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Fatemeh Arefiah

E-mail: fatemah.arefian.10@ucl.ac.uk

Nationality: Iranian 

Year of entry: 2010


Fatemeh (Farnaz) Arefian is a PhD candidate with 20 years experience in private sector management, urban design and architecture.  These positions included inter alia large-scale urban development projects, reconstruction, urban design frameworks, new towns formation, regeneration programmes, large-scale affordable housing projects, and airports. She was a consultant practice manager for architectural service provision for housing reconstruction for 2,100 families, and a street-scale urban design project in post disaster reconstruction programme in Bam, Iran.

As a reflective practitioner, she decided to return to academia in order to make a greater impact on the quality of professional practice. In her PhD research at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL, she investigates organisational design and management for post-disaster reconstruction programmes, premised on participation.  This work contributes to future disaster risk reduction.

She was the initiator and principal organiser of the international conference at UCL University in November 2012 (Urban Change in Iran). UCL was praised for this initiative by the Director General of UNESCO.


  • PGDip Strategic Management and Leadership
  • Prince 2 Project Management (practitioner level)
  • MSc. Town planning, Urban Design
  • M. Architecture

Title: Organising Reconstruction Programmes within the Context of Post Disaster Multidimensional Recovery
Post Disaster Reconstruction, Organisation Design, Disaster Management, Disaster Risk Reduction, People’s Participation, Recovery, Iran, Bam
As a result of developmental approach to recovery, reconstruction should not only facilitate the process of rebuilding the lost assets, it also should contribute to approaching strategic objectives, e.g. the future’s reduction of disaster risks. In parallel, empirical evidences show that engaging people in the reconstruction is potentially beneficial for recovery, e.g. psychological, economic, and houses to be better matched with people’s lifestyles. People’s participation is seen as a win-win scenario for both people and reconstruction executive bodies.

However, against idealistic theoretical expectations from reconstruction, their delivery in practice has proved problematic. Scholars and practitioners acknowledge complexities of organising reconstruction. Such contemporary expectations from reconstruction significantly increase the complexities of organising reconstruction activities. It is rhetoric versus reality.

At present there is a gap in theory to provide conceptual model or analytical framework for understanding and analysing the reality of organising post-disaster reconstruction programmes. My research aims to contribute to bridging this theoretical gap on organising reconstruction within the current perception of integrated recovery. It is done through understanding the concepts that influence organisation design and management of post-disaster reconstruction programmes from the perspective of organisation theory.

The research is a multidisciplinary case study research and its overarching methodology is qualitative. The case study of the research is housing reconstruction programme in Bam, Iran, after the catastrophic earthquake on 26/12/2003, as a strategic illustrative sample. The Bam housing reconstruction aimed to facilitate people’s participation, reduce future disaster risk reduction and also safeguard architectural urban fabric. The research offers theoretical and instrumental value for the field of reconstruction. And hopefully it contributes to bridging the gap between theory and practice in this important matter.

Main Supervisor: Cassidy Johnson
Subsidiary Supervisor:
Julio D Davila

Viva expected in 2014

Papers, Presentations and Research Projects

Arefian, F., Fayazi, M. Gharaati, M. Johnson, C. and Davidson, C. 2014. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, key to improved reconstruction and risk reduction - the case of Bam (in press)

Arefian, F. 2013. Organising Housing ‘Reconstruction + X’, presented at UK Shelter Event at UCL

Johnson, C., Bosher, L., Arefian, F., 2013. Towards CIB-UNISDR Research Roadmaps, on behalf of the CIB Task Group: Disasters and the Built Environment, TG63 (W 120).

Arefian, F. 2013. Urban Design in the Middle East, presented at Urban Design Group Seminar, UK

Arefian, F. 2013. Looking at Urban Change in Iran, Architecture and Building Magazine, Spring Volume, Iran (in Persian)

Johnson, C., Adelekan, I., Arefian, F. Bosher, L., Jabeen, H., Kataria, S., Marome, W.A. and Zerjav, B. 2012. Private Sector Investment Decisions in Building and Construction: Increasing, Managing and Transferring Risks, ( A Background paper) for teh Global Ri

Arefian, F. 2012. Guest Editor of the Urban Design Quarterly, Special Topic: Urban Design in the Middle East, 124, Autumn issue, London

Arefian, F. 2012. Dialogue between Post Disaster reconstruction and Housing Development Practice in Normal Situations, presented at the International Conference, Urban Change in Iran, UCL

Farnaz Arefian, F., Adibzadeh, B. and Divsalar, S., 2012. Trends in Urban Design Projects in Iran, Urban Design Quarterly, Special Topic: Urban Design in the Middle East, 124, Autumn issue, London

Arefian, F., 2012. Learning Lessons from Post-Disaster Reconstruction in order to Improve Safe Construction in Normal Situations, presented at the IRDR Annual Conference, UCL

Arefian, F., 2010. Co-operative Strategic Management Knowledge and Inter-Boundary Collaboration in Post Disaster Reconstruction, (proceeded for CIB World Congress 2010, Salford

Arefian, F., 2009. Building Back Better; Bam: A Journey through History, presented for International Development Network at Royal Town Planning Institute

Arefian, F. 2008. What Can Planners Contribute To Post-disaster Recovery? (Requested by International Development Network at RTPI as a background paper) for the Guidance for Humanitarian Organisations: the Built Environment Professions Disaster Risk Reduction and Response, Max Lock Centre, University of Westminster, available at http://www.rics.org/dmguide

Arefian, F. 2006. Optimizing the System Information Management Methods, research on behalf of the ‘Co-ordination Council of Engineering Institutions and the Planning & Budget Ministry (in Persian)

Arefian, F., 2006. The Analytical Approach Towards the Reconstruction Action Model in Bam, Shahr o Sakhteman (City and Building) specialist magazine, Spring Issue, Tehran (in Persian)

Arefian, F. 2005. Urban Design and New Towns’ Formation. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on New Towns, May 2005, Tehran (in Persian)

Arefian, F. 2004. Exploring Urban Design Role in Different Scopes of Planning Programmes in New-Towns’ formation, The Periodic Book of New Towns, Housing & Urbanism Ministry of Iran (in Persian)

Arefian, F. 2004. Introduction of Strategic and Place-making Approach in New-Towns’ Planning Programmes”, The Periodic Book of New Towns, Housing & Urbanism Ministry of Iran (in Persian)

Shahid Behesti University, 2002. Influential Elements on Iranian Cities’ Townscape, four volumes commissioned by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development, (Researcher in charge of physical and environmental factors), the Research Team: Fatemeh Arefian, Cyrus Sabri, Shahindokht Bargh-Jelveh and Maliheh Hamidi, (in Persian)

Other Work: Professional Experience

Independent researcher and consultant (for housing development programmes, disaster-development and urban design) in the UK; founder, head of urban design department and lead urban designer an architectural, urban design consultancy company (member of FIDIC), growing from 2 to 45 staff and outsourcing teams based in Iran, delivering key urban development and architectural projects. Professional experience includes:

· New-town formation and urban development plans

· Post disaster reconstruction

· Urban development programmes in old fabrics

· Urban design projects and strategic frameworks

· Mixed-use developments

· Housing development programmes

· Large scale affordable housing

· Office buildings

· Airport passenger terminals and land-side masterplanning