Federica Buricco is an Associate at global architecture practice CallisonRTKL.
Federica has expertise within mixed-use, masterplanning, and urban design regeneration projects across London, Italy and Switzerland with a key eye for design innovation and sustainability.
She has over 13 years’ experience in the design and management of large-scale residential, commercial and hotel developments and is passionate about repurposing underutilised buildings as strategy to reducing the amount of waste that is put into landfills and the use of virgin materials that are linked to disruptive demolition and reconstruction works.
We chatted to her about her experience in the industry and what her furture plans hold.
What is your earliest memory of design and architecture?
“I grew up in Italy surrounded by masterpieces from the great architects of the past. I still remember the effect the opening of the Louvre Pyramid designed by the Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei, had on me. I was just a pre-adolescent, and the adults around me expressed a lot of perplexities regarding its relationship with the context, while I was fascinating by the braveness of the design gesture.”
Where did you study?
“I studied architecture at Polytechnic of Milan University, which specialises in engineering, architecture and design. Following this I worked at a number of firms in Italy, Switzerland and in the UK, designing large-scale residential, commercial, hotel and mixed-use projects across Europe, the UK and as far as the MENA regions.”
What kind of architect did you aspire to be?
“I want to make a positive social impact on existing communities or creating new ones. The power of transforming and regenerating is important to me. We should care more about the environment, be actively involved with communities and appreciate the impact of well-designed spaces on people’s wellbeing.”
Who/where are your design/architecture inspirations?
“I take inspiration from Jan Ghel, the architect and urban design consultant based in Copenhagen, whose career has focused on improving the quality of urban life using a people-centric approach. I also admire the work of Alejandro Aravena, a Chilean architect known for his socially conscious building projects that attempt to break down economic inequality in urban areas.”
What does CallisonRTKL represent as an architecture firm?
“Working for global practice, CRTKL is a great fit for me personally because our ethos is all about the power of making a positive design impact, whether that be for people and our planet.”
How do you continue to carve your own path in the industry as a studio and an individual?
“I am constantly in search of designing ‘what is right’ for a project. There are many elements to consider in creating a sense of place – but you have to identify the most special characteristics of a site as your starting point. I believe that every place has a genius loci, a spirit, and if we are able to listen carefully it can tell us in which direction he wants to evolve.”
Where is the majority of your work based?
“At CRTKL I specialise in designing masterplans and mixed-use schemes across the UK, Europe and the Middle East, often transforming under-utilised sites into vibrant new activity hubs.”
What has been your biggest design commission to date?
“I have been involved in shaping the urban regeneration program for the historic town of Ventimiglia, in Italy. The aim is to transform part of the waterfront into a dynamic, vibrant destination with its own authentic neighbourhood character and unique identity, hinged on the natural and cultural assets of the old town and the Riviera region, with community-based participation and net-zero principles at its heart. This is as an initiative that, with 150 million in private investment that expected to generate a return of over half a billion euros and up to 500 new jobs.
“In the UK, I am also a key designer for an up-and-coming masterplan scheme that will transform an industrial area into a modern mixed-use neighbourhood targeting a young, vibrant and diverse workforce with lifestyle choices built around wellness and sustainability. At the moment, we cannot say much more on this confidential project, but it is something that I am proud to be a part of.
What does the face of architecture look like to you in 10 year’s time?
“Over the next 10 years I believe that the environment will be even more crucial to design. The environment will come front and centre in all future decisions, together with the socio-economic impact of the projects. No project will be approved if it can’t prove that it can ‘do good.’ I also think we will see less new buildings and more creative ways to repurpose underutilised assets.”
If you hadn’t become an architect what would you be doing?
“When I was younger, I had an interest in philosophy and biology, but the truth is that I would be probably in another design-related field. I really enjoy the creative process the most and being able to collaborate and contribute in bringing an idea from concept stage to realisation, at any scale.”