fellow of the Alfa Program, EU-Latin America Cooperation, at the Institute of Urban Theory, Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay (2005); Visiting Scholar at XJTLU, in China (2016-2019).

Over the years, Dr. Verdini has combined his research activities with planning consultancy in Europe and China. He graduated in Architecture and holds a Phd in Economics, Urban and Regional Development, from the University of Ferrara in Italy.


He has been involved in curriculum development of UG and PG programmes in urban planning and design in China and the UK. He served as Chair of the Learning and Teaching Committee of the Department of Urban Planning and Design, XJTLU, and Programme Director of the Master in Urban Planning, XJTLU. He occasionally teaches in capacity building programmes for practitioners in the field of urban conservation and management. At Westminster, he is the Programme Director of BA Designing Cities: Architecture and Planning’, editing its related BLOG. His teaching area is in strategic spatial planning, planning theory, research methods in the urban field, history of the urban form and urban design. 



1. Culture and sustainable rural development 

He is currently engaged in research and international policy advice on culture and sustainable rural development, with a focus on smart and creative-led strategies for rural revitalisation. For this reason he was: invited expert at the UNESCO International Conference Culture for Sustainable Cities in Hangzhou (December 2015); the co-organiser of an International Seminar at Cité de l'architecture & du Patrimoine in Paris on the cultural dimension of urbanization (February 2016); invited speaker at the Second UNESCO Creative Cities Summit in Beijing (June 2016); invited foreign expert at the International Forum  on 'Small Settlements Conservation', organized by the People`s Government of Qiandongnan Prefecture, Guizhou Province (October 2016); invited expert at the event 'Culture Urban Future: UNESCO Urban Network on Culture', organised by UNESCO in Paris (January 2017); invited expert at the international meeting on the 'Implementation of the UNESCO HUL Recommendation' organised by WHITRAP in Shanghai (March, 2018); invited panelist at the XII Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in Katowice, Poland (June 2018); invited guest at the Smart City Forum in Casablanca, Morocco (April 2019); scientific advisor for the International UNESCO Conference on 'Culture 2030 Rural-Urban Development' held in Meishan, China (June 2019); keynote speaker at the Symposium ‘Culture for Sustainable Rural-Urban Development’ organised by Tshwane University of Technology and SALGA (South African Local Government Association), in Pretoria (October 2019).

2. Urban Sustainability and urban-rural linkages

He has been involved in research on urban growth, urban sustainability and urban-rural linkages, being the recipient of competitive grants from the Suzhou Social Science and Philosophy Foundation and the Department of Education of the Jiangsu Province. His research has been also supported by local governments, international organisations, NGOs and renowned research institutes (see below). He co-chaired the Russel Group China Workshop on ‘Sustainable Cities in Suzhou (2015) and organized several seminars, symposiums and expert workshops on this topic. He published an edited book for Routledge ‘Urban China’s Rural Fringe. Actors, dimensions and management challenges’ (2016), and he is now involved in the writing of a book on rural-urban linkages and rural revitalisation in South Africa.

 3. Urban education for sustainability

He has an overarching interest in urban education for sustainable development, as a result of his involvement in the International COST Action INTREPID, on Inter and trans - disciplinarity in urban studies and due to a long lasting engagement in participatory urban design workshops and co-production of knowledge as a member of ILAUD, the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design. This research interest has recently evolved into the study of decolonising urban curricula. 


- Globally-informed Climate Pedagogy & Practice (UoW SCUE with UN-HABITAT, 2019 - ongoing);

Creative Towns in China (WHITRAP, 2018 - ongoing);

- Culture and Urban-Rural Linkages (UNESCO, 2016/19);

- Creative Towns - The case of Calabria (NGO Accademia di Gagliato, 2016/19);

- Interdisciplinarity in Urban Studies - WG3 member (EU COST Action INTREPID, 2015/19);

- Bottom-up Rural Development China (Wujiang District, 2015);

- Intermediate Cities China (CODEV-EPFL, 2014/15);

- Urban Fringe Planning and Institutions (Jiangsu Department of Education, 2014/16);

- Local Food Systems (Suzhou Social Science Philosophy Foundation, 2012);

- Open-Space Non-Market Value (Suzhou Social Science Philosophy Foundation, 2011);

- TESS, Intensive Programme in Territorial Empowerment and Social Sustainability (EU Lifelong Learning Programme, 2011/14);

- Chinese Clustering in Southern Europe (XJTLU Research Fund, 2010/12);

- LAPIS, Intensive Programme in Landscape Studies (EU Lifelong Learning Programme, 2009/11);


- Anna Yu Guo, Administrative restructuring as a strategy of urban governance in China, University of Liverpool (2014 - 2016, MPhil);

- Sabina Cioboata, Wellbeing and quality of life in the context of urban regeneration in China, UoW (2017);

- Hocine Aouchal, Towards a management of HUL in Algeria, University of Annaba (2017, as Co-Director of studies);

 - Mengran Zhu, Culture-led urban regeneration in China - The case of Chengdu, UoW (2018);

- Matthew Priestman, Fluid City. The agency of architectural practice in understanding and shaping rapid urbanisation in China, UoW (2018, as Co-Director of Studies);

- Shengkang Fu, Place making in Chinese cities: public art and community engagement, UoW (2020);

- Alain Chiaradia, Urban Form and Travel Patterns, UoW (PhD by published work, 2020, as Co-Director of Studies);

- Xiao Ma, London Chinatown: Heritage management and Chinese diaspora identities, UoW (2020, as Co-Director of Studies);


He regularly serves as Expert Evaluator for the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission (H2020). He has been external examiner for PhD students in the field of architecture and urban studies at Polytechnic University of Milan and University of Sassari.


Best paper award at the 5th International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) in Singapore (2011) and Second Prize of Outstanding Research Paper Award, 8th Academic Conference on Social Science of Suzhou, China (2015). The participatory design workshop organised in Shuang Wan Cun, Wujiang District, has been shortlisted as finalist for the '2015 Asian Townscape Award' of UN-HABITAT, Asia and the Pacific Office, and later on selected as best practice of implementation of the UNESCO HUL Approach.


For details of all my research outputs, visit my WestminsterResearch profile.