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Dr Marianna Marchesi MArch, MSc, PhD

Dr Marianna Marchesi

MArch, MSc, PhD

Lecturer in Architectural Design
Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

+44 (0)29 2087 0923
Room 3.05, Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a Lecturer in Architecture at the Welsh School of Architecture (Cardiff University, UK). I joined the School in 2018 as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow for the implementation of an EU-funded project on the transition to a circular economy in urban housing communities through the promotion of alternative production and consumption practices by social innovation.

My research and teaching interests focus on the implementation of sustainable development and a circular economy in cities by design to tackle global and local challenges around climate emergency. My research and teaching are supported by multidisciplinary background combined with a long-time architectural-practice experience as a registered architect in Italy and multi-year research and teaching experience in Italy and abroad on design research and sustainable architecture.

In 2016, I was awarded a PhD in Sustainable Energy and Technologies (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy) focused on design research in collaboration with MIT (Cambridge, USA) where I spent a year of study and research. I held a Master of Science in ClimateHouse (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano) in 2011, and a Master of Architecture (University of Ferrara, Italy) in 2001. For several years, I worked as a research and teaching assistant (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano and IUAV University) and as an architect collaborating in architecture firms and then leading my architecture practice in Italy.


02/09/2019 – present: Lecturer in Architecture in the Welsh School of Architecture (Cardiff University, UK), focused on the implementation of a circular economy in cities at the urban, architectural and detail levels by design.

01/06/2018 – present: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Welsh School of Architecture (Cardiff University, UK) focused on the implementation of an EU-funded project to foster the transition to a circular economy in social housing. It involved Clarion Housing Group (UK) and Arup Foresight (London, UK) in which I carried out a research secondment for knowledge exchange.

09/01/2015 – 31/05/2018: Return to my Architecture Practice in Padua, Italy.

31/01/2013 - 31/12/2013: Doctoral Visiting Researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, USA) - Department of Mechanical Engineering (Prof. Sang-Gook Kim) and Department of Architecture (Prof. John Fernandez).

09/01/2012 – 26/04/2016: PhD in Sustainable Energy and Technologies at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (FUB, Italy). Supervisors: Prof. Dominik Matt (FUB and Fraunhofer, Italy) and Prof. Sang-Gook Kim (MIT, USA). The doctoral study investigated through design research the application of an engineering design method (Axiomatic Design) to the design of mass-customised modular houses. The outcomes were published in journal articles and a Springer monograph.

01/02/2011 - 08/01/2012: Research Assistant and Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy). The research activity focused on topics related to the design of sustainable energy-efficiency buildings and refurbishments, modular construction and timber architecture.

08/01/2009 – 26/10/2010: Master of Science in CasaClima-KlimaHaus (Sustainable Building Design) at the Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy). Final mark: 110/110.

01/11/2006-31/01/2011: Launch of my Architecture Practice in Padua, Italy.

10/2004 – 06/2007: Teaching Assistant in Architectural Design at the IUAV University of Venice (Italy).

03/2002 – 10/2006: Collaborations as an architect and then, project architect in architecture firms in Italy.

01/2004: Registered architect at the Chamber of the Order of the Padua province.

02/2001: Master of Architecture, Department of Architecture, University of Ferrara (Italy). Final mark: 110/110 cum laude.

Honours and awards

10/2012: 3° Prize at the Solar Decathlon Europe 2012 Competition in a team with “MED in Italy” (a group of Italian Universities) and Rubner Haus S.p.A. (an Italian modular timber building company). It consisted of the design development of an innovative sustainable energy-efficient modular house, construction of a prototype and final testing

12/2010: Best Master-of-Science Thesis Prize 2010 awarded by Naturalia BAU Srl., an Italian green building supplier company. The thesis focused on the design of best practices for the energy-efficient refurbishment of existing multi-storey housing blocks. The study was published by BU Press with the Fraunhofer Italia Research’s sponsorship.





  • Marchesi, M., Tweed, C. and Gerber, D. 2019. Circular design for affordable, human-centred and zero-waste urban housing. Presented at: 19th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production (ERSCP 2019), Barcelona, Spain, 15-18 October 2019 Presented at Segalas, J. and Lazzarini, B. eds.Proceedings of the 19th European Roundtable for Sustainable Consumption and Production Circular Europe for Sustainability: Design, Production and Consumption. Book of abstracts. ERSCP 2019, Barcelona pp. 204.






  • Marchesi, M., Fernandez, J., Matt, D. and Kim, S. 2014. Axiomatic design approach for the conceptual design of sustainable buildings. Presented at: The 8th International Conference on Axiomatic Design, Lisbon, Portugal, 24-26 Sept 2014 Presented at Mourao, A. and Gonclaves-Coelho, A. eds.Proceedings of the Eigth International Conference on Axiomatic Design (ICAD 2014). Monte de Caparica, Portugal:
  • Marchesi, M. and Paradisi, I. 2014. The role of the customer in building design: a literature review. Presented at: 3rd International Workshop on Design in Civil and Environmental Engineering, Kongens Lyngby, Denmark, 22-23 Aug 2014 Presented at Jensen, L. B. and Thompson, M. K. eds.Proceedings of the 3rd International Workshop on Design in Civil and Environmental Engineering. pp. 129-136.
  • Erlacher, P. and Marchesi, M. 2014. Improving the energy efficiency of existing building envelope. In: Riso, V. ed. Modern Building Reuse: Documentation, Maintenance, Recovery and Renewal.. Universidade do Minho.: Escola de Arquitectura, pp. 121-137.



Teaching roles

  • Design Unit Leader in MA Architectural Design (2019-2020)
  • Design Unit Leader in BSc Architecture Year 3 (2020-2021)
  • Supervisor in Architectural Science Master (2020-2021)
  • Tutor in MArch Year 1, Research Preparation (2020-2021)
  • Co-chair in MArch Year 2 Dissertation Conference (2020-2021)

Teaching subjects

In the Design Units at the Bachelor and Master levels, students are involved to trace new paths towards sustainable futures in cities through the implementation of a circular economy by urban and architectural design. Students have rethought how neighborhoods, buildings, and components are designed, made, used, and recover to explore new sustainable ways of producing, consuming, and living. This approach aims to foster the optimal use of resources while promoting positive impacts on the environment, society, and economy. A transition to a circular economy in cities can play an important role in tackling climate change and promoting sustainable development.  

Research interests and expertise

My current research is focused on the implementation of circularity and resource efficiency in cities. My recent project is focused on exploring the contribution of social innovation to the transition to a circular economy in cities and the potential role of social housing communities.

My research is supported by expertise in the design of energy-efficient sustainable buildings and refurbishments, modular architecture and timber construction acquired by a multi-year experience as a researcher and a long-term activity as an accredited architect. My approach to design research is grounded on a doctoral degree in the field that has provided me with a structured methodological framework and research process.

Current research project

H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 – CircuBED: Applying the Circular Economy to the Design of Social Housing (Grant Agreement n. 793021)

This project explored how social housing communities can contribute to the transition to a circular economy (CE) in cities and how they can be engaged and empowered in envisioning possible scenarios for a circular community.

Resource efficiency in cities is connected to people behaviours, but until now, the CE has placed limited attention on social practices and behavioural change. On the other side, behavioural change for sustainable living shows being effectively encouraged through initiatives of social innovation (SI) that involve communities and groups of interest in alternative social practice.

Therefore, this study pointed at understanding the phenomenon of SI on resource efficiency and circularity in cities to define the potential contribution of social housing communities. Through case study analysis, the project provided an overview of contemporary SI initiatives implemented by urban communities and groups of interest among citizens aiming at promoting alternative production and consumption practices. The developed database was categorized from theoretical knowledge and empirical analysis supporting the identification of seven types of SI for resource circularity. Based on this typology, the study defined potential opportunities for social housing communities as well as benefits and challenges. The findings also identified a complementary role that SI can play in the CE implementation in cities. Therefore, the project suggested the introduction of emerging SI concepts into the current CE approach to support the development of opportunities.

Based on these results, the study is exploring the ability of playful practices to engage residential communities, promote bottom-up knowledge and support collaborative discovery on how to contribute to a CE. A game design concept for a serious application on SI for a CE will be also outlined. Finally, preliminary recommendations regarding support strategies and measures to be implemented in policymaking for facilitating emerging SI initiatives in the field will be formulated.

Project webpage at

Research funding

03/2020 - Global Challenges Research Fund – Facilitator Grant 2019 awarded by Cardiff University - GCRF; Award value: £ 6940; duration: 2 months; % Ownership: 33,3%.

06/2018-12/2021 - H2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship 2017 - CircuBED: Applying the Circular Economy to the Design of Social Housing- Grant Agreement n. 793021; Award value: € 195,454.80. Supervisors: Prof. C. Tweed (Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University), Dr D. Gerber (ARUP Foresight, London).

05/2017 - SCoRE Cymru Grant from the Welsh European Funding Office (UK) to support the development of an H2020 research application on the implementation of a circular economy in the built environment.


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Climate change
  • Circular economy
  • Resource efficiency and circularity
  • Urban metabolism
  • Urban resilience
  • Urban sustainability
  • Social innovation for sustainability
  • Behavioural change