I am a Senior Lecturer in Spatial Planning at the University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. My expertise sits within the field of urban studies and planning with a key interest in urban temporalities, air pollution and planning education. I have extensive expertise in leading and participating to interdisciplinary projects, in a variety of contexts mainly Europe, Africa and Brazil.
My research is at the intersection of debates in urban planning and urban geography. The key word summarising what I have been exploring for the last fifteen year is ‘urban transformations’, at different spatial and time scales. This includes social economic changes and their impact in the production of derelict spaces, environmental changes and challenges for sustainable and resilient planning and governance and political changes leading to various voices to interfere in the production of new urban spaces.
I am leading the GEES Urban Initiative. The Urban Initiative operates as an interdisciplinary virtual centre bringing together researchers from the School in the areas of human (particularly urban and economic) and physical geography, urban planning, environmental and health sciences. It also includes undergraduates, postgraduates, alumni and stakeholders interested in the urban and will collaborate with other scientists and research units across the University and beyond. The Initiative opens new avenues for collaboration, funding and engagement for the School, the College and the University.
My work has been instrumental in developing an innovative approach to examining urban temporalities and rhythms and specifically to understanding the role of periods of stasis and of dereliction in the production of urban spaces. As such, it has developed a new field of expertise so called ‘temporary urbanism’ which relates to any planned or unplanned actions designed and thought through with the ambition of activating a space in need of transformation and thus of impacting the surrounding socio-economic environment. I have developed the Temporary Urbanism Lab to allow researchers and practitioners interested in this issue to connect.
My recent grant successes (see research page) are exemplary of my engagement in international interdisciplinary collaborations. While for example SAPER looks at the internationalisation of planning education, ASAP East Africa focuses on air pollution and stresses the importance of the built environment and the local urban context in assessing such environmental and public health issues. In Brazil, through the ‘Re-Inhabiting the City’ project, we question the re-use/re-design of vacant spaces in Sao Paulo's vacant urban core, aiming to support the sustainable reoccupation of underused or abandoned buildings, creating places that are comfortable, resilient to climate change and occupied by a vibrant healthy community.
My contribution also includes key outputs to the urban and everyday resilience debate, looking at communities and SMEs and thus interrogating the impact of socio-economic downturns on the development of coping strategies and tactics.