Dr Paola Leardini

Senior Lecturer in Architecture

School of Architecture
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
p.leardini@uq.edu.au
+61 7 336 53957
0426041867

Overview

Dr Paola Leardini is the Program Convenor of the Master of Urban Development and Design and the Bachelor of Design of the University of Queensland’s School of Architecture; she is a leading researcher of the Centre for Future Building Structure, and a member of the Australian Government funded Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive. She studied architecture with a focus on green technologies in Milan, Berlin, Leicester and Copenhagen, and holds a PhD on building energy efficiency and environmental quality from the Politecnico di Milano (Italy). Her doctorate work was undertaken under the guidance of Prof P. Ole Fanger, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of thermal comfort.

Dr Leardini has worked as an ESD designer and consultant, and taught in tertiary institutions in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and New Zealand, before joining the University of Queensland in 2015. Her current professional and academic work aims at dissolving the apparent dichotomy between design and performance in architecture and urban design, promoting smart and resilient built environments through integrated water and energy design strategies for engaged communities and multifunctional public space. This overarching goal has driven her latest research on circular economy in construction with a focus on mass timber prefabrication and adaptable/scalable housing, water sensitive urban design and flood resilience.

Her research focuses on environmental impacts and resilience of the built environment, including investigation and assessment of multiple intervention strategies for low to positive energy buildings and urban districts. Through her academic and professional activity, she has built up extensive experience in building diagnostic and retrofitting, and urban regeneration. In 2003-04 she contributed to the major urban regeneration and social housing retrofitting program of the historical district “Quartiere Mazzini” in Milan (Italy), funded by the Lombardy Regional Council. Later, her research focused on eco-retrofitting of state housing developments in New Zealand, financially supported by the University of Auckland and industry partners. As a certified Passivhaus designer, in 2012 Dr Leardini became founding member of the Passive House Institute New Zealand (PHINZ), and in 2018, joined the Australian Passive House Association (APHA). In 2015, Dr Leardini became a member of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities, a government funded, inter-disciplinary research initiative involving over 80 research, industry and government partners, to deliver socio-technical urban water management solutions to make Australian towns and cities water sensitive. Since its inception, she has been an active research member of UQ Centre for Future Timber Structure, a Centre of excellence to generate knowledge-based innovations and accelerate engineered timber products uptake by the building industry, contributing to de-carbonising the built environment. Dr Leardini is also a member of the Design Excellence Panel: Queensland social and affordable housing, recently established by the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy in partnership with the Office of the Queensland Government Architect.

Her studies on comfort and energy efficiency of new and historic residential buildings, as well as quality and resilience of public space have been published internationally. Dr Leardini serves as a board member and a reviewer of scientific journals and has been invited to join judging panels of prestigious sustainable architecture competitions, including the Climate CoLab by the MIT Centre for Collective Intelligence.

Memberships

  • Design Excellence Panel: Queensland social and affordable housing (since 2020)
  • Centre for Future Timber Structures (since 2016)
  • Scientific Committee of New Zealand Academy of Applied Research (since 2016)
  • Australian Passive House Association (since 2018)
  • Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (2015-2021)

Research Interests

  • Water sensitive cities
    Urban Intensification and green Infrastructures: demonstration projects for testing water sensitive precinct design strategies.
  • Performance assessment of certified green buildings
    Impact of rating tools on building performance and occupant satisfaction through environmental and energy monitoring as well as POE surveys.
  • Smart technologies and smart grid
    Impact of smart technologies and networks on building and urban design processes.
  • Positive tourism development
    Strategies for positive ecological, socio-cultural and economic regeneration of tourism destinations through sustainable tourism development.
  • Performative design and eco-digital fabrication
    New approach to the design of the built environment, driven by digital technologies of quantitative and qualitative performance-based simulation.
  • Passive House Standards in warm climates
    PH standard’s suitability in warm climate and development of context-responsive building solutions.
  • Diagnostic, conservation and reuse of buildings of cultural and historical significance
    Development and comparative analysis of intervention strategies for the performance upgrade of the existing building stock and the socio-economic regeneration of its context.

Qualifications

  • PhD Environmental Quality Project, Politecnico di Milano
  • Master of Science in Achitecture, Politecnico di Milano

Publications

View all Publications

Grants

View all Grants

Supervision

View all Supervision

Available Projects

  • The project, co-supervised by Dr Lisa Ottenhaus (School of Civil Engineering) aims to investigate adaptable design of modular timber buildings for spatial reconfiguration and component reuse. The intended outcome is the development, prototyping and monitoring of an offsite manufactured panelised lightweight timber system for high-performance homes (passive house standard), that is adaptable to all Australian climates and long-term household changes. Research objectives relate to both system design as well as panel interface / connection design. This project is suitable for a PhD candidate with formal education in structural timber engineering. Prior experience in offsite construction or modular design, a basic understanding of building physics / hygrothermal performance, and a good understanding of timber connections are desirable. Start date April-December 2022. PhD scholarship available to competitive applicants – apply here https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/project/design-adaptable-modular-timber-buildings

  • Major cities in Australia expect significant infill development over the coming decades. This urban densification could have significant impact on hydrological performance, resources efficiency, urban heat, amenity and liveability of urban areas. Urban renewal and redevelopments enabled by infill are great opportunities to reshape cities for sustainable and resilient urban growth and facilitate moving away from unsustainable linear “extract-use-dispose” urban water management practices. However, there is limited knowledge, and tools, for the assessment of water performance of infill development. This research focuses on water sensitive design models for infill development in suburban areas; it will contribute to building cities that minimise disturbance in natural hydrology, maximising resources efficiency, amenity, and liveability.

  • The Passive House (or PassivHaus) standard was originally developed in Germany and has since spread throughout Europe. In recent years it has found popularity, and has been implemented in diverse climatic regions. To date over 40,000 houses, schools, offices, and other building types have been built to the PH standard around the world, only a few in Australia. This research project aims to verify if and to what extent this standard can be applied in tropical and subtropical Australia under its specific climatic and socio-economic conditions. Given the PH is a performance standard rather than a list of prescriptive requirements, the study will identify “local” conditions relevant for the application of PH principles in the country and, accordingly, develop design strategies, to be validated by the simulation tool Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) released by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt and internationally used for certification.

View all Available Projects

Publications

Book

Book Chapter

Journal Article

Conference Publication

Other Outputs

  • Leardini, Paola, Darr, Jonus, Moulis, Antony and Ozgun, Kaan (2018). Norman Creek Catchment: dwelling on floodscapes. Urban intensification and green infrastructure: towards a water sensitive city (Project D5.1) Melbourne, VIC, Australia: Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Associate Advisor

    Other advisors:

Completed Supervision

Possible Research Projects

Note for students: The possible research projects listed on this page may not be comprehensive or up to date. Always feel free to contact the staff for more information, and also with your own research ideas.

  • The project, co-supervised by Dr Lisa Ottenhaus (School of Civil Engineering) aims to investigate adaptable design of modular timber buildings for spatial reconfiguration and component reuse. The intended outcome is the development, prototyping and monitoring of an offsite manufactured panelised lightweight timber system for high-performance homes (passive house standard), that is adaptable to all Australian climates and long-term household changes. Research objectives relate to both system design as well as panel interface / connection design. This project is suitable for a PhD candidate with formal education in structural timber engineering. Prior experience in offsite construction or modular design, a basic understanding of building physics / hygrothermal performance, and a good understanding of timber connections are desirable. Start date April-December 2022. PhD scholarship available to competitive applicants – apply here https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/project/design-adaptable-modular-timber-buildings

  • Major cities in Australia expect significant infill development over the coming decades. This urban densification could have significant impact on hydrological performance, resources efficiency, urban heat, amenity and liveability of urban areas. Urban renewal and redevelopments enabled by infill are great opportunities to reshape cities for sustainable and resilient urban growth and facilitate moving away from unsustainable linear “extract-use-dispose” urban water management practices. However, there is limited knowledge, and tools, for the assessment of water performance of infill development. This research focuses on water sensitive design models for infill development in suburban areas; it will contribute to building cities that minimise disturbance in natural hydrology, maximising resources efficiency, amenity, and liveability.

  • The Passive House (or PassivHaus) standard was originally developed in Germany and has since spread throughout Europe. In recent years it has found popularity, and has been implemented in diverse climatic regions. To date over 40,000 houses, schools, offices, and other building types have been built to the PH standard around the world, only a few in Australia. This research project aims to verify if and to what extent this standard can be applied in tropical and subtropical Australia under its specific climatic and socio-economic conditions. Given the PH is a performance standard rather than a list of prescriptive requirements, the study will identify “local” conditions relevant for the application of PH principles in the country and, accordingly, develop design strategies, to be validated by the simulation tool Passive House Planning Package (PHPP) released by the Passivhaus Institut in Darmstadt and internationally used for certification.