Dr Laura Ferrarello


  • Laura Ferrarello
  • Area

    School of Design


    MRes Design Pathway Leader

  • Senior Tutor

  • Dr Laura Ferrarello is a designer, architect and researcher. Through design and theory her work investigates the dynamics and complex duality between the digital and physical environment, by means of the information iboth domains generate and exchange. She is a Visiting Lecturer on the Innovation Design Engineering in the School of Design at the Royal College of Art, where she leads the Experimental Design (EXP) strand. 

  • Biography

  • Before joining the RCA Laura worked between architecture and design in a different range of projects. From 2011 to 2013 Laura was a leader designer at Atelier Manferdini in Venice, California. Projects included Tempera the MOCA pavilion for the Getty Center show A New Sculpturism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California; the Waves lamp exhibited at the 2012 Fiera del Mobile in Milan; Secret Gardens, a fashion collection exhibited at the A+D gallery in Los Angeles; Bianca, the 60 meters cruise boat in the lake Biwa, Japan; and the design of the monograph Elena Manferdini: The Domain of Drawings published by EqualBooks, South Korea.

    In 2010 Laura completed her PhD in Architectural Design at IUAV (Istituto Universitario Architettura Venezia) with a thesis that explored architecture and urban space as a medium, and language, for political propaganda. The title of the thesis is “Geometria come Strumento di Invenzione. Il Concorso del Palazzo del Littorio dei Sette di ‘Quadrante’”. Laura holds an MA (Distinction) in Architectural and Urban Studies from the University of Brighton, and attended the MArch2 programme at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc). Her thesis La Città della Musica nel Castello di Lombardia a Enna received the Rotary Award in 2007.

    In 2004 Laura was awarded the second prize at the 6th São Paulo Biennale, Living the Cities under professor Franco Purini's design studio. In 2006 Laura was one of the designers of the utopian city VEMA, theme of the 1st Padiglione Italiano curated by Professor Purini for the 10th Venice Architectural Biennale Cities. Architecture and Society, curated by Ricky Burdett. 

    Laura has exhibited her work in Politecnico di Bari Italy (2009/2014), Wroclaw, Poland (2013), Gdynia, Poland (2013), Sci-Arc (2011), Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, USA (2011), Wuho Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (2010), Brighton, UK (2009), Ischia, Italy (2007), São Paulo (2004), and Camerino, Italy (2004).

    Laura regularly presents research in international conferences. Her work is part of the ACADIA (Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture) International Conference at the University of Michigan Taubman College, Ann Arbor (2016), Shaping Cities – LSE City UN Habitat conference at the Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2016), Responsive Cities at IAAC (Institute of Advanced Architecture in Catalonia), Barcelona (2016), Tangible Means at Design School, Kolding (2015), DADA International Conference Digital Factory, Shanghai (2015), NextMuseum, Geneva (2015), Ege University of Cultural Studies (2015), Theatre and Stratification, FIRT/IFTR World Congress University of Warwick (2014), University of Warwick (2014), Chelsea College of Art (2014), UCL (2012), University of Lincoln (2010-2012), Saint Petersburg (2011), University of Southern California (2011-2010), Architectural Association (2009), CAPPE (Centre for  Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics) Centre University of Brighton (2009).

    Show more
  • Practice

  • Through theory and design Laura’s practice speculates about the topic of the city. Her work looks at perfomative techniques that engage citizens in the collaborative administration of the city. She published the essay ‘The Ecology of Public Spaces’ in the book The Pursuit of Legible Policies. Encouraging Agency and Participation in the Complex Systems of the Contemporary Megalopolis. Laura’s work explores also the materiality of digital/physical reality by looking at dynamic human-machine design processes interfaced by the oxymoron. On the topic in 2017 she will be publishing a chapter ‘The Oxymoron of Touch: The Tactile Perception of Hybrid Reality through Material Feedback’ in the book Digital Bodies; the research has been (will be) presented the ACADIA, Michigan Taubman College, Ann Arbor, at the International Conference Tangible Means: Experiential Knowledge through Materials, in Kolding and at Shanghai Tongji University. She is currently working on a jewellery set that explores the dichotomy between digital depth and physical flatness.

    As previously mentioned Laura’s work - like Luoghi di Incontro (2014), Ricordare (2013) and Cartoline da Ischia (2007) – looks at citizen engagement techniques at the scale of the city and the object. Under this lens space is understood as a series of performing actions that enable people’s wonder, imagination and sense of the opposite. The act of performance is embedded in the modeling process and intends to unfold the viewer’s sense of unfamiliar, which is revealed by participating in the process of making.

    Laura developed her design approach through experimenting with practice. For instance the 2004 Matrix employs residential units as media that dynamically “assemble” and shape urban space; the design graduation thesis La Città della Musica nel Castello di Lombardia looks at the castle existing geometry as trigger of new spatial performance; the MA thesis - iBus. Navigating the City through Buses - observes the emerging trend of understanding urban space through digital interfaces, which makes digital infrastructure overlap the physical one. In 2010 Laura exhibited at the Who Gallery in Los Angeles with the installation 13.3 is a small size in Architecture. In 2011 she exhibited at the Pacific Center in Los Angeles with the project Take your Time; in 2011 her design project was selected for the Sci-Arc Spring show.

    At the RCA Laura participates in research projects with the School of Design and Communication (Lloyds Register Foundation, Huawei, Absolut Vodka, Sonar +D, Science Museum). In 2015 she co-organised the AcrossRCA workshop Metalondoners, which employed Twitter as a platform that performs characters moulded around the live events happening through the streets of London. In 2014 she co-ran a workshop for MuseumNext in Geneva. 

    Show more
  • External collaborations

  • Laura collaborates with jewellery designers and 3D printer manufacturer based in China. She is part of the Knowledge Exchange & Innovation research. She worked on the RCA- Huawei partnership that saw the collaboration between School of Design and School of Communication. She is currently coordinating the Lloyds Register Foundation research project “Grand Challenge”  from School of Design. Laura was project manager in the Information Experience Design (IED) collaboration with Absolut Vodka ES and Sonar +D. She worked with Future City Catapult, Superflux and Laboratorio para la Ciutad in a research project - Legible Policies. Mobility and Megalopolis - between London and Mexico City, which was supported by the British Council, IIMAS-UNAM, CONACyT. In 2008 Laura designed the Beijing Architectural Biennale (im)material processes, new digital techniques in architecture catalogues (student and professional). In 2006 she was part of the design team of Vema, the utopian city theme of the Padiglione Italiano curated by Franco Purini, which was part of the  10th Venice Biennale City, Architecture and Society curated by Richard Burdett.

    Laura leads workshops on citizen engagement and urban experience. The Sound of Copenhagen was a workshop she organised for the 2016 Rice University Summer School in Copenhagen.  @metalondoners is the AcrossRCA workshop based on Twitter data, theatrical performances and the city. Exquisite Space is the workshop co-organised for MuseumNext 2015, which looks at performative techniques  inspired by the Situationist and Surrealist movements. At the Information Experience Design Laura led the research Digital Impressionism, which used real time data as modeling technique. At the Royal College of Art Laura collaborated with RCA RapidForm and Fashion.
    Show more
  • Publications, exhibitions and other outcomes

  • Selected Publications

    Ferrarello L. (2017) The Oxymoron of Touch: The Tactile Perception of Hybrid Reality through Material Feedbacks In: Broadhurst, S.and Price, S. (eds.) Digital Bodies. Palgrave Studies in Performance and Technology. Palgrave Macmillian, Springer Nature, London, pp. 129–143.

    Ferrarello L. (2016) 'The Ecology of Legible Space' In: Pipkin, L. (ed.) The Pursuit of Legible Policy: Agency and Participation in the Complex Systems of the Contemporary Megalopolis. Grey Cities, Green Infrastructure . Buró Buró Oficina de proyectos culturales, Mexico City, pp. 73–79.

    Ferrarello L. (2016) 'The Tectonics of the Hybrid: Data Manipulation, Oxymoron Materiality and Creative Human-Machine Collaboration' in: 'Oxymoron Tectonics', Alquist S., del Campo M., Grandifield K., Velikov K., (eds), Posthuman Frontiers: Data, Designers and Cognitive Machinesproceeding of the ACADIA conferrence, University of Michigan Taubman College, Ann Arbor, USA. (forthcoming).

    Ferrarello L. Kedia S., (2016) 'Limes. A Design Platform for Urban Responsive behavior', in: Responsive Cities: proceeding of IAAC KAUU-EU International Conference, Barcelona.

    Ferrarello L. (2016) 'The Ecology of Public Spaces' in: Gomez-Mont (ed), The Pursuit of Legible Policy: Encouraging Agency and Participation inthe Complex Systems of the Contemporary Megalopolis, Mexico City: Buró- Buró

    Ferrarello L. Walker K. (2016) 'The Form of Sound Through Hybrid Materials' in: Proceedingof SIGGRAPH 16 ACM SIGGRAPH 2016 Posters, Article n. 87,

    Ferrarello, L. 2016 'The oxymoron of touch: Tactile perception of hybrid reality through material feedback' in:  Broadhurst, S. and Price S. (eds), Digital Bodies: Creativity and Technology in the Arts and Humanities, London, New York, Shanghai: Palgrave Macmillian, in press.

    Ferrarello L., Pecirno M., Spanou K. (2015) ‘Digital Impressionism’, in: Digital Factory: proceeding of DADA International Conference on Digital Architecture conference , ed X. Weiguo, H. Weixin, Shanghai, pp. 361–370.

    Ferrarello L., Fairbrother W. (2016) 'Process of Artefact Creation in Hybrid Reality. Engaging with Materials through Material Oxymorons', Arteficts. (forthcoming)

    Ferrarello L., (2012) ‘Contemporary Kingdoms. ‘The Twitter Wikipedia Map’, proceeding of 'Theoretical Currents II: Architecture and its Geographic Horizons' conference, available from University of Lincoln website.

    Ferrarello L. (2011) ‘Made in Italy; a design label as a national identity’, proceeding of 'Theoretical Currents: Architecture, Design and the Nation' conference, ed sR. Quek, Deane D., Nottingham, pp. 250–260.

    Ferrarello, L. (2011) 'Back to Reality. Architecture in the World of Fantasy', Ultima Thule: Journal of Architectural Imagination, Vol 1, No 1.

    Ferrarello, L. (2011) 'A Greenish Glow in Venice'  in: Compasses (14), pp. 122–123.

    Ferrarello, L. (2010) 'The Emergent form of architecture. A conversation with Michael Weinstock', in: Compasses (24), pp. 144–147.

    Ferrarello, L. (2009) 'iBus: Navigating the City through Buses' in: DesignCETLD Newsletter

    Ferrarello, L. (2007) 'La città della musica nel castello di Lombardia' in: Enna Provincia (Year X, 6), p. 32.

    Ferrarello, L., Menegatti, F., Nencini, D., Batach, C., Cancellieri, A., Console, A., Lucchetti, G., Sabuzi, Giuliani, M., Satriano, F., 'Identità Enigmatiche' in: Purini, F. and Nencini, D. (eds) (2007) Generazioni, Roma: Gangemi Editore, p. 291.

    Design Publications

    Ferrarello L., in Leach N. (2016), 'Informal Cities', Architectural Design, 85/6 November/December 2015, pp. 64–69.

    Ferrarello, L. (2016) in: Leach, N., 'Informal Cities' in: Architectural Design 

    Ferrarello, L. (2015) 'National Literary Trust & Wild Art: Books About Town' Aestetica Magazine, July.

    Ferrarello, L. (2007) 'Cartoline da Ischiain: De Siano, G. (ed) Napoli: Expressioni 2007// Collettiva Arte e Giovani, p. 23.

    Ferrarello, L,. Altobelli, N., Sabuzi Giuliani, M., Satriano, F., Stabili, C., Zuliani, G. (2007) 'Progetto per il Lungomare di Fregene' in: AAVV, Il Collana concorsi, Rome: Prospettive, pp. 61–106.

    Ferrarello, L. (in collaboration with Menegatti, F.) (2006) 'La Fondazione di VEMA' in: Purini, F., Marzot, M., Sacchi, L., La città nuova italia y- 26, La Biennale di Venezia, 2006, Venezia: Marsilio, pp. 46, 51, 57, 60.

    Ferrarello, L. (in collaboration with Menegatti, F.) (2006) Pantelleria: The Tourist port, 10. Biennale di Venezia, Le Città di Pietra, Marsilio Venezia. p. 140.

    Ferrarello, L., Brugia, M., Calvano, M., Ciriachi, M., Lucchetti, G., Malizia, G., Sbardelli, G., Scarpantoni, F., Trasolini, L. (2005) 'Matrix: La Matrice Residenziale' in: AAVV, Interni Urbani, Architettura, La Spezia Agorà Edizioni, pp. 191–194.

    Ferrarello, L., Brugia, M., Calvano, M., Ciriachi, M., Lucchetti, G., Malizia, G., Sbardelli, G., Scarpantoni, F., Trasolini, L. (2004) 'Matrix: La Matrice Residenziale' in: Cury, P. and Belleza, G. (ed), 6th Săo Paulo International Biennial of Architecture and Design, Living the Cities, Fundaçẫo Bienal de Sẫo Paulo

    Ferrarello, L. (2001) in: Costanzo, M. (ed)Residenza Extraurbana per Artista, Roma: Palombi Editore, pp. 20–21.

    Selected Exhibitions


    Digital Impressionism, RCA Final Show, London 


    Luoghi di Incontro, Palazzo Ferrara, Bari, Italy


    Aedo, Border Body, Academy of Art and Design, Wroclaw, Poland

    Ricordare, BorderBody, Mixing Cities and Identities – Poland

    Vucciria 2.0  Fatti Conoscere into a Cube, Catania, Italy


    Take your own time, for Timeless, Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles

    Modulated Displacement, for Emerging Professional, Long Beach City College

    Peack and Poly , Spring Show, Sci-arc, Los Angeles


    13.3 is an uncomfortable number in architecture, 13.3%, WUHO Space, Woodbury University


    Veniceland, Fondazione Claudio Buziol, Venezia

    iBus: navigating the city through buses, Sallis Benney, University of Brighton


    Un Racconto exhibited in Come si fa una tesi di laurea, Politecnico University of Bari, group exhibition curated by Francesco Moschini 

    Show more
  • Awards and Grants

  • (2013) Mention, Vita Apparente, London International Creative Competition. The Mention is an award for an art work competition.

    (2011) Continuing Student Scholarship, Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-Arc), Los Angeles. The scholarship awarded Laura’s student progresses during the first year at Sci-Arc

    (2010) Merit Scholarship, Southern California Institute of Architecture, Los Angeles. The scholarship recognised Laura’s career as designer and architect.

    (2009) Distinction, MA Thesis, Fascism: the Theatre of the Masses. Award for the quality of work achieved at the University of Brighton.

Selected work


Research interests

Laura’s work explores the complexity of digital and real space (hybrid space) under the lenses of body performances and theatrical representation. Space is the place of anyone’s identity, whose shape is informed by the individual perception of the surrounding.  

Current and recent research


Data Materiality (2015- current): the research project explores the territory of hybrid materiality, i.e. composite materials that combine digital and physical information. By modelling 3D scanned physical objects with real time data digital reality can learn physical behaviour and implement it; materials learn from the digital and physical world in the same act of modelling.

Oxymoron in Design (2014- current): In literature the oxymoron is a 'figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction'. I use the concept of the oxymoron as a design methodology for 3D modelling, which interfaces the human perception of materiality between the digital and physical reality. Humans have an embodied knowledge of physical materials, which comes from experience. Nonetheless the act of digital 3D modelling implements and changes such knowledge with something unexpected.  A new materiality takes shape and it is (in)formed by the tectonic of the physical and digital altogether, i.e. oxymoron tectonics.

Research Areas

The legacy of Contemporary Public Space in the Age of Information (2012- current): the form of digital space is made of the data we exchange through digital infrastructures. Such a framework modifies our perception of physical space to the extent that it is understood as a projection of the digital one. It then follows that social behaviour in physical space gets shaped under the influence and rules of digital space. Can physical space still influence social behaviour? What is the legacy of real space?

Space as Performance (2008 – current): this research has been developed in relation to Laura’s MA and PhD research, which both looked at space as a theatrical scenario under the influence of Fascist propaganda in Italy. According to Nobel playwright Luigi Pirandello, theatre is the representation of life. It stages the everyday through characters that perform particular social behaviours. However urban space is something more complex. It does not only stage every man’s everyday; space might embody political power under the form of infrastructure and buildings. Fascism, indeed, exploits the natural theatrical essence of urban and public space for its propaganda. Laura’s research looks at physical and immaterial representational means whose aesthetic is conveyor of hidden 'universal' messages of territorial sovereignty.

The Perception of Space (2008 – current): with the emergence of GPS digital interfaces the form of urban space redefines its parameters in relation to human perception. The perception of space is indeed at stake because of private global corporations, like Google, that has almost reached the monopoly of digital map language and representation. We move in space through displays that suggest preferred routes; data and algorithms drive us through a ‘filtered’ space based on the data we share. Under these terms the right to the city becomes a precious commodity, almost inaccessible because of the way common space is accessed. How can citizen be engaged with contemporary urban strategies through the use of technology?