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Improving people's lives in Venezuela

Through her research into the social and cultural dimensions of public space, Penélope is using her experience and skills as an architect to improve people's lives in Caracas.

Her awareness of the fractures within the community, together with a desire to improve their overall quality of life, led her to create urban interventions to bring people together and reclaim her hometown from the extreme violence that dominates it.

As a lecturer at the University of Reading, she uses her international experience to demonstrate how architecture can be a catalyst for creating positive social change, through the way we design and inhabit our built environment.

Penélope applies the architectural approaches she teaches to tackle Caracas' social problems with small-scale intervention for a significant social impact. She works to lessen the fear of becoming a victim of violence by encouraging people to reinhabit their streets and reclaim ownership of public spaces.

Through her not-for-profit organisation, CollectiVoX, Penélope devotes her free time to collaborating with communities, cultural organisations and local government to co-create projects that foster an inclusive, participative and playful reoccupation and use of urban space.

One of CollectiVoX's projects that Reading students learn about is "CCSen365" which invites the public to reconcile with Caracas by rediscovering shared memories and their love for the city through urban walks. Penélope sees this as an act of urban resilience, focusing their efforts on reframing places in Caracas with new and positive memories.

By learning first-hand about socially transformative projects, such as Penélope's research project, students at Reading gain a perceptive, empathetic lens through which to view architecture, and develop a broader appreciation for the wider impact architectural design has on society.

"I realised that as an architect I not only had the creativity and skills to design and make buildings, but also to positively transform how a city is perceived an inhabited."

Learn more about Penélope's research interests

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