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Dr Penelope Plaza – University of Reading

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Dr Penelope Plaza

Name

Dr Penelope Plaza

CAREER PATH

Penelope is a Venezuelan architect, researcher and urban artivist. She holds a PhD from City University of London and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge.

She qualified as an Architect in 1997 at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela. Her Degree Project, a shelter for street children in La Pastora, was awarded an honourable mention. Following an internship at the Museum of Fine Arts of Caracas, she joined Larrañaga/Obadía Arquitectos in 1998, working on residential projects and competitions. Penelope left the firm in 2000 to work as an independent architect and arts manager, developing a successful career in interior and exhibition design, arts management and communications for cultural institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Caracas.

In 2004 she was awarded the Shell Centenary Scholarship to study an MPhil in Latin American Studies at the University of Cambridge; her dissertation analysed emblematic modern architecture built during the dictatorial regime of Marcos Pérez Jiménez in the 1950s. She returned to Venezuela in 2005 to work for The British Council as Arts Coordinator where she delivered an exciting programme of workshops and exhibitions on Design, Architecture, Visual Arts, Performing Arts and Music.

She left in 2008 to join the School of Architecture of Universidad Simón Bolívar as Lecturer on Theory and History of Architecture and on Visual Arts and Graphic Expression. That same year she co-founded Collectivox, a not-for-profit organisation focused on developing collaborative projects of small scale urban interventions with communities and young urban artists. She also became an active member of the urban artivism collective Ser Urbano.

She moved to London in 2012 to pursue a PhD in Cultural Policy and Management, for which she was awarded the City University of London Doctoral Studentship, completing her studies in 2016. She continued to manage Collectivox remotely as their Head of Strategy, Partnerships and Communications. In 2014 Collectivox became the local partner of The British Council to develop the two-year project Busca Tu Espacio funded by a generous grant from the European Union.

Penelope has a track record of research on the intersections between politics, culture, architecture and urban space, published in recognised peer-reviewed journals. She is co-founder of the Venezuela Research Network and a member of the Petrocultures Research Cluster at University of Alberta. Her extensive and international teaching intersects practice and theory, having taught at the Institute for Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship at Goldsmisths, Canterbury School of Architecture, Centre for Culture and the Creative Industries at City University of London, Faculty of Philosophy at Universidad de Concepción in Chile, and the School of Architecture at Universidad Simón Bolívar in Venezuela. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy since 2013.

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