School of Architecture, Planning & Landscape

Staff Profile

Dr Georgiana Varna

Lecturer in Planning and Urbanism


I am a multi-disciplinary scholar, working in between the realms of geography, urban planning, urban design, architecture, sociology, and urban policy. I am driven by my passion to find ways in which cities can be helped to restructure/regenerate and sometimes reinvent themselves, and by harnessing their creative energies, become more liveable, equal and better quality 21st century environments. In such an uncertain world, an unprecedented fast and far reaching urbanisation is shifting entire socio-cultural, georgraphical and political landscapes. Through my work I hope to help in our common effort of living better lives in our contemporary cities.

During my doctoral and post-doctoral research I focused particularly on issues related to urban public space, post-industrial urban regeneration, development actors and networks and Scottish urban policy. Currently I am interested in understanding how urban design intersects with the creative economy & the drive for innovation, especially in the creation of innovation quarters/districts. I am going to analyse this through a multifaceted theoretical framework that looks at the university campus and its innovation district through several perspectives: urban design and place-making; real estate development with a focus on networks; IOT & the 'smart' city and meaning/sense/use of place. I will be incorporating this within the broader debates on digital and sustainable urbanism, critically adressing the Smart City discourse. 

Since January 2013 until January 2017, I worked at the Scottish Cities Knowledge Centre, University of Glasgow, dedicated to improving the cities of Scotland through meaningful knowledge exchange between the academic community and policy makers. This was part of the Scottish Cities Alliance, formed by the Scottish Government and the leaders of the councils that represent the seven cities of Scotland Apart from Scotland, I also worked in Finland and Estonia, teaching, undertakin research, and working with policy makers. I am always open to start new conversations and collaborations with likeminded people so get in touch!


Between 2009 and 2016, I held research positions, however I love teaching and have taught a mixture of courses on public space, urban design and urban regeneration.

 University of Glasgow, Scotland

  • Global Cities, Urban Studies. College of Social Sciences. Lecture: Commodification and reclaiming of urban space in Europe. Masters Level. 2014 and 2015.
  • Public Policy, Urban Studies, College of Social Sciences. Tutorials. Level 1 and 2. 2008, 2009 and 2010
  • Changing Cities and Neighbourhoods, Urban Studies. College of Social Sciences. Tutorials. Masters level. 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Tampere University of Technology, Finland

  • The value of urban design. From city visions to placemaking, School of Architecture. Bachelor Level. 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016.

University of Turku, Turku, Finland

  • From the Greek Agora to Facebook: How public are our public places? (own course). Urban Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences and Baltic Sea Region Studies, Faculty of Humanities. Masters Level. 2011 and 2012.

Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA), Tallinn, Estonia

  •  From the Greek Agora to Facebook: How public are our public places? (own course) Masters Level. 2011 and 2012.

Invited lectures:

Glasgow School of Art, Scotland

  • Urban Public Space (lecture written and delivered in collaboration with late Dr Tiesdell). Masters Level. 2009. 

Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland 

  • Contemporary City Challenges and Urban Public Space, University of Helsinki Urban Studies Summer School, August 2015.

École Normale Superior, Paris, France

  • New Methodologies for Urban Public Space Research, to be delivered to the PhD community, Department of Geography, November 2015. 

University College of London, London, UK.

  • Measuring Public Space: The Star Model, lecture delivered for the MRes in Inter-disciplinary Urban Design at the Bartlett School of Planning, January 2016.

Currently, at SAPL, I am responsible for M1617-APL2002: APL2002:Alternative practice: European Fieldtrip. (16/17)