The Bartlett School of Architecture


Innovation at the Urban Scale - The Bartlett International Lectures

23 March 2022, 6:00 pm–7:30 pm

Image: Foster + Partners

Martha Tsigkari and Laura Narvaez Zertuche use the Applied Research and Development and the Urban Design Group at Foster + Partners as a case study to examine the collaborative nature of research and development and how it draws on different ways of seeing to arrive at a design strategy.

This event is free.

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The Bartlett School of Architecture

This event will be streamed live on The Bartlett School of Architecture's YouTube channel at 18:00 GMT. No registration is required.


Streamed live on The Bartlett School of Architecture's YouTube channel, this event will be a hosted by Dr Sam Griffiths, Dr Kimon Krenz and Sonali Venkateswaran with speakers Laura Narvaez Zertuche and Martha Tsigkari.

This event forms part of The Bartlett International Lectures Spring 2022.

This spring, each of the International Lectures will be curated by one of the school's programmes to inspire, invent, imagine, and provoke. This event is curated by Space Syntax: Architecture & Cities MSc/MRes and Architectural Space and Computation PhD


Innovation at the Urban Scale

The practice of architecture, its methods, traditions, and know-how are today at the centre of passionate debates; challenged by other disciplines, arriving with new practices, and questioned from within. Amongst the factors that will leave a lasting impact on the discipline, technology is certainly one of the main factors at play. The inception of technological solutions at every step of the value chain has already significantly transformed the field of architecture and urban design. Foster + Partners are known for their pioneering use of technology in order to push the limits of what is possible in architecture and engineering.  As an inter-disciplinary practice, the practice employs a range of disciplinary perspectives and research techniques in order to gain a detailed understanding of the DNA of buildings and cities. Through the work of the Applied Research and Development and the Urban Design Group at Foster + Partners, the lecture will explore how the process of research and development is a profoundly collaborative one that weaves different ways of seeing – both analogue and technological – before arriving at a design strategy.

Speaker biographies

Martha Tsigkari is a Senior Partner at Foster + Partners. Her background spans architecture, engineering, and computer science. She has two decades of experience working in projects of all scales and uses. Martha’s work for the Applied Research and Development group incorporates computational design, human-computer interaction, machine learning, and optimisation. She has investigated the usage of deep neural networks and genetic algorithms in the design process, aiming to solve problems ranging from passively actuated micromaterials to performance-driven urban layouts. Joining Foster + Partners in 2006, she has provided designs and solutions for hundreds of diverse projects. Martha is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the Technical Chamber of Greece. She is also an Associate Professor at University College London, teaching postgraduate students at The Bartlett since 2009. She has lectured and published on the topic of computational design internationally.

Laura Narvaez Zertuche is an Associate Partner at Foster + Partners, where she leads people movement and spatial data analytics for informed decision-making in master planning projects. Joining since 2015, Laura’s work in the Urban Design Group incorporates research and strategies for a wide scale of designs, from new cities to complex buildings, assessing how issues such as pedestrian footfall, economic activity and social interactions will impact the viability, growth and long-term evolution of the projects. She has lectured internationally and has published on the topics of urban design, spatial economics and urban artificial intelligence. She is currently Visiting Lecturer at ETH Zurich within the Chair of Cognitive Sciences. She is a contributor and advisor of Urban AI – an international multi-disciplinary think-tank that investigates the ethical modes of governance and sustainable uses of artificial intelligence in cities. Laura is an architect and urban designer and graduated from Tec de Monterrey, Mexico. She gained a MSc and PhD in Architecture and the Built Environment from the Space Syntax Laboratory at The Bartlett in 2015.

Image: Foster + Partners

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