From September to the end of December 2021, I had the chance to be a Visiting Assistant in Research (VAR) at the Yale Urban Design School, thanks to the Yale-UCL Exchange Programme.  

Outcomes of the Exchange:  Despite my PhD focuses on a comparative case study between London (UK) and Milan (IT), thanks to the Exchange, I had the opportunity to explore the US situation related to the coworking economy – New Haven city (where Yale University is located) hosts around 10 small-medium size coworking spaces, including Whitneyville Cultural Commons, that thrive local entrepreneurship. Some outcomes have been reached during the Yale-UCL Exchange period:  

The local coworking offers studios and hot-desks at affordable prices for the local community of Hamden. Moreover, the coworking space is offered at a low market rate because it is subsidised by other activities, such as wedding receptions or parties, that are charged at a private rate. This provides the opportunity to offer cheaper or free space to community groups that need it, such as the local students and residents with economic difficulties.  

Research activities and testing the focus group method: 

From May to the end of December 2021, I had the chance to be involved in the project “Co-designing a Resilient Social Infrastructure: Towards a Community Vision for Granville and Carlton Buildings’ together with Dr Pablo Sendra from UCL. This is knowledge exchange between university and communities, run by a group of researchers from University College London (UCL) in partnership with the local organisation Granville Community Kitchen ( The project has consisted of a series of community engagement workshops and interviews, with users, stakeholders and supporting organisations, with the aim of assessing the importance of the two buildings as a ‘resilient social infrastructure’ for the local community, through the co-production of evidence on meaningful attachment around the buildings. The engagement workshops and the process of co-producing the Community Vision have been a knowledge exchange with users and stakeholders, where users learn about the future plans for the buildings and gain agency in being able to express the kind of needs they require for their business, while stakeholders learn those needs and increase their capacity to support the local community.  

The Community Vision for Granville and Carlton Buildings is very related to my PhD study, as it is a community-centred space that hosts a local coworking space that acted as resilient social infrastructure during the pandemic. Moreover, the method used – community engagement workshops run via – helped me to familiarise myself with focus groups run via online platforms, testing myself on how to facilitate them and engage with a wider audience of participants. 

Granville Community Kitchen – Empowering Community Through FoodGet Involved. Granville Community Kitchen is run by the community for the community. There are loads of ways that you can participate in the work that we do!

Recent publications:

I have been involved in two recently released publications: 

Manzini Ceinar, I., Sendra, P., Colombo C., Devenyns A. (2021). Co-Producing a Social Impact Assessment with affected communities: evaluating the social sustainability of redevelopment schemes. Sustainability, 14(1).

Manzini Ceinar I., Pacchi C., Mariotti I. (2021). Emerging work patterns and different territorial contexts: trends for the coworking sector in pandemic recovery. Professionalità Studi 4/III, 134-159. Studium La Scuola (eds). ADAPT University Press. ISSN 0392-2790

Anyone that wants to discuss the above or get in touch with Irene, can do so at