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The curators

of China goes Urban


Michele Bonino, is Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design and Vice Rector for Relations with China at the Politecnico di Torino. He is a member of the China Room research center and, previously, was the Director of the Master of Science in Architecture Construction City (2015 to 2018).

He was a Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University (Beijing 2013 and 2014) and a Visiting Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT, Boston 2016).

For Polito he is leading the architectural design of the visitor center for the XXIV Olympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022, under construction). With Sun Yimin, he was the Academic Curator of the 2019 Bi-City Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture.

Among his recent books, The City after Chinese New Towns (Birkhäuser 2019, with F. Governa, M.P. Repellino, A. Sampieri) and Beijing Danwei. Industrial Heritage and the Contemporary City (Jovis 2016, with F. De Pieri).


Francesca Governa, PhD, is an urban geographer and full professor of economic and political geography at the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning- DIST, Politecnico di Torino. She is part of the China Room, a research group on Urban China, and Deputy Project Manager of FULL – Future Urban Legacy Lab joining architects, engineers, economists, geographers and planners to study the main challenges opened by a rapidly urbanizing world. She is involved in research activities at national and international level on four main issues: local development processes and policies; urban margins and spatial justice; urban development and the rescaling of the urban realm; Urban China and urbanization processes in the Global South. She is the author of about 200 scientific publications and is currently the principal investigator of a three-year research program on Chinese urbanization processes related to the Belt and Road Initiative. She is also the scientific supervisor of a research funded under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions on the role of Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa. She has carried on fieldworks in European, North African and Chinese cities.


Samuele Pellecchia began working as a photojournalist after his studies in philosophy, and in 2004 founded Prospekt Photographers Agency. In the last years he has worked in Kosovo, Macedonia, Algeria, Cuba, Palestine, Eastern Europe, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Southern America, Lao PDR, Brazil, Haiti and Egypt.

He covered stories all around the world. In 2006 he was amongst the authors of the project Water Corp. Human Right or Commodity, in collaboration with Amnesty International. In 2007 he was one of the photographers assigned for the book Let the Children Play by Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.

His long term project Close To Me was at Rencontres d’Arles, La Nuit de l’Année in 2011. In 2006 and 2009 he won the first prize of the Enzo Baldoni Journalistic Award.

In 2009 he was producer and author of the web-doc The Iron Curtain Diaries, shortlisted at the first edition of the France 24-RFI Web Documentary Award at  Visa pour l’Image 2009, at Festival Des Quatres Ecrans in Paris, and at IDFA in Amsterdam. The documentary Murat, the Geographer has been selected at the CMCA - Méditerranée Audiovisuelle in Arles.

The collaboration with Corriere della Sera produced many videos and photo reportage, including God Blessed You on the situation of immigration in the Mediterranean Sea in 2017 and 100 Giorni in Europa on the European elections in 2019.

With the Politecnico di Torino, and in partnership with the Tsinghua University, he worked on a three years scientific research on Chinese new towns, published in an international book. His works have been published and exposed all over in the world.


Francesco Carota is Post-Doc Research Fellow at the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST) and member of the China Room research group, Politecnico di Torino. His research focus on the real estate and housing industry in post reform China, investigating the role that single real estate developers had in shaping commercial houses and the built environment during the recent period of market formation and transformation. He teaches at the Atelier of Architectural Design at the Politecnico di Torino. He received his Ph.D. in Architecture, History and Design from Politecnico di Torino in 2019. During extensive sojourns in China, he has been visiting scholar at the South China University of Technology and co-curator of the Italian Pavilion at the Shenzhen Design Week – 2018 Edition. He worked as architect and visual artist in several architectural firms and he is co-founder of the design studio Cargo Visual Office.


Francesco Merlini was born in Aosta in 1986. After a bachelor's degree in industrial design at the Politecnico University of Milan, he completely devoted himself to photography. After covering Italian news, he now works mainly on personal long-term projects, reportages and editorials.

In 2012, Francesco was published in the book Mono vol. One alongside renowned photographers such as Daido Moryiama, Anders Petersen and Antoine D’agata. In 2016 he was selected by the British Journal of Photography in order to be part of The Talent Issue: Ones to Watch. In 2020 Francesco was nominated for the Prix HSBC pour la Photographie. His pictures have been published on national and international magazines and newspapers including Washington Post, Financial Times, Le Monde, L'Espresso, Internazionale, Corriere della Sera, D La Repubblica, Sette, Wired, Gq, Die Welt, La Stampa, Rolling Stone and his projects have been exhibited worldwide in collective and solo exhibitions.

Francesco’s first book The Flood, published by Void, will be launched in 2021.

In parallel with his photographic career, in the last five years Francesco has coordinated the international documentary agency Prospekt, taking on the role of photo editor, sales manager and curator, working closely with some of the most awarded contemporary reportage photographers and with the most important magazine from around the world.


LIU Jian received her Bachelor degree in Architecture, Master and Doctor degree in Urban Planning from Tsinghua University. She is now Vice Dean and Tenured Associate Professor at the School of Architecture (Tsinghua University) and Managing Chief-Editor of China City Planning Review. She was Fulbright Visiting Scholar at Harvard University (US), visiting scholar at the Observatoir d'Architecture de la Chine (France) and the University of British Columbia (Canada). She acts as professor, researcher and city planner, with particular interests on town and rural planning, urban regeneration, and international comparative studies. She publishes both domestically and overseas and is active in both national and international academic networks. She chairs and participates to practical projects of urban planning in a number of Chinese cities and has been rewarded with both national and ministerial prizes.


Angelo Sampieri, architect and PhD in urban planning, is associate professor of urban planning at the Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning- DIST, Politecnico di Torino. Here he deals with theories and cultures of contemporary urban design with particular attention to landscape and housing. On these issues, he has participated in researches in Europe, Africa, South America and China, and has written articles and edited volumes. Since 2017 he has been a member of the China Room, within which he participates in design and research activities on urbanization processes in contemporary China.


Maria Paola Repellino, architect and Ph.D. in Architecture and Building Design (2016); Research Fellow at the Politecnico di Torino where she is Executive Director of the China Room research group and a member of the Future Urban Legacy Lab. Visiting Scholar at the School of Architecture of Tsinghua University in Beijing (2014). Her research work focuses on the role of industrial legacy in redefining the relationships between architecture, city and production in contemporary China. Her main publication to date is the book The City after Chinese New Towns: Spaces and Imaginaries from Contemporary Urban China (Birkhäuser 2019, ed. with M. Bonino, F. Governa, A. Sampieri).

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