Mona El Khafif



2008   University of Technology Vienna, Institute for Urban Design and Landscape, Dr. techn. (Doctoral Degree) in Urban Design (with distinction)

1996   University of Technology RWTH Aachen, Faculty of Architecture Dipl. Ing. (Professional Architecture Degree BArch/MArch equiv)


Mona El Khafif, Dr. techn. is an Associate Professor at UVA School of Architecture and Graduate Urban Design Program Director. She is co-author of the award winning publication ‘URBANbuild: Local/Global’ (with Ila Berman) and author of ‘Staged Urbanism: Urban Spaces for Art, Culture and Consumption in the Age of Leisure Society’ (German edition). Her research operates at multiple scales, examining the interdisciplinary aspects of urban design, temporary urbanism, urban prototyping, and strategies for the smart city. At UVA El Khafif serves as the RCN director of the recently funded NSF Grant entitled “MainStreet21” supporting a network of small and midscale cities in Virginia and co-directs the school’s initiative on Smart Environments.

El Khafif started her academic career 2000 in Vienna, Austria at the Institute for Urban Design and Landscape Architecture, where she taught urban research and design studios and lead the urban core studio for 5 years. 2006-2007 she joined the URBANbuild HUD grant at Tulane University in New Orleans dedicated to the rehabilitation of 4 neighborhoods in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. From 2008-2013 she was an Associate Professor at CCA California College of the Arts in San Francisco where she lead the division’s URBANlab and chaired the college's new 2 year post-professional Master of Architecture in Urban Design and Landscape program. From 2013-2016 El Khafif taught at the University of Waterloo, Canada where she co-directed the school’s DATAlab. Recently from 2016-2017 El Khafif was a guest professor at the TU Dortmund, Germany at the Institute of Urban Design. At UVA she teaches the graduate urban architecture studio, urban research and design studios as well as urban elective seminars investigating networked systems of urban mega regions.


In her design practice El Khafif worked on multiple temporary urban art interventions and exhibitions among those: 10x10 Cities: Green Facts Challenges, Futures in cooperation with AIASF, OPspace (El Khafif, Bieg) an installation designed for the re-activation of empty storefronts presented at the 2010 ZERO1 Biennial and iLOUNGE (El Khafif, Del Signore) commissioned by ZERO1 and Northern Spark Minneapolis in 2012. In 2013 during the Urban Prototyping Event in San Francisco Mona El Khafif and Marcella Del Signore presented two urban prototypes: The 10 Mile Garden and Instant Play Ground. Together with Maya Przybylski she launched her first research project at DATAlab entitled “On The Line”. OTL presents a transit-oriented cultural guide by highlighting and connecting transit riders with local arts, culture, architecture, heritage, commerce, recreation and entertainment activities along the 200 iXpress bus route. Her recent work entitled Urban Syncopation (Berman, El Khafif, Beites, Del Signore) was presented in 2016 on the Toronto Art and Design festival Nuit Blanche.

Since 2013 El Khafif is a partner with Ila Berman of SCALESHIFT a design research firm located in Toronto.

Her urban elective seminars are offering a variety of operational methods and tools for urban analysis investigating urban territories from the mega regional scale to the neighborhood and urban typologies. Under her guidance El Khafif’s thesis and PhD students received major recognitions. Among those Nada Nafeh who was awarded the Next Generation 3rd Prize Middle East Africa Award from the Lafarge Holcim Foundation [$ 15,000] for her thesis "[In]formal Pattern Language_A guide to Handmade Improvitecture© in Cairo” 2016, Montgomery De Luna who received the who received the Canadian thesis NSERC CGS-M scholarship of $ 17.000 for his thesis “The 3D City” in 2016, Kanika Kausal who was awarded with the AIA Certificate in 2016 for her thesis "Learning from Old Dehli_Decoding Urbanity”, and Alexander Dunkel, who received the 1st prize ASLA Research Award 2012, for his PhD research “Networked Landscapes." El Khafif has exhaustive experience in organizing global workshops and travel programs and lectured internationally in the US, Austria, Germany, China, Iran, and Canada.

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