The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU alumni speak at the Strelka ‘Future Architect conference’ in Moscow, Russia

1 November 2019

Fantastic work by DPU alumni Joana Dabaj and Riccardo Luca Conti, co-founders of CatalyticAction charity, who have received the Bronze LafargeHolcim award for sustainable construction for their project “Pavilion re-claimed for refugee education”


At the ‘Future architect’ conference, Joana and Riccardo received the Bronze LafargeHolcim award and explained how their winning project of the Jarahieh school focuses on community empowerment as central to sustainable design. “Architecture is not just about building, but also about adapting processes and seizing opportunities for community empowerment,” Joana said. Strelka conference ‘Future architect’ is a series of lectures, discussions and workshops on trends and challenges that young architects are facing today.


Catalytic Action
Following the theme of their talk “The architecture of complicity: how to work in with the global migration crisis”, Joana and Riccardo also showed examples from other completed projects where they focus on community participation to improve the impact of their projects. They showcased the participatory spatial intervention project implemented in partnership with DPU’s Associate Professor Andrea Rigon, where local communities co-designed their public space and participated in its construction.

The duo encouraged young architects to participate in the LafargeHolcim Awards competition 6th cycle “It meant a lot to us as a young practice to receive such a prestigious acknowledgement – there are many benefits to being part of the LafargeHolcim Awards”. Joana Dabaj is a member of the jury for the LafargeHolcim Awards 2020 for the region of Middle East Africa.  The awards competition is open for entries until February 25, 2020.

During their same visit to Russia, CatalyticAction’s co-founders attended the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2019 presentation ceremony in Kazan, Russia, where  their project, Jarahieh school, had been shortlisted. During the event they met Dr. Shadia Yousef Touqan, a DPU alumna who obtained her PhD in Urban Development and Planning in 1995. It was a very joyful moment for the three DPU alumni, across generations, to meet in Russia and discuss their shared interests and values.