UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Symbiotic Urbanisation for Mutual Prosperity

03 March 2022, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

Natural prosperity

The IGP welcomes Sarah Ichioka (Desire Lines) for a Soundbite

This event is free.

Event Information

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Institute for Global Prosperity

The metaphors we hold in our minds when we design, develop, and inhabit our cities are essential in shaping our actions. Learning from natural systems and Indigenous practices will provide essential wisdom for how we can live in a post-extractive era. Contemporary science and appreciation of traditional cultures are converging on principles of connection and interdependence; what does this mean for our built environment?

The talk will survey some historic examples of collaboration in the built environment alongside contemporary case studies from around the world that make the case for the power of symbiosis to build healthy, regenerative communities. Drawing on Ichioka’s professional experiences and research, including her recent book, Flourish: Design Paradigms for Our Planetary Emergency (co-authored with architect and biomimicry expert Michael Pawlyn), the talk will introduce some of the principles, processes and systems that underpin these successful examples. 

The Speaker: 

Sarah Ichioka is an urbanist, curator and writer. She currently leads Desire Lines, a strategic consultancy for environmental, cultural, and social-impact organizations and initiatives. In previous roles, she has explored the intersections of cities, society and ecology within leading international institutions of culture, policy and research.

Sarah’s outlook is glocal, interdisciplinary and future-facing. She has been recognized as a World Cities Summit Young Leader, one of the Global Public Interest Design 100, a British Council / Clore Duffield Cultural Leadership International Fellow, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Before relocating to Asia in 2014, Sarah served as Director of The Architecture Foundation (UK) and Co-Director of the London Festival of Architecture. She led the significant expansion of the Foundation’s international profile, earning acclaim for a lively program of public space activations, exhibitions, international exchanges for new architects, design competitions, lectures, symposia, films, and youth education. Underpinning this, Sarah cultivated strategic partnerships with stakeholders such as embassies, cultural institutes, galleries, awards, and business improvement districts; and initiated robust revisions of the organization’s governance, management and communication systems.

Sarah’s critical writing has been published by the Serpentine Gallery (Koenig), the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism (Actar), Barbican (Prestel), Mies van der Rohe Award (Actar), and the Urban Age (Phaidon). She is frequently asked to share her perspectives in globally recognized media outlets. Her commentary and reportage have been featured in CNN.com, Monocle, BBC London, Folha de S.Paulo, Design/Anthology, and Abitare, amongst others.

Embracing opportunities to cultivate new ideas and to advance discourse about the social dynamics of the built environment, Sarah has served as an adviser or judge for many diverse projects, including the XXII Milan Triennale, the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, the European Prize for Urban Public Space, and the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative.

Raised in California, Sarah holds degrees from Yale University and the London School of Economics and Political Science.