Course Leader

Giulio Verdini , Roudaina Alkhani

Course Info

BA Designing Cities

Our city of the future needs to be more resilient, sustainable, and adaptable as we face diverse challenges. The urgency of addressing climate change, economic stresses, inequalities, and public health crisis are showing their limits. Communities are making great efforts to adapt to everyday challenges and shocks, reinventing their way to use and experience the city. However, new architectural, urban design, and planning approaches are required to help cities meet current challenges and unpredictable futures capitalising on their strengths and potential.

Designing Cities brings together knowledge about the city and its diverse communities, exploration of the richness of architecture and public spaces, housing development, mobility, green and blue networks, urban ecologies, rural-urban synergies, and much more. It does so, prompting students to plan and design more sustainable places and futures.

The course addresses the challenge of building post-pandemic climate-resilient cities due to the unexpected outbreak of COVID that the world has faced in recent months. We have organised ‘industry projects’ with London-based practices, such as Jacobs, WSB, and INGMedia, to study various approaches to tackle the urban challenges of COVID, such as digital placemaking, forms of active travel, and tools to assess place productivity and wellbeing. Last year, we organised a virtual field trip in Milan and Berlin titled ‘Understanding neighbourhood in times of pandemic’ in collaboration with ILAUD, the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design, to explore how local communities have reacted to the pandemic and cities are changing.

The staff of Designing Cities has addressed such topics throughout the course, and various modules have emphasized resilience, and sustainability, and addressed climate change. The module ‘Sustainability and Environment has engaged the students this year in creating a Climate-Resilient Neighbourhood at Deptford - a historic naval dockyard and Thames-side neighbourhood. The area is part of both the London Borough of Lewisham and the Royal Borough of Greenwich. The Year 2 ‘Climate Urbanism Studio’ has investigated how to build up climate-resilient and inclusive post-pandemic neighborhoods, capitalising on existing learning from the COVID-19 outbreak. The studio focused on the borough of Newham in East London - one of the most diverse boroughs of London with a high level of social deprivation.

We have been successful in returning safely to campus for our studios. A blend of on-site and online teaching has been effectively put into practice for the rest of the modules, and we experimented with a rich variety of digital knowledge and design tools. Overall, we promote a project-based and cross-disciplinary learning approach, engaging with diverse expertise from architects, planners, urban designers, and economists and liaising with practitioners, policymakers, activists, and communities. The course is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as meeting the requirements for the spatial planning element of initial planning education.

Giulio Verdini & Roudaina Al Khani

Course Leaders