Beatrice De Carli

Dr Beatrice A De Carli



T: +44 (0)114 222 0359

I am an architect specialising in international development and uneven urbanisation. I completed my architectural studies at Politecnico di Milano, Italy, including a PhD in Architecture and Urbanism developed in collaboration with the University of Leuven (2011). Prior to joining the University of Sheffield in 2014, I held teaching positions both in Milan and Leuven, and I worked in practice for several years.

My research and teaching explore questions concerning globalisation and differentiated development through architectural thinking and practice, with a focus on issues of equality, diversity, and participation in urban areas. My current work examines the self-organised tactics enacted by citizens to re/appropriate urban space, and their capacity to produce transformative meanings, spaces and social relations vis-à-vis dominant urban narratives and planned interventions. Through participatory design and mapping explorations, I am interested in reflecting on the methodological and pedagogical implications of understanding spatial practice as inherently embedded in local concerns and contestations, and related to the construction of more just futures. I explore some of these questions through my engagement with Architecture Sans Frontières UK (ASF-UK), a non-profit organisation that works between architecture and community and international development practice.

Teaching Activities

I am currently the Programme Leader for the MA in Urban Design (MAUD).

My PGT teaching involves delivery and co-ordination of the core modules of the MAUD programme: Urban Design Project 1, 2, and 3 (ARC6978, ARC6981, ARC6982). Additionally I recently designed a module entitled: Spatial Practice and Development (ARC6977), exploring the production of urban space as it relates to changing notions and perceptions of ‘development’ in cities of the global South. I also run a research-led PGT/MArch design studio, and contribute to the modules Critical Spatial Theory (ARC6741), Participation in Architecture and Urban Design (ARC6983), Urban Design Tools and Methods (ARC6979), and Reflection on Urban Design Practice (ARC6985), as well as to MArch dissertation supervision (ARC556).

Since 2010 I have been involved in the design and delivery of Architecture Sans Frontières International independent learning programme Challenging Practice: Essentials for the Social Production of Habitat. With ASF-UK, I have been part of the team facilitating workshops on participatory design in Quito, Ecuador (2013), London, UK (2014) and Cape Town, South Africa (2015).

I have been a guest lecturer and reviewer at a number of UK and international schools including The Bartlett Development Planning Unit at University College London, the School of Architecture at Oxford Brookes University, the Department of Architecture, Urbanism and Planning at the University of Leuven.

Research Interests

My research focuses on two main strands:

Architecture, Participation and the Governance of Space. My applied research has focused on participatory design and planning methodologies to address socio-spatial inequality in cities, especially in the rapidly changing contexts of the global South. I am interested in exploring collective imagination as a form of spatial practice. I aim to investigate which types of knowledge and methods might allow for generating future visions that challenge exclusionary urban processes and articulate the diverse aspirations of marginalised citizens. I have addressed these questions through action research and learning initiatives. These include Mapping San Siro, which I co-initiated in 2012, (2012/13) at Politecnico di Milano as part of the trans-disciplinary research platform The Heuristics of Mapping Urban Environmental Change at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit; and the Change by Design programme at ASF-UK, which I joined in 2011 (ongoing).

Learning and Urban Practices. Since 2010 I have engaged with the education of built environment practitioners striving to work in the context of uneven urbanisation. I am interested in exploring the limits of current architectural pedagogy, and in the processes of knowledge generation linking academic research and learning to the practices and lived experiences of citizens, community organisations, NGOs, as well as public and private institutions. This work has had direct implications on my position as a teacher, and as a reflection on the roles of universities in cities. I have addressed some of these issues through the co-management of the civic engagement/live projects platform Polisocial at Politecnico di Milano (2012/13), and through my continued engagement with the independent learning programme Challenging Practice based at ASF-International.

At the nexus between these strands, I am currently working on a collaborative research project entitled Insurgent Regeneration. This project aims to explore and critically examine the multiple narratives and spatial practices that accompany processes of urban renewal in decaying inner city areas in the global South, where self-organised resident occupations are taking place. This research originated through a Visiting Research Fellowship at The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment (2014), and includes a collaboration with the post-graduate programme in Planning and Territorial Management of the Universidade Federal do ABC – in partnership with the local housing movement União dos Movimentos de Moradia (UMM), and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit at UCL.

I am a co-founder of the research group Globalisation and Spatial Practice (GaSP), and contribute to the work of AGENCY – Transformative Research into Architectural Practice and Education.

Global Praxis studio Insurgent regeneration ASF-UK Change by Design Quito 2013


A list of key publications can be found below. For a full list of recent publications please click here.

Journal articles