UCL Urban Laboratory


Fani Kostourou

Fani is an architect and urban designer. She studied architecture at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA), and holds a MAS in Urban Design from ETH Zürich and an MRes in Spatial Design: Architecture and Cities from The Bartlett, UCL London.

Fani's design work has featured in publications such as Minha Casa, Nossa Cidade: Innovating Mass Housing for Social Change in Brazil (Ruby Press, 2014) and group exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (2014-15), Columbia GSAPP's Studio-X in Rio (2013), Museu de Arte do Rio (2014), X São Paulo Biennale (2013) and 15th Venice Architecture Biennale (2016) among others.

Recently and as part of her studio teaching, she has co-edited two publications on E-merging Design Research (The Bartlett 2015, 2017). Currently, Fani is an EPSRC-funded doctoral student at The Bartlett School of Architecture, Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK), and Postgraduate Teaching Assistant at The Bartlett School of Architecture, and Development Planning Unit, UCL.

In April 2017, Fani joined the MIT Department of Architecture and Computation as a visiting PhD student.


Emergent Adaptations of Form and Transformations of Urban Space in 19th Century Mass Housing

Supervisors: Dr Sophia Psarra (primary), Dr Kayvan Karimi (secondary)

Upon building completion, housing value starts diminishing over time. If it fails to fulfil stakeholders' long-term needs, the building becomes obsolescent, facing either the cost of refurbishment or demolition. While some domestic types survive, others do not, being inflexible in socio-economic changes over time. This paper adds to this discussion by studying adaptability of space and form as a design characteristic that contributes to long-term viability of houses and cities. It addresses this topic by investigating -other things being equal- patterns of adaptation and their impact on the interface of the domestic built space with the urban open space in large-scale residential developments. While previous studies have looked at the topic of flexibility in housing, they have focused on interior space. In contrast, the present research investigates the relation between building volume and the urban context, using measures of visibility and movement from space syntax theory. 

Taking Cité Ouvrière as an example - a working-class housing scheme in Mulhouse (France)- the PhD investigates self-built typo-morphological transformations from the 1900s to 2000s. It first identifies types of morphological adaptations for different housing typologies in order to understand patterns of growth in time. Second, it studies the impact of this growth at different scales: the urban form and interface, the built density, and the socio-economic performance of the inhabitants. The third part consists of an exploration of theoretically possible adaptations given constraints of site for different built types. 

Effectively, the research seeks to discuss the topics of adaptability and sustainability of our built environment by looking at the performance of a standardised mass-housing scheme over time. Mass housing has been in the past and present widely used as a response to contemporary housing shortages around the globe. Hence, this research contributes to the existing knowledge in three points. First, it brings to the fore a rather overlooked housing scheme that has not been adequately featured in English language literature pertaining to the subject of adaptive housing, yet it has been exemplary for a number of reasons while serving as a model for many following European industrial housing schemes. Second, it integrates a number of methodologies from architecture, morphology and urban studies while considering issues of scale and time. Last, it helps develop a deeper understanding of how buildings change over time and the possible reasons behind their longterm sustainability.

Further links

Bartlett School of Architecture profile

Academia profile

Twitter @fani_ko