As Residential lead for London, Michela specialises in complex, large-scale, mixed-use projects in the capital, with a new-found focus on Passivhaus and sustainability.
Her passion and experience gained in the Residential sector, working as an architect and on the developer side, enables her to bring learning across sectors including Build to Rent and Student Living.
What is your favourite project you’ve worked on to date?
Over the years, I’ve worked in a number of sectors, but about ten years ago I led my first residential-led, mixed-use regeneration development in Finsbury Park. That is when I discovered my passion for residential schemes. In London, site constraints, mixes of use and transport adjacencies all come into play, creating challenging architectural and construction environments.
I’ve since focused my career on residential work and spent two years working as a Senior Design and Technical Manager for a developer. This experience gave me insight into value management, procurement and tendering processes as well as the skills necessary to negotiate with a broad array of stakeholders across the built environment industry.
What is the current trend in your sector?
In the past few years, the residential sector – particularly in London – has been focusing on developing and consolidating Build to Rent (BTR). The branding and specific offer of each individual BTR provider are still been tested in the market and will continue developing in the coming years to find their full identity.
Interestingly, during the pandemic, the wider residential sector has looked at the BTR offering as a way of improving for-sale apartments by creating enjoyable and adaptable spaces which offer more than just the private residential accommodation.
What are the key challenges that affect your sector, or are likely to in the next five years?
In residential, it has to be the quantity of housing that needs to be delivered, which is just not achievable with traditional construction methods. The main developers and contractors are looking at modular, panelised and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) in general to deliver high-quality housing quickly and efficiently. This will affect the way we design and detail our buildings.
I have been lucky to gain in-depth experience delivering schemes using MMC over the years implementing technologies from precast concrete, CLT, glulam and SIPs to full volumetric and panelised systems.
Do you think London will be able to achieve its target of Net Zero Carbon by 2030?
It is an ambitious target but I think it has focused the industry’s attention on the sustainable agenda. In London particularly, the construction industry has given life to a series of initiatives to promote and achieve sustainability and net-zero carbon. The challenge is for all sectors within the construction industry to work in close collaboration and focus on staff training to improve technical competency, sharing knowledge with a wider audience, investing in R&D and developing standardised solutions to make zero carbon viable and the new construction standard.
Being passionate about sustainability, I joined the Passivhaus Trust and achieved Passivhaus Designer qualification, to enable me to champion fabric first and net-zero carbon design.
Best building in your city?
I love London, my adoptive city. It’s a real playground for architects. My favourite building would have to be Piano’s Shard which has already become a striking and recognizable symbol of London, drawing focus to the Southbank.
Biggest career influence?
I consider myself very fortunate as I’ve been surrounded by many talented and inspiring people during the years; from my fellow students at the I.U.A.V. University of Venice, to my architect friends in Norway and my colleagues, from a variety of nationalities, in UK. This mix of people from different parts of the world enriches and inspires me.