The Bartlett School of Architecture


Chi Nguyen

The 2017 draft London Plan (published by the Greater London Authority).


Civic Publishing for Urban Change in Contemporary London: the role of publishing in public conversations about the city


Publishing and publics, urban communication, collective action, urban change

First and second supervisors 


Government documents, like the London Plan, materially shape London’s future and strategic spatial development. Concurrently, local communities produce and disseminate their alternative plans and visions of urban change. Both represent particular claims to the city and specific expressions of inclusivity and diversity in civic participation. These two scales of publications often meet in tension, if they meet at all.

This research project addresses that communication gap through collaborative design-based practices, and theoretical investigations. Drawing together ideas of ‘publics’ and ‘flow’, it considers how these different texts of the city can better interact across government and community levels. This is explored through writing experiments, and collaborative work with different collectives in publishing workshops, on concepts of copy, edit, remix, and amplify.

Examining the charged role of publishing at the civic scale in London and in public conversations about the city, the thesis analyses the ‘publishing practices’ (Gilbert, Thurston) of both government and self-organised community groups from a critical media and communication design perspective. The research looks beyond the common understanding of such publications from a policy, administrative and historic view, and focuses on publishing as a civic practice in urban discourse. Through this, it seeks to expand publication scholarship with an original interpretation of civic publishing as a connective ‘gesture’ (Muller) having motion and agency in urban debates.


Chi Nguyen is a multidisciplinary designer working across visual communication and architecture. She designs books, exhibitions, and interactions, and has led the communications efforts of some of Toronto’s top architecture studios.

Chi's design work has been exhibited at the Lethaby Gallery and Somerset House in London UK, and at the Hong Kong–Shenzhen Biennale on Architecture and Urbanism in China. She contributed to the book Engaged Urbanism, Cities & Methodologies from UCL UrbanLab, and was a writer and editorial designer for Unknown Quantities, University of the Arts London’s interdisciplinary journal on art, design, and criticism.

Chi holds degrees in Graphic Communication Design (Central Saint Martins) and Architecture (Carleton University), with additional training in Art and New Media from OCAD University and the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design.

Her practice-based PhD research at The Bartlett School of Architecture currently looks into the civic role of publishing in public-led conversations about cities.

Image: The 2017 draft London Plan (published by the Greater London Authority).