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Lu Mirza


Lu Mirza

UCL Department of Geography

North West Wing Room G14

University College London

Gower Street London


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Lu Mirza is a design researcher with an interdisciplinary background spanning architectural and planning consultancy, regeneration project management, event and exhibition curation, and community organisation leadership.

In 2020-2021 she worked as Associate Director of the sustainability consultancy Resilience Brokers; trained members of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) on ‘Inclusive Co-design and Engagement’; and was jointly awarded the (RTPI) Royal Town Planning Institute’s President’s Special Award for Planning Achievement.

Prior to joining UCL, she co-authored 8 publications and initiated several multidisciplinary projects. These employed a range of spatial mapping, data science and qualitative research methods including ethnography, participatory action research workshops and collaborative design interventions.

In 2015, alongside her UCL MSc dissertation research, she managed all aspects of a 350 household ethnographic Post-Occupancy Review of High Density Mixed Tenure Housing. This research was commissioned by think tank Design For Homes and funded by developer Barratt Homes. Key findings were shared by Design For Homes with the GLA London Assembly Planning Committee (2015, March 17) and at industry conferences hosted by Urban Design London, Building Centre Trust, New London Architecture and Just Space network.

Lubaina had an itinerant upbringing in the Indian subcontinent and Middle East, and has lived in London since 2004. She is always up for travel, critical debate, and inter-disciplinary exploration.


London’s Small Sites Housing Policy: Meeting Local Authority Needs?


This PhD project explores how and why London’s municipalities are mobilising cultural, socio-political, and design innovations to build more affordable homes on small plots of leftover land. Specifically, I interrogate how the Mayor of London's 'Policy H2 (Small Sites)', and supporting guidance such as 'Design Code Module D' is being operationalised within a relational ecosystem of local authorities, built environment professionals and resident Londoners.


In several London boroughs, I will be comparing the processes and outcomes associated with recently built housing projects featured in the mayor's policy guidance as good practice examples, with newer case study sites where local authorities are still making complex site development decisions. The methodology will involve embedded and practice-based collaboration with local government officers, housing practitioners, non-traditional artisan builders, industry analysts, academic researchers, and local communities in formal and informal peer learning networks.


This research aims to advance understandings of policy learning and spatial governance, while exploring improving affordable housing outcomes through new delivery formats on complex infill sites. The thesis intends to make an interdisciplinary, comparative and empirical contribution to analysis of how this market-driven and ‘ungovernable’ city is spatially transformed through situated knowledges, circulating practices and intra-institutional policy learning at a rarely studied local level.

Supervision and funding

Professor Jennifer Robinson (UCL Geography); Associate Professor Dr Nikolaos Karadimitriou (UCL Bartlett School of Planning); UCL Research Opportunity Scholarship

Talks and papers

  • Unfinished Symphonies/London’s Small Sites Housing Policy. Presentation at Witswatersrand-UCL PhD workshop with Professor Achille Mbembe, UCL Urban Lab, 15 October 2021.
  • London’s Small Sites Housing Policy: Meeting Local Needs? Presentation at UCL Geography PhD Departmental Upgrade Conference, 16 June 2021.
  • Planning for Housing - the characteristics and consequences of an Emergency Urbanism. Presentation at 'Emergency' Research Students' Roundtable, UCL Urban Lab in collaboration with the Institute of Risk and Disaster Reduction, 17 December 2020.
  • How new cities are being designed around well-being, adaptability, and inclusivity - Ebbsfleet Garden City case study. Presentation at Wellbeing, COVID-19 and the Future of Workplaces seminar, UCL Bartlett IEDE (Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering) virtual lecture seminars, 06 November 2020.
  • New Frontiers In Planning Digitalisation and the Royal Town Planning Institute. Presentation at UCL Bartlett CASA (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis) seminar series, 18 November 2020.
  • Planning Careers Talk. Presentation to 300 incoming postgraduates and 60 undergraduates at the UCL Bartlett School of Planning, 26 September 2019.