UCL Department of Geography


Ana McMillin

Research Title

New Geographies of ‘Making’: Advanced manufacturing in the post-industrial urban context - The case of 3D Printing Industry in London

About Ana

Academic Qualifications

MPhil/ PhD candidate (part-time), Department of Geography, University College London

  • Title (working):  New Geographies of ‘Making’: Advanced manufacturing in the post-industrial urban context - The case of 3D Printing Industry in London

MSc UD Built Environment, Urban Design, The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London

  • Commendation, UCL Award for Outstanding Urban Design Thesis

Dip Arch, Diploma in Architecture, Faculty of Architecture, Technical University of Lisbon

  • Final Report Pass with Merit

Employment History

Associate, Senior Urban Designer, HTA Design LLP, London,

  • SMB team

Senior Architect / Masterplanner, Chapman Taylor LLP, London, UK, Middle East and Africa team

  • Member of the Executive and Business Development Groups

Architect, Grimshaw Architects, London

  • Cultural and Masterplanning team

Urban Designer, ARUP, London

  • Integrated Urbanism team, Group Planning Plus

Architectural Assistant (Part 2), Simbiose Arquitectos Associados, Lisbon

Intern Architect (Part 1), RBD.APP Studio Arquitectos, Lisbon

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Chartered Architect
  • Architects Registration Board (ARB), Registered Architect
  • Portuguese Order of Architects (OA), Effective Member
  • Urban Design Group (UDG), Member through HTA Design LLP

Other Experience


  • Input on Urban Design and Local Retail Design, Latin Elephant (non-profit, ethnic minority businesses in Elephant and Castle)


  • Input on Industrial Land Demand and Release Benchmark, Just Space: Planning and Economic Group ( JSEP)


  • Assistant Production for “The Assault”, Film and Performance, Project funded by The Arts Council England. Director Mario Pires Cordeiro, performing artist & Joao Lima Duque, pianist, Royal Albert Hall, London


  • Workshop in Planning, Planning Plus, Planning School, Arup, London


  • Student, Photography for Architecture programme, Ar.Co, Arte Contemporanea Institute, Lisbon


  • Student, Fine Art Life Drawing Programme (3 years), The National Society of Fine Arts, Lisbon
  • McMillin, A. and McMillin, M. Stoneleigh Terrace Gym for Garages, RIBA Forgotten Spaces 2013 (2013, 25th June), The Architects’ Journal.
  • McMillin, A. (2011). Urban narratives of Time-Images or the Drift of Alienation. In F. Neuhaus (Ed.), Studies in Temporal Urbanism - The urbanTick Experiment. London and New York: Springer.
  • McMillin, A. and McMillin, M. Greenland Beach, RIBA Forgotten Spaces 2011 (2011, 15th June), The Architects’ Journal.
  • Available at: http://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/home/riba-forgotten-spaces-2011/forgo...
  • Rebelo, A. & Resendes, M. (2000). Desenho Urbano, Rego. In Rodrigues, P. (Ed.), Desenho Urbano. Lisbon: Faculty of Architecture of The Technical University of Lisbon.

Recent years have been marked by a growing awareness of the need for diversifying urban economies and achieving greater resilience, in particular during the debates following the recent recession. Literature on evolutionary economic geography highlights that a recessionary shock can affect an urban economy for a longer period of time and even be irreversible due to economic path dependencies. The risk of a slump at the end of an economic cycle will be better spread and mitigated across a variety of sectors, and more sectorally diverse regions experience greater stability and higher rates of overall growth. It has also been documented that regions that consume more than they produce are more susceptible to recessionary shocks and need to develop other economies.

Theoretical work on post-industrialism has focused on various aspects and processes around the high-value cultural, cognitive, knowledge and service activities that replaced the old manufacturing share of regions. City centres have grown as a consequence of processes of innovation through sharing information, social networking, competition and re-combination of activities.

Building on these ideas, this project considers the scenarios and assumptions issued by writers, governmental departments (BIS Department), media (The Economist, The Guardian) and think tanks on the so-called 'Third Industrial Revolution as a possibility for growth.

But, even enabled through the latest technologies and through information and communication networks, manufacturing is unlikely to replace the dominant sectors and the existing supply chains in de-industrialised city regions. However, it may contribute to growth, job creation and resilience if linked to the economic diversification arguments. Developing the capability of ‘making things’ emerges thus as an almost ironic alternative in a post-Fordist city region. But, it may not be an ‘Industrial Revolution’, and instead, the resurgence of ‘making’, whether more technological or more craft, may be linked to the high-value activities and benefit from the way knowledge is shared and exchanged in the current Informationalism context.

The key questions that drive this project thus are: How do we theorise the resurgence of manufacturing / ‘making things’ within contemporary urban economic geography and reconcile this with post-Fordism theories? What are the new geographies of ‘Making’? What is the contribution that advanced manufacturing can make to jobs and to growth? Can advanced manufacturing capture the strength of a strategic urban location where most people and other businesses are located? Are these industries viable in urban areas and under what circumstances? How is knowledge transferred and recombined across the firms? What can we learn from the cases to inform current spatial planning policy?

Concentrating on the case of the 3D Printing Industry in London and its wider value chain, this research aims to contribute to empirical knowledge on the sector, and inform spatial planning policy responses. It will add to the understanding of incubation processes at the micro-scale, addressing specific forms of knowledge transfer and innovation in a post-Fordist urban global context. Building on the post-industrialist and evolutionary economic geography bodies of literature, this research will contribute to theorising the role of 'making' within contemporary capitalism and its urban economic geography.