Dr Ioana Popovici

Dr Ioana Popovici

Lecturer in Architecture

School of Art, Design and Architecture (Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Business)



Ioana qualified as an architect in Romania, subsequently joining the teaching staff of the Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism for two years whilst also engaged in practice (residential, commercial) at one of the top Bucharest-based architecture studios. 

She joined the University of Plymouth for a doctoral research project focused on the critical examination of architecture praxis in articulation with power, the economy, and the specific socio-cultural practices of socialist Romania and their post-socialist transition, parsed through the lively discursive arena of architectural journals. 

During her doctoral studies, Ioana joined the UoP's School of Architecture teaching staff, supporting the history, theory, and critical context stream alongside design and communications, gradually expanding her teaching portfolio with module leadership and curriculum development roles. 

Since the completion of her PhD (2019), Ioana has transitioned to a Lecturer in Architecture role, and is now teaching across the BA (Hons) Architecture and Master of Architecture / MA Architectural Design programmes. Ioana's current research and teaching interests converge on the intersection between displacement, spatial practices, and creative agency in liminal cultural contexts, while her teaching ethos blends community-based, inter-disciplinary design with a strong focus on the collaborative and pedagogical potential of the architectural gesture. 

Teaching roles within BA (Hons) Architecture:

Module Leader - Y1 Design Studio 4.1 | DESN411

              Y1 History, Theory + Critical Context | HTCC412

Studio Tutor for Y1 - Design Studio, Communications | COMM411, DESN412

History, Theory + Critical Context tutor for Y2 | HTCC511

Tutor in MArch Architecture + MA Architectural Design : Emerging Research in Architecture | ARCH753B

                                             Urban Methodologies | Arch654A / Arch 774   


PhD in Architecture | School of Art, Design and Architecture | Plymouth University

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

B.Arch + M.Arch | Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism | Bucharest

Roles on external bodies

Reviewer for Routledge architectural book proposals and thematic architecture handbooks; peer reviewer for Architecture and Culture. 



Teaching interests

Ioana's research and teaching interests converge on the critical examination of architecture praxis - past, present, and future - in articulation with power, social, economic and cultural practices. The pedagogy of architecture and the role of language in shaping the spatial practices of the everyday also form a core area of this research focus. Since 2014, Ioana has supported architecture students in History, Theory + Critical Context to explore topics such as: liminality; transgressive architecture; matters of race, gender, and identity; disaster-relief design; the architectural critique of neo-capitalism; sustainability; the ethics of architecture practice, etc. 

Since joining the Y1 Design Studio / Communications team, Ioana's keen interest in the pedagogy of architecture has primarily attended to the pathways through which awareness of the key areas of architectural discourse (both historical and contemporary) can help students develop informed, nuanced, and context-responsive design proposals. 

In continuity with the civically-engaged stream of projects developed by Toshiko Terazono ( BA(hons) Architecture Y1 Leader), and Dr Karen Wickett (Lecturer in Early Childhood Studies), this lively Y1 studio module has set up as a collaborative place-making encounter between the children of High Street Primary Academy, Y1 Architecture, and Y3 Early Childhood Studies. The interdisciplinary live project (Oct 2021 - Feb 2022) sought to connect people and place around meaningful shared stories wrapped in architectural gestures which are site-responsive, environmentally aware, and sustainably resourced. 

https://millbayacademy.org/news/stonehouse-creek-projecthttp:/ [images from the children-led siting & place-making]

Previous projects from this ongoing collaborative initiative connecting BA architecture students with the needs of local Plymouth schools include an outdoors classroom for the the Riverside Community Primary School (leader: Toshiko Terazono), which has been shortlisted for the RIBAJ MacEwen Award:




Research interests

In 2019 Ioana joined the research team of Creative Recovery: Mapping Refugees’ Memories of Home as Heritage, initiated and led by Associate Professor Sana Murrani. The project highlights the adaptive spatial agency of refugees and those affected by displacement, and proposes collaborative methodologies for creative recovery through memory and identity work centred on being at home / being in the city.


This research initiative and project is unpacked at length in a final report co-written with Associate Professor Sana Murrani. 

Further research outputs have been recently published in Social & Cultural Geography: 

Research groups

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

As 3rd supervisor (current): ‘Interrogating local spatial syntax; Ope as dialogue between propinquity and spatial signification in a coded urban environment’ by Leah Dinning



Key publications


Co-authored reports: 

Sana Murrani and Ioana Popovici, 'Mapping Creative Recovery' (European Cultural Foundation, 2020)


Key publications are highlighted


2022 - Sana Murrani, Helen Lloyd & Ioana-Cristina Popovici (2022) 'Mapping home, memory and spatial recovery in forced displacement', Social & Cultural Geography


2017 - 'Communist Romanian architecture. Des critiques autres: song, comedy, caricature', Critical Context Journal  (2017), 93-96.

2016 - 'Two Churches and A Hat: The National Bucharest Theatre or the Mythology of Post-War Romanian

      Architecture', PARSE Journal, 3 (2017), 109-128.

2014 - 'Architecture Competitions – A Space for Political Contention. Socialist Romania, 1950–1956',
      Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, 38 (2014), 24-38.

     - ‘The City as a Part of Nature, and Concrete as a Kind of Earth'. Japanese Architecture Meets 1960s-1980s 

       Romanian Modernism, studies in History & Theory of Architecture, 2 (2014), 116-139.

 2013 - 'Star-topped Spires and Cardboard Heroes. Soviet Socialist Realism in Arhitectura R.P.R.', studies in History &

       Theory of Architecture, 1 (2013), 60-77.

Murrani S, Lloyd H & Popovici I-C (2022) 'Mapping Home, Memory and Spatial Recovery in Forced Displacement' Social and Cultural Geography , DOI Open access

1-3 December 2021 - live project exhibition and hand-over to clients (High Street Primary Academy pupils and teachers) | Roland Levinsky 2nd floor gallery

Other Publications

2019 - 'Arhitectura 1950-1989. Interstitial Spaces of Communist Romanian Architecture' (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Plymouth, 2019)



Reports & invited lectures


21-22 Nov 2019 - European Foundation Centre - Arts and Culture Thematic Network - invited to present the Mapping Creative Recoveries project


Plymouth University:

2019 - present - Y2 HTCC guest lecture: 'Shaping ethical architecture practice: between professional culture and individual ethos'

             - Y1 Communications lecture / workshop: 'Architectural drafting | Orthographic projection | Axonometric projection | Plan and Elevation'

2019 - Jan - Y1 Communications lecture / workshop: 'Analytical Photography in Architecture' 

2018 - Oct - Y1 Critical Context lecture: 'Radical vs. Liveable. Moments of Rupture and Patterns of Flow'

2012 - Dec - M.Arch Design Studio lecture: 'Bucharest - city out of sync'

Other academic activities

Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism | Bucharest

 2011 Feb - 2012 June: History & Theory of Architecture and Heritage Conservation Department
 'Architecture, dwelling, city' course, 2nd year of study B. Arch | teaching assistant