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Rising Star: Fabrizio Matillana

Isabelle Priest

A true balancing act between quality design, community and planning needs

Fabrizio Matillana is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.
Fabrizio Matillana is a RIBAJ Rising Star 2020.

Principal urban designer, Enfield Council
Part 1: 2008  Part 2: 2010

Fabrizio Matillana stood out for this year’s judges as a qualified architect and planner who is aligning the two disciplines by bringing design thinking to planning issues. After 10 years working for Farshid Moussavi and other large firms, he recently joined Enfield Council’s strategic planning and design department as principal urban designer. Previously he had helped empower communities and collaborated with the Community Action Group for Holloway and Old Oak Neighbourhood Forum, advising residents how their preferred brief could be delivered via an alternative scheme.

At Enfield Council, he has applied his knowledge to promote clear and proactive planning advice – an aspect judge Alex Ely felt uses his skills to strengthen the planning system. He is now leading the urban design advice for Meridian Water Phase 1 and large projects at Edmonton Green Shopping Centre and Southall Gas Holders. He advocates dual aspect homes, clarity in tall building heights, meaningful communal spaces for housing and for carbon issues to be considered early. 

‘One of Fabrizio’s many strengths,’ explains referee Tom Rumble, urban design lead at Enfield Council, ‘is his hunger for knowledge, showing initiative in researching topics for the local plan, making connections across subjects and interrogating the status quo. This is complemented by a rare and genuinely collaborative approach to make the most impactful recommendations that satisfy both private and public sector goals. He quickly gained our confidence, there­after leading negotiations on some of Enfield’s largest and most complex proposals.’

‘Matillana shows a true balancing act between quality design, community and planning needs,’ says Klaus Bode. 



A selection of projects Matillana worked on while in private practice.
A selection of projects Matillana worked on while in private practice.

How would you most like to improve society through architecture?

How planning policies are worded has an impact on architecture. Communities benefit when policy is attuned to improving quality of life. There is a looseness of language in key statutory documents like the National Design Guide and London Housing SPG. I would like to move discourse away from ‘high quality’ or ‘beauty’, favouring clearer definition, supported by evidence and promoted by a broad professional base that link design quality with environmental footprint. 

Read about more 2020 Rising Stars here


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