UCL News


Seven questions with... Abdelkawy Abdou

29 January 2021

This week we meet first-year PhD student Abdel, who is President of The UCL Review. Here, he shares some amazing spots for views of the London Skyline – both on campus and beyond – plus where to catch a sighting of roaming peacocks...

Abdelkawy Abdou

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I’m doing a PhD at the Bartlett School of Construction and Project Management related to increasing digitisation of buildings and their management. This area particularly interests me because it sheds light on the ordinarily unseen complexity that goes into ensuring buildings work properly for us but also the inefficiency that this can lead to. Carbon emissions from operating buildings account for nearly 30% of global emissions – by researching the effect new technology can have on increasing the efficiency of building processes, I hope I can contribute to the future reduction of this figure.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

The opportunity that I’ve had to engage with the UCL community, in my position as the President of The UCL Review, has been the most interesting aspect of my first term at UCL. Being a research-focused initiative, it has enabled me to meet – albeit virtually – a lot of great people within UCL who have been immensely helpful in providing their insight and expertise, and I look forward to using this as an opportunity to contribute to the culture at UCL.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

For this I’d have to say the south facing view from 1–19 Torrington Place. Was really surprised how much you could see of the London skyline from a humble student study space! Ironically I probably wouldn’t have come across this under normal, non-COVID conditions even though it’s where my department is situated.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

  1. Experiencing a big advantage of circular architecture at the top of the Gherkin
  2. Catching a sighting of the peacocks roaming around Kyoto Gardens
  3. Visiting the White Cube gallery in Mason’s Yard

If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?

This is a tricky one – hopefully it’d be a day of Summer, post-COVID, because I’d be tempted to have a university-wide garden party to give everyone an opportunity to unwind and relax a little bit. For a single day’s work I think that would go quite far in spreading positivity after such a tumultuous year and remind us how to socialise again!

Who inspires you and why?

I find Christian von Koenigsegg, founder and CEO of the Swedish hyper-car manufacturer Koenigsegg, incredibly inspirational for turning his vision of what a high performance car should be into such an innovative company. I think an important part of this appreciation comes from the fact that as I’ve grown older I’ve been able to better understand the significance of the developments they’ve made since the time they first caught my attention at the age of 11.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

Probably the fact that the secondary school I attended was further away from where I grew up, and still live, than the universities I’ve attended.