Giulio Verdini

Giulio Verdini

I am Reader in Urban Planning at the School of Architecture and Cities of the University of Westminster, and Visiting Professor at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, in Morocco. I was previously Assistant and then Associate Professor in Urban Planning and Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, China (2010-2016), and founding Co-Director of the XJTLU Research Institute of Urbanisation; Visiting Scholar at the Centre d'Etudes sur la Chine Moderne et Contemporaine in Paris, EHESS (2013); Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Urban Theory, Universidad de la Republica in Uruguay (2005).

My research explores pathways of sustainable territorial development primarily in the context of fast urbanising countries, with a focus on cultural sustainability and social innovation. My main publications are ‘Urban China’s Rural Fringe’ (2016), Culture and Rural-Urban Revitalization in South Africa (2021, with Sirayi & Kanyane), and Management Planning for Cultural Heritage (2022, with Taylor). 

I regularly serve as expert for international organisations, charities and NGOs such as UNESCO, WHITRAP, UN-HABITAT, UfM - Union for the Mediterranean, UNWTO, ICOMOS, The Prince's Foundation. I was one of the lead contributors of the UNESCO Global Report ‘Culture for Sustainable Urban Development (2016) and principal investigator of the UNESCO Report Culture 2030, Rural-Urban Development. China at a glance' (2019). I am an affiliate of the UN-HABITAT Planners for Climate Action Initiative; and academic advisory member of the Transport and Urban Development Sector of UfM.

Over the years, I combined my research activity with international consultancy. I hold a BA/MA in Architecture (Spec. Urban Planning), and a PhD (2007) in Economics, Urban and Regional Development, from the University of Ferrara in Italy.

I have an underlying theoretical interest in the notion of centre-periphery in planning and policy, and contested ideas of development, especially in countries undergoing rapid urban transformations. This materialises in research on territorial and social fragility, urban-rural interfaces, marginal historic areas. I explore ways to enable sustainable, climate-resilient and inclusive transition of places, by adopting innovative methodologies such as foresight, scenario planning and community co-design. I led participatory design workshops and knowledge exchanges in Europe, China, and North Africa. At Westminster, I am the Co-Convener of the ‘Emerging Territories’ Research Group of the School of Architecture & Cities, member of Homelands (Hub on Migration, Exile, Languages and Spaces), and the Contemporary China Center. I am the liaison person between UoW and London Boroughs - Southwark Initiative on Resilient & Green London.


- Spatial characteristics and planning strategy of urban-rural integration development (Foreign Expert Introduction Programme, Ministry of Science and Technology of China, led by Tongji University, CI, 2022 - ongoing);

- Enhancing student readiness for Climate and Health Projects in the Built Environment (UoW, Quintin Hogg Trust, CI, 2022);

- Globally-informed City Climate Pedagogy & Practice (UoW SCUE, PI, 2019 - ongoing), with follow up funding for knowledge-exchange 'ILAUD Figuig Climate Studio(Municipality of Figuig, Morocco, 2022);

- Culture and Urban-Rural Linkages (UNESCO, Consultant, 2016/19);

- Creative Rural Towns - The case of Calabria (NGO Accademia di Gagliato, PI, 2016/19);

- Interdisciplinarity in Urban Studies - WG3 member (EU COST Action INTREPID, 2015/19);

- Urban Fringe Planning and Institutions (Jiangsu Department of Education, PI, 2014/16);

- Open-Space Non-Market Value (Suzhou Social Science Philosophy Foundation, PI, 2011);

- TESS, Intensive Programme in Territorial Empowerment and Social Sustainability (EU Lifelong Learning Programme, Member, 2011/14);

- Chinese Clustering in Southern Europe (XJTLU Research Fund, PI, 2010/12);

- Alfa Programme EU- Latin America Cooperation Visiting PhD Fellowship (2005);


I am the vice-President of ILAUD, the International Laboratory of Architecture and Urban Design; Co-coordinator of the AESOP TG Global South/East;  Member of the International Scientific Committee of the biennial Conference 'Heritage of China' SUST-XJTLU (since 2016); Editor of the Routledge Book Series Planning, Heritage and Sustainability', and Book Review Editor of 'Built Heritage'. I act as peer reviewer for Town Planning Review, Cities, Journal of Rural Studies, Landscape Research, International Planning Studies, International Journal of Heritage Studies, Regional Studies, and others. I regularly serve as Expert Evaluator for the Research Executive Agency of the European Commission, and the Italian Ministry of University and Research. I have been PhD external examiner in the field of architecture and urban studies at Polytechnic University of Milan, University of Sassari, The Australian National University, University of Liverpool (XJTLU). 

I have disseminated my research in a number of high-level international gatherings, as: Invited Speaker at GPEAN-UNI event at WUF 11, the UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum, 2022; Chair of the parallel session ‘Climate Justice in Urban Pedagogy & Practice', I4C IPCC /UN-HABITAT /GCoM, (Virtual, Wordlwide), 2021; Keynote Speaker at the Symposium ‘Culture for Sustainable Rural-Urban Development’, Tshwane University of Technology and SALGA (South African Local Government Association), Pretoria, South Africa, 2019; Invited Speaker at the Smart City Forum in Casablanca, Morocco, 2019; Principal Scientific advisor, Keynote Speaker, and Rapporteur for the final plenary session, at the International UNESCO Conference 'Culture 2030 Rural-Urban Development', Meishan, China, 2019; Invited panelist at the XII Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in Katowice, Poland, 2018; Invited speaker at the Second UNESCO Creative Cities Summit in Beijing, China, 2016; Co-Chair of the International Seminar on ‘Small settlements and the cultural dimension of urbanization’, at Cité de l' Architecture et du Patrimoine, Paris, 2016; Chair of the plenary session ‘Researcher’s Forum’ at the UNESCO Conference ‘Culture for Sustainable Development’, Hangzhou, China, 2015; Co-chair of the Russel Group China Workshop on ‘Sustainable Cities, in Suzhou, China, 2015.


Anna Yu Guo, Urban governance in China, University of Liverpool (DoS, 2014 - 2016, MPhil); Sabina Cioboata, Wellbeing in urban China, UoW (DoS, 2017-2022); Hocine Aouchal, HUL in Algeria, University of Annaba (Co-Dos, 2017); Mengran Zhu, Culture-led urban regeneration in China, UoW (DoS, 2018); Shengkang Fu, Place making in Chinese cities, UoW (DoS, 2020); Alain Chiaradia, Urban Form and Travel Patterns, UoW (Co-DoS, 2020); Xiao Ma, London Chinatown, UoW (Co-DoS, 2020).


Best paper award at the 5th International Forum on Urbanism (IFoU) in Singapore (2011) and Second Prize of Outstanding Research Paper Award, 8th Academic Conference on Social Science of Suzhou, China (2015). The participatory design workshop organised in Shuang Wan Cun, Wujiang District, has been shortlisted as finalist for the '2015 Asian Townscape Award' of UN-HABITAT, Asia and the Pacific Office, and later on selected as best practice of implementation of the UNESCO HUL Approach.

  • Contemporary China Centre
  • Homelands
  • Emerging Territories

Sustainable Development Goals
In brief

Research areas

Global South Urbanism; International Development & Planning; Climate Urbanism; Education for Sustainable Development. Sub-areas: Urban-Rural Linkages; Urban Heritage and Historic Urban Landscape; Community Engagement.

Skills / expertise

Strategic Planning; Scenario Planning; Urban Governance; Planning for local development; Community co-design methods.

Supervision interests

Global South Urbanism; International Development & Planning; Climate Urbanism. Geographic areas: China, Middle East and North Africa, and more generally Global South.