Professor Ornella Iuorio

Professor Ornella Iuorio


Dr Ornella Iuorio is an academic, researcher and designer working at the edge between Architecture and Structures. Ornella joined the University of Leeds in September 2015 as Lecturer (B, grade 8), teaching in the Architectural Engineering Programme, promoted to “Associate Professor of Architecture and Structures” in 2019. 

Educated in Architecture at the “University Federico II” in Naples (IT) and “University Gabriele D’Annunzio” in Chieti – Pescara, she holds MArch (hons) degree in Architecture and a Ph.D in Structural Engineering. She developed her research carrier at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston (USA) within the Structural Design Lab and Building Technology Program. She has published more than 90 scientific articles, including journal publications, technical reports and international conference papers.

Professor Iuorio is a Professional/Chartered Architect in UK and Italy. She is specialized in the area of housing, schools and shelters.

Ornella acquired significant teaching experience as part-time professor in a number of design studios and lecturing in light-weight steel constructions.

Main education achievements:

  • Ph.D. in “Design, Analysis and Experimentation of Structures", University of Chieti-Pescara “G. D’Annunzio”. Thesis: "Design procedures for cold formed steel housing in seismic area". (2006 - 2009)
  • Visiting student. John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. Numerical analysis of thin walled members and wall systems. (2008)
  • MSc in Architecture, University of Naples "Federico II". Thesis: “Cold Formed Steel Housing: technological and structural performance” (2005)


  • Director: Cities, Energy, Infrastructures
  • Equality Diversity & Inclusion School Lead
  • Robotic@leeds Executive Committee Member

Research interests

Iuorio’s research impact is internationally recognised for its originality and interdisciplinary methods bridging between Resilient Structures, Architecture and Low-embodied Carbon Constructions.  Her current research focuses on the transformation of construction processes and how prefabrication, optimization and digital fabrication/ robotic assemblying can deliver more sustainable new constructions and retrofit the current built environment.

Prof Iuorio current research is financed by Innovate UK, British Academy, EPSRC, ESRC, and WUN with a portfolio of project in excess of £6M. Before joining Leeds, she has been awarded as PI a postdoctoral fellowship funded by Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and MIT titled “Smart retrofit of resilient historical cities”.

She has served as Advisory Board member for the Italian Pavilion at the Biennale di Architettura 2021, and organised the event “Novel Approaches for Post-disaster Infrastructures”. She is member of the Editorial board of a number of international journals, and has been invited as a guest speaker and as member of scientific committees at international conferences and public lectures. She has been member of scientific committees of international conferences as International fib Symposium on Conceptual Design of Structures (2019 and 2021), ICSA 2019 and 2022, SEEDS 2018 and 2021 and she recently organized the international conference SAFESUST2 SURECON sponsored by the European Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Ispra. She also co-organized the international workshop on “Urban Metabolism, Green Insfrastructures and Environmental Quality” in Rondonopolis (Brasil), sponsored by the Universuty of Leeds, University of Reading, and Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso (Brazil).

Recent Grants 

2021 - 2024 Prefabs sprouting: Modern Methods of Construction and the English housing crisis. ESRC grant: O. Iuorio, A. Wallace, C. Unterhitzenberger, L. Burns, Value: £ 726,000

2021 – 2024UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centre For Mineral-based Construction Materials. EPSRC grant (EP/V011820/1). U. Leeds investigators: L. Black, O. Iuorio, C. Velis & S.A. Bernal; in collaboration with colleagues from UCL, Loughborough U., Imperial College London, Lancaster U. & U. Sheffield. Value: £4,400,000

2021. WUN-BRIC. World University Network to Building Resilience In Construction. PI: O. Iuorio, Co-Is: C. Unterhitzenberger, with collagues from University of Auckland, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Università di Roma Tor Vergata, University of Ibadan. Research Groups - Worldwide Universities Network (

2019 – 2021NOVA-VIDA: Novel approach for vital infrastructure post-disaster. British Academy – Infrastructure for wellbeing grant. PI: O. Iuorio, Co-Is: M. Janoschka, R. Romano & S.A. Bernal, Value: £300,000 Novel Approach for Vital Infrastructure Post Disaster | The British Academy

2019 – 2022. KTP Ilke Homes. Founded by Innovate UK. PI: Ornella Iuorio, Co-I; N. Nikitas, Value: £ 300,000 

2019 – 2020. Digital Design and Fabrication, Funded by Laidlaw. PI: O. Iuorio, Scholar: H. Ottmann, Value: £ 10,000​​​​​​

2019. Digital Fabrication of Shell Structures. Funded by EPSRC Summer Project. PI: O.Iuorio, Scholar: E. Pugsley, Value: £3,000

2018 – 2019. Modular Housing, as response to the UK housing Crisis, Funded by ESRC LSSI IAA. PI: O. Iuorio, A. Wallace.  Value: £ 6,000. Project website: 

2017.  Re-naturing cities: Theories, Strategies and Methodologies. Travel grant. Value £1200. Funded by British Council/ FAPEG Newton Fund.

2016 – 2017. TRUE: Transformational Routemapping for urban environment Funded by EPSRC. PI: Paul Chatterton, Member of the Academic board for housing: Ornella Iuorio.

2016 Investigation of digital fabrication through perfomances Funded by Leeds Cultural Institute. Leeds Creative Labs DARE Edition 

2016 Training for Shaking table tests at University of Naples Federico II. Funded by Erasmus +

Dr Iuorio actively contributed to the following research projects:

2013 – 2016 ELISSA: Energy Efficient LIghtweight Sustainable SAfe Steel Construction. Seventh framework programme FP7 2013 NMP ENV EeB Project n°: NMP4 SL 2013 609086, PI: R. Landolfo, RA: O. Iuorio

2013 – 2015 Knauf Project "Experimental Campaign On The Structural Characterization Of Knauf Constructive Systems". PI: R. Landolfo, RA: O. Iuorio

2011- 2013 FARO, Innovation and sustainability for building renewing. Best practice for Building Retrofit and Maintenance. PI: R. Landolfo, RA: O. Iuorio

2010-13. Reluis Network of University Laboratory of Earthquake Engineering" Financed by the Italian Emergency Agency. Unit 3” Steel members” Task 2: “Seismic design of new buildings”, PI: R. Landolfo, RA: O. Iuorio 

2008 – 2011 COST Action C25 “Sustainability of Constructions: an integrated approach to life time structural engineering”, within WG3 “LIFE-TIME STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING”, supported by EU RTD Framework Programme, within COST- European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research.

2008 – 2011 COST Action C26 “Urban Habitat Constructions under Catastrophic Events” supported by EU RTD Framework Programme, within COST- European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research.

2005-2008 RELUIS "Network of University Laboratory of Earthquake Engineering" Financed by the Italian Emergency Agency. Unit n.1 “Design Principles and Rules for Braced Structures”. Scientific leader: Professor Federico Mazzolani. Task 5: “Development of innovative approaches to design structures in steel and composites.

2007- 2008 PROHITECH: “Earthquake protection of historical buildings by reversible mixed technologies”. Sixth framework programme priority FP6-2002-INCO-MPC-1 – Project n°: INCO-CT-2004-509119 (Coordinator F.M. Mazzolani)


2022 Top 50 Women in Engineering “Invertors & Innovators”, United by sustainability: the top 50 women in engineering – the full list for 2022 | Celebrating women engineers 2022 | The Guardian

2021 Sir John Fowler Award, ICE Yorkshire and Humber Civil Engineering Awards 2021

2020 “Inspirational Teacher” Special mention for the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Science, University of Leeds

National Habilitation to Associate Professor, Italian Minister for University and Research, Sector 08B3: Structural Engineering (since 2019)

2017 Best paper award “SEEDS Award for Contribution to the Built Environment”.

2014 Young Researcher Award for the best paper by a junior faculty member with the paper: “Structural material quantities and embodied energy coefficients: Challenges and Opportunities” presented at the Sustainable Structure Symposium in Portland

2012 Design Competition: “I am a city changer – Sustainable residential buildings”

2011 ECCS STEEL DESIGN AWARD, National selection For the Design and Execution of “Foundation and Primary School, Lago Patria, Naples”

2008 Regional Grant for Scientific Research Activity, University of Chieti-Pescara ‘G. D’Annunzio’ & Johns Hopkins University (USA)

ACAI 2006 AWARD FOR MASTER THESIS. Dissertation: “Housing in cold-formed steel: technological and performance features”

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • MArch (hons)
  • Ph.D.
  • ARB
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy

Professional memberships

  • Architect Registration Board (ARB)
  • Architect and Urban Planner Registration Board in Italy
  • IALCCE: International Association for Life Cycle Civil Engineering
  • IASS: The Iternational Association for Shell and Spatial Structures
  • Italian LCA Network

Student education

  • 2016 - Today Teaching in the Architectural Engineering Programme, University of Leeds. Module leader for Design studio 3.1 (CIVE 3850) and module leader of Architectural History and Theory 3 (CIVE 3270). She also collaborates in AE Design Studio 2, AE studio 4.2 and Environmental Health Engineering in Developing Countries. She supervises BEng and MEng dissertations.  
  • 2015 Kauffman Teaching Certificate Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
  • 2010 – 2011 Part-time Professor of Construction Technologies within Design Studio, Faculty of Architecture, University of Naples Federico II
  • 2009 - 2012 Teaching assistant, MEng “Design of Steel Structures”, University of Naples Federico II, Class: Thin-Walled Structure Design
  • 2006- 2012 Teaching assistant, Faculty of Architecture, University of Naples “Federico II”, Class: Laboratory of Structural Engineering

Current Team Members

  • Dr Smail Kechidi (KTP associate)
  • Dr Giulia Testori (Research Fellow in Critical Urban studies)
  • Dr Mirko Russo (Research Fellow in Design and Virtual Reality)
  • Dr Shoma Kitayama (Research Fellow in Design for Deconstruction)
  • Dr Kate Lawrence (WUN Research assistant)
  • Dr Jamiu Dauda 
  • Marinella Contestabile (PhD student)
  • Elvira Romano (PhD student)
  • Emil Korkis (PhD student)
  • Sam Wilcock (PhD student)
  • Antonio Gigante (Visiting PhD student)
  • Tannzeelah Javid (MEng)

Research groups and institutes

  • Energy Leeds
  • Institute of Design, Robotics and Optimisation
  • Materials and Structures
  • Cities, Infrastructure and Energy

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>
    <li><a href="//">Structural systems formed with deconstruction waste</a></li>