Professor Michael Neuman, teaching Sustainable Urbanism in the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, has co-developed the organisation of a two-week sustainable urban design workshop in Florence in June. He was joined by Westminster students who presented their ideas to local authorities in connection with sustainable urban developments for the City of Florence and its new metropolitan government.

Between 29 May and 8 June, Professor Michael Neuman co-led the Collaborative and interdisciplinary international design charrette on sustainable urbanism, taking place in Florence, with the help of fellow Professor Camilla Perrone from the University of Florence. The event was funded by a £39,000 grant from the University of Westminster’s Strategic Research Fund.

The workshop analysed and developed prototype urban development solutions for a specific site in Florence. The aim of the project was to develop solutions improving the health and well-being of the metropolitan area’s population.

The two-week workshop involved discussions and exploratory research between architects, technicians, urban designers, political scientist, engineers, sociologists as well as Master of Architecture (MArch RIBA Pt II) students and academics from the University of Westminster and the University of Florence.

At the end of the event, Westminster students had the opportunity to deliver a presentation about their work project in the highly regarded Palazzo Medici, seat of the Metropolitan City of Florence, to which government representatives attended as part of the preparation of a metropolitan plan for the area.

Michael Neuman

Benjamin Street, one of the Westminster Master of Architecture (MArch RIBA Pt II) students who took part in the workshop, said about the event: “This trip was an incredible opportunity to learn about cutting edge sustainability research and grapple with putting it into practice on a highly complex site while learning how to work with other disciplines under a challenging timescale, all set against a stunning backdrop of historic piazzas and palazzo.”

Jennifer Nguyen, another Westminster student said: “The two-week design workshop was the perfect balance between being given a challenge and learning, it was a truly enjoyable and valuable experience. We explored and analyzed multiple design solutions to an intense degree to help contribute to a potential future proposal.”

Professor Michael Neuman also gave his thoughts on the students’ project: “The students worked on a complex, five square kilometre area in the periphery of Florence, which is of great interest to the new Metropolitan City Government of Florence. The students’ analysis and their proposals were of great interest to it. In fact, a number of managers in government attended the students’ final presentations, which were held in the renowned Palazzo Medici in the heart of historic Florence."

Next year, the sustainable urban design workshop will take place in London and will invite students from the University of Florence to discuss and research solutions for improving the sustainability of one of London’s districts.

The University of Westminster is dedicated to address the everyday issues of environmental and urban sustainability by understanding its impacts and measuring its results. The University’s Environmental Policy outlines the commitment to continual improvement in environmental performance in compliance with legal requirements.

Find out more about the Master of Architecture (MArch RIBA Pt II) course at the University of Westminster.

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