Connecting Malta and Lesotho through architectural design

Rugby and the workplace - The unlikely parallels

Connecting Malta and Lesotho through architectural design is the 16th talk of the APS talks series, which will be presented by Daniela Gusman and Pedro Clarke, with concluding remarks by Prof. Alex Torpiano on 6 August 2020. 

The primary objective of the project was to give students in Malta the opportunity to learn how to design in a very different social, cultural, and economic context to that which they are used to. The main tool of investigation was participatory design (PD).

PD is a process that brings all relevant stakeholders and their needs within the architectural design development. In this way, architecture as a discipline goes beyond being solely concerned with the economic and aesthetic values of the building. Instead, the students developed architectural design processes that focused on the social, environmental, ethical values and volatile contextual aspects, such as the lack of resource availability, users' appropriation, programme temporality and most importantly, the building's relationship with society and environment.

The opportunity to get the students involved in a ‘real' design studio was an exciting proposition not only for the students, but also for rise International. Whilst planning this exercise, for the design and development of Lesotho's first Enterprise Hub, with APS Bank and the University of Malta, one of the key concerns of rise was how to ensure that the exercise engaged ‘local needs' and ‘local people'.

Little did we know that ‘not being on site' was soon to become the norm.

How can a participatory process work in such conditions? And how do you manage both students and participants' expectations?

These are the key questions which albeit for a project 7,400km away we will be discussing, but which also applies to any project in any sector that might be a mere 5km away in a post-pandemic world.

18:30: Introduction
18:35: Explanation about the project - Daniela Gusman  
18:45: Insights into Participatory Design - Pedro Clarke
19:00: Student presentations
19:15: Conclusion - Professor Alex Torpiano
19:20: Q&A


Central European Time (CET)




Daniela Gusman


Daniela Gusman

Daniela Gusman is a seeker of social impact justice through entrepreneurship. She is the founder of rise International, a social enterprise focusing on youth employment through entrepreneurship and architecture.



Daniela is a seasoned executive with over 25 years of experience in the private sector as well as the international development sector. She has worked for various organistions, from large multi-national companies such as British Steel to smaller grassroots NGOs such as Kick4Life and Spark MicroGrants.


She has also served on various NGO boards and worked extensively throughout Europe, Australia, Southern and Eastern Africa and in the USA in International Sales & Marketing, PR, Business Development and Social Entrepreneurship. She has provided strategic growth planning for companies, designed and launched social enterprises and led diverse teams in various sectors from educational services, manufacturing to corporate B2B events.



Pedro Clarke


Pedro Clarke

Pedro Clarke is an architect and co-director of the in loco programme at rise international. Pedro graduated in architecture from FAUP, Portugal in 2007, following a year-long experience building a safe house for a local NGO in Lesotho. He has completed an MA degree in Development and Emergency Practice at CENDEP/ Oxford Brookes University.



He is creative problem solver with a can-do attitude. When he's not running his not-for-profit architectural and development practice A+Architecture, he can be found getting his hands dirty on site or running online tutorials and webinars on architecture and construction. A firm believer in participatory planning and that architecture has the power to change people's lives and should be accessible to all. In 2014, Pedro was selected to be part of the Official Portuguese Participation at the XIV International Architecture Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, "Homeland: News from Portugal.

Alex Torpiano


Professor Alex Torpiano

Professor Alex Torpiano is the Dean of the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta since 2008, as well as the current Executive President of Din l-Art Helwa. He is a founding partner of an architectural and structural design and consulting company called TBA Periti. He is also the former president of the Kamra tal-Periti.


Prof Torpiano's academic qualifications include a PhD in Masonry Shell Structures from the University of Bath, a Master of Science in Concrete Structures, from the University of London and a Bachelor of Engineering and Architecture from the University of Malta.

He serves on many boards including the Institute of Sustainable Energy and Sustainable Development. Prof Torpiano has also published several research papers and articles and has been listed as a noteworthy Structural engineering educator by Marquis Who's Who.

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