The Bartlett School of Planning


Alumni Q&A: Yuxi Xiong

Former Urban Planning and Real Estate BSc student Yuxi Xiong shares her experiences studying at UCL and future research ambitions to advance a worldwide culture of healthy urban living.

Photograph of Yuxi in graduation robes at the UCL Portico

Yuxi Xiong graduated from Urban Planning and Real Estate BSc in 2023 and is now embarking on an MPhil in Planning, Growth and Regeneration at the University of Cambridge. In this Q&A Yuxi shares with us her experience of engaging with urban planning both in and outside the classroom, and how this has uncovered an ambition to understand individuals' urban encounters through both physical and neurological lenses.

How was UCL different to what you had known during your previous studies?

As a neurodiverse student coming from a different cultural background, UCL have provided all-around support for me to fully enjoy college life while showing my academic potential. I am amazed by how UCL cherish each student’s diversity.

What attracted you to UCL?

Spending most of my leisure time on self-studying about the built environment since an early age, The Bartlett became an inevitable name when I was reading about planning and architectural history. The Archigram movement and Space Syntax deeply fascinated me in high school, so I decided to study at the school where all these bright sparks.

What aspects of your studies did you enjoy the most?

I relish the hustle and bustle of navigating UCL's diverse teaching spaces with a cup of coffee in my hand. Whether it's late night team work in the Student Centre or doing practice presentations in Central House G01, our courses perfectly mimic real-world work scenarios to get us prepared. They've not only helped us forge friendships through teamwork but also equipped us with three years' worth of hands-on know-how.

What makes you most proud to be a UCL graduate?

Whenever I participate in academic conferences or collaborate with scholars from around the world, I am always pleasantly surprised to discover that the achievements of UCL and Bartlett alumni, as well as the new research findings from Bartlett faculties, are being widely discussed. I take pride in the profound international impact of UCL and Bartlett as educational and research institutions, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with alumni in my future academic career to propose even more innovative ideas.

What were the most interesting things you did, saw or got involved with while at UCL?

Being a student majoring in urban planning but participating in summer research in the field of cognitive neuroscience may have been the wildest part of my three years at UCL. I am highly interested in the urban experiences of neurodiverse individuals, and I was fortunate to be accepted by Dr. Sarah White from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience to conduct research on this topic under her guidance.

In what way did studying in London enrich your studies?

London, a dynamic and ever-evolving global city, offers urban planning students a diverse playground for hands-on learning. Under the guidance of Prof. Matthew Carmona, we took on the challenge of envisioning Canning Town's next quarter-century. This broadened my UCL experience beyond the lecture halls, immersing me in the fabric of London, where the quality of my designs was intricately tied to the daily lives of locals. Engaging in site visits and fieldwork across the city not only sharpened my academic prowess but also instilled in me a stronger sense of duty as a citizen of the world.

Photo of Yuxi undertaking fieldwork

Who inspired you most at UCL and why?

I am deeply grateful for the teachings of every faculty at The Bartlett, with Prof. Lauren Andres and Dr. Danielle Sanderson leaving the most lasting impression on me. In my first year, Prof. Andres assigned us a paper titled "what should be the directions (e.g.ideas, priorities, thoughts) of planning in the future". The reflections that arose while writing this assignment, as well as Prof. Andres' feedback and encouragement, became the driving force behind my continuous exploration of urban planning theory and interdisciplinary research throughout my undergraduate studies. As a student in the real estate field, every report assigned by Dr. Sanderson was a delightful intellectual challenge, as she always managed to select questions that were both inspiring and relevant to the industry. Beyond the classroom teaching, their passion and dedication on research sets a role model for me.

What advice would you give to a student considering UCL?

Never hesitate to reach out. UCL provides rich and enlightening experiences for students interested in all fields. UCL offers a wealth of enriching experiences for students in every area of interest. The abundant research opportunities, prestigious graduate programs with well-known companies, and a wide range of activities are all valuable experiences to pursue.

What are your future ambitions?

I’ve chosen the academia as my life-long career. My research ambition is centred on uncovering the core of individuals' urban encounters through both physical and neurological lenses. This endeavor is aimed at advancing a worldwide culture of healthy urban living, whilst designing the most liveable cities for all. As a past UCL undergraduate and present alum, I hope to revisit the campus as a mature researcher and collaborator in the future.

Are you interested in studying Planning at UCL?

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