The Bartlett School of Planning


Helena Rivera

Research subject

Thesis title: Re-Inventing the British New Town of the 21st Century

Primary supervisor: Mark Tewdwr-Jones
Secondary supervisor: Pushpa Arabindoo
Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Starting date: August 2006
Projected completion date: September 2012 

Through a historical appraisal of the twentieth century, this research looks at how the planning process and its key policy decisions contributed to the decline of Mark 1 New Towns in Britain. It establishes the way in which the new towns programme (1945-1967) was a coordinated planning response to facilitate building new communities in England. It then considers how we deal with the same issues   within a different context, specifically; to what extent and how the New Labour's Urban Renaissance agenda (1997-2007) addressed the issues attached to the legacy of Mark 1 New Towns in Britain while developing a framework for sustainable communities?


Helena studied architecture at the Bartlett,UCL and completed her Masters at the Royal College of Art. From 2000- 2004 she worked at Alsop Architects which is an architecture company that is characterised for its arts-based approach to design and creative solutions to public spaces. In 2004 after having worked on a variety of projects from the Rotterdam Master Plan to The PuBlic, an arts centre in West-Bromwich, she left Alsop Architects to set up A Small Studio, of which she is Director. A Small Studio is an architecture practice that prioritises interdisciplinary and research projects. To date it has collaborated with other architects, artists, photographers, policy-makers and product designers to produce a portfolio of work ranging from small projects to large urban interventions.

Helena is currently Lecturer for Diploma and MA students of Landscape Architecture and Urbanism in Kingston University. 

Publications and other work
  • For a full review of Helena’s project, visit A Small Studio.
  • Book review: Social Sustainability in Urban Areas: Communities Connectivity and the Urban Fabric, edited by Tony Manzi, Karen Lucas, Tony Lloyd Jones and Judith Allen. London, Earthscan, 2010 244pp.,