Professor Alessandro Melis
Professor of Architecture and Innovation
I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2016. My specialist teaching, supervisory and research interests are in the fields of climate sensitive design, sustainable strategies for urban mutations, environmental policies, radical theories and criticism, resilience, and sustainable conservation. Previously, at the University of Auckland, I was the head of the technology area and director of the Postgraduate engagement (school of Architecture and Planning). I have been a guest professor in Austria (die Angewandte Vienna) and Germany (Anhalt University Dessau). I hold a PhD in Architecture Design (University of Florence). I have been honorary fellow at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and a keynote speaker at the China Academy of Art, at the MoMA New York and at the Venice Biennale. I have written books and articles published in Europe, New Zealand and USA. In 1996 I founded Heliopolis 21, an architecture and urban design firm based in Italy and Germany (Berlin). H21 received several awards and carried out design projects in partnership with world class architects such as Coop Himmelblau, Greg Lynn Form, Diener & Diener, and Asymptote. My projects have been widely published in international magazines including GA Documents. In 2019 I have been appointed by the italian Minister of Cultural Heritage (MIBAC) as curator of the Italian Pavilion at the Architecture Venice Biennale 2020.
My main research interest is in the field of climate sensitive design: we need to rethink the urban fabric and its relationship with the troposphere in order to transform the cities in virtuous open systems reacting to the climate change. Moreover a radical spatial re-configuration of the built environment can offer opportunities for the positive development/ transformation of the current energy intensive metabolism into power generation as well as for the conceptualization of a revolutionary design. No longer will architecture define an object, a unique and recognizable item, but will entail hybrid landscapes generated by specific variations of the urban continuum, also involving autopoietic processes aimed to the adaptation to extreme environmental conditions (flooding, desertification etc.). Hence, a heteronomous approach to architecture, new techniques of representation, smart technologies and the use of advanced digital tools will become essential to the development of a discipline focusing on the future scenarios analysis.