Seven Questions with... Mia Dibe

Mia Dibe

Mia Dibe

This week we meet Mia Dibe, a UCL alumna and architect who was recently named MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 21. Here, she chats to us about her interest in the built environment and shares her top recommendations for what museums to see in London.

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

I pursued a Master’s at UCL in smart cities and urban analytics and graduated with merit in 2020. I am passionate about anything that touches the built environment and shapes our world, the designed systems in all their intricacies and the impact they have to our daily lives. Coming from an architectural background, I wanted to challenge myself and transition to technology. I developed an interest in researching how data-driven solutions with machine learning applications have the power to drive efficiencies and innovations in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) sector.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

Although I joined clubs and societies, my favourite Wednesday evening activity was attending the weekly CASA seminar series followed by the Bartlett International Lecture Series at the School of Architecture in Gordon Street. I was exposed to a wide spectrum of topics around geographic systems, cities and urbanism, followed by a rich palette on architecture, space and urbanism.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?

It is by no means ’hidden’ but I spent most of my campus time at the Student Centre. This is where I nurtured my friendships and forged knowledge in interdisciplinary subjects through brilliant peers and groupwork.

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:

  • Art museums are a must if you are an enthusiast - I’d prioritise all the museums in South Kensington for art and science, but also the Tate Modern.
  • Food markets or Sunday markets for wandering around the capital - my favourite ones are Borough Market and Brick Lane Market.
  • It might be stating the obvious but a small picnic in one of the many parks is vital. A personal preference for those in West London, but in general English parks and gardens are wild and romantic.
  • What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?

    Public and private spaces that are specifically and flexibly designed to cater for social distancing or that take into consideration spatial lessons learnt from Covid. It frustrates me to see that new buildings or office projects are still following pre-Covid rigid layouts. The spaces we use are relative and should evolve with us.

    Who inspires you and why?

    Tough question to answer depending on the fields or situations I’ve dealt with. More related to the context of my Master’s thesis, I’ve been inspired lately by the work of Stanislas Chaillou, which encapsulates AI’s gradual encounter with architecture and integration into the practice. Stanislas’s experimental creativity and theoretical manifesto frames the age of AI in architecture, which is an increasingly popular topic in today’s times.

    What would it surprise people to know about you?

    I sometimes experience synaesthesia. It is a neurological trait or condition that results in a joining or merging of senses that aren’t normally connected. For example, I can see sound, a specific noise has a shape and colour - Monday has a specific smell and taste.


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