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Prof Catalina Turcu
Room 528
Central House, 14 Upper Woburn Place
Prof Catalina Turcu profile picture
  • Professor of Sustainable Built Environment
  • The Bartlett School of Planning
  • Faculty of the Built Environment

I am Professor of Sustainable Built Environment at the Bartlett School of Planning and an interdisciplinary scholar by training (public policy, urban planning, architecture) and interest (sustainability). I am also Academic Director of UCL Stockholm City Partnership (Climate Change and Health in the City) and Founder of the UCL SDG Research Accelerator. I hold a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE) and degrees in housing (MSc, LSE), urban planning (MA, UAUIM) and architecture (BArch and DipArch, UAUIM). I have worked in architecture and planning consultancy for 10 years before joining academia.

Research Summary

ORCiD: 0000-0003-2663-2586

My work contributes to the understanding and measurement of urban sustainability at the local or community level. Theoretically, my research adds the political dimension to the traditional three-pillar (economic, social, environmental) understanding of sustainability. Empirically, my research examines sustainable urban transformations at the local level by integrating social, political and physical aspects of the built environment. My core research contributions are summarised below under three inter-related themes.

1. The role of politics in shaping urban sustainability. My work employs institutional lens to examine local sustainability processes in cities. It looks at formal institutions and governance frameworks that shape these processes, as well as informal institutions such as social responsibility and institutional trust.  

2. The social context of urban sustainability. My research contributes to an agency and intersectional understanding of sustainability which is bottom-up and place-based. The social production and re-production of sustainability knowledge at the local level is a recurring sub-theme here and has been extensively developed in relation to sustainability indicators.

3. Narratives of sustainable cities. In this body of work I look at how sustainable cities imaginaries (such as low-carbon, healthy, circular city) are applied in spatial planning and the built environment at the local level and/or in relation to Sustainable Development Goal 11 ('Sustainable Cities and Communities').

Current research projects:

  • FULL (Food for Urban Lives and Locality)
  • DenseHOUSE (Housing densification, social sustainability and placemaking)
  • CUSSH (Complex Urban Systems for Sustainability and Health)

Teaching Summary

Currently, I teach and convene the following modules at the postgraduate level:

- Sustainable Development Goals and Spatial Planning (coming 2023-2024)

- Since 2012 Sustainable Urban Development Project (BPLN0106, UCL, pgt)

- Since 2015 Major Research Projects (BPLN0052, UCL, pgt)

I have also taught on the following topics at UCL, LSE and UAUIM:

- 2012-2022 Sustainable Urban Developemnt Key Themes (UCL, pgt)

- 2015-2018 Governing urban sustainability (UCL, pgt)

- 2012-2014 Green futures (UCL, ug)

- 2012-2015 Making cities: the production of the built environment (UCL, ug)

- 2008-2012 Urban poverty, spatial and social exclusion (LSE, ug)

- 2007-2010 International housing and social change (LSE, ug)

- 1998-2000 Public administration and urban management (UAUIM, ug)

- 1998-2000 Materials and building specification (UAUIM, ug)

01-OCT-2022 Professor of Sustainable Built Environment Bartlett School of Planning University College London, United Kingdom
01-MAY-2021 Visiting Professorship Division of Political Science Linkoping University (Sweden), United Kingdom
01-SEP-2020 Academic Director UCL City Partnership Programme Stockholm Research, Innovation and Glovbal Engagement UCL, United Kingdom
15-OCT-2018 Visiting Professorship School of Urbanism Wroclaw Science and Technology University (Poland), United Kingdom
01-OCT-2017 – 01-OCT-2023 Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) Bartlett School of Planning Universitry College London, United Kingdom
01-JAN-2016 – 01-JAN-2019 Academic External Examiner, MSc Sustainable Planning School of Life and Medical Sciences University of Hertforshire, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2015 – 01-SEP-2019 Academic External Examiner, BSc and MSc Urban Studies Department of Urbanism University of Architecture and Urbanism Bucharest, Romania
01-SEP-2013 – 30-SEP-2017 Research Evaluator Urban and Rural Development FORMAS (Swedish Research Council), Sweden
01-OCT-2012 – 30-SEP-2017 Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Bartlett School of Planning University College London, United Kingdom
01-OCT-2012 – 30-SEP-2022 Programme Director, MSc Sustainable Urbanism Bartlett School of Planning University College London, United Kingdom
01-SEP-2007 – 01-SEP-2010 Postgraduate Teaching Assistant Social Policy London School of Economics, United Kingdom
01-SEP-1998 – 01-SEP-2000 Lecturer Technical and Building Studies University of Architecture Bucharest (UAUIM), Romania
Academic Background
2014   Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education University College London
2010   Doctor of Philosophy London School of Economics and Political Science
2001   Master of Science London School of Economics and Political Science
1999   Master Universitatea din Bucuresti
1996   Diploma of Architecture Universitatea din Bucuresti
1993   Bachelor of Architecture Universitatea din Bucuresti
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