our team


Joana holds a BSc degree in Architecture from the American University of Beirut and an MSc in Building and Urban Design in Development from the University College of London. She has developed her experience around architecture, sustainable development, cultural heritage, migration and human rights across several contexts in Lebanon, UK, Syria, Iraq, Greece, Cambodia, Brazil, Colombia and Thailand. Her recent practice revolves around working closely with communities following a bottom up design approach.

Joana Dabaj

Co-founder & Principal Coordinator


Riccardo is an architect and urban designer with experience in research, design and planning in different countries such as Kenya, Cambodia, Italy, Germany, Poland and the UK. He holds an MSc from University College London (UCL) in Building and Urban Design in Development. He co-founded the project Mathare River. In Nairobi he worked as researcher and field project manager for Liveinslums NGO. Throughout his career he was able to experience various people centered design approaches.

Riccardo Luca Conti

Co-founder & Executive Director


Ronan has a diverse career combining both construction and media production. His experience on site brings with it both practical implementation skills and pre-phase planning knowledge. Advising and assisting on UK HSE guidance for safe systems of work; to improve the wider levels of safety on our site. His involvement with CatalyticAction started with Lebanon 2015, having been working on other projects in the region. He has since become a valued input; assisting on taking projects through from the preliminary design to implementation.

Ronan Glynn

Construction Supervisor

Dima Mabsout is an artist (BA in Fine Arts from Central Saint Martins, London) whose work particularly focuses on the educational and therapeutic values of the creative process as well as the power of art in catalysing social and political change. In 2012, she founded the “Naked Wagon”, a mobile platform that contests the nature of public space and promotes artistic interventions through collaboration and social initiatives. Dima’s work in Lebanon involves teaching and training workshops in private, public, and refugee settings.

Dima Mabsout


Bahaa is an Architect, holding a masters degree in Architecture from the Lebanese University. He designed, renovated and executed several traditional and modern buildings. He has valuable experience in local and traditional construction techniques. He worked on the Shouf Built Heritage Conservation Project since it started 2009, protecting and conserving the Lebanese built heritage. He believes that Architecture is not just about a property but it’s about spiritual and social contact. He is also a paramedic in the Red Cross Lebanon.

Bahaa Ghassan


Luca Astorri graduated from the Politecnico di Milano in 2007 where he became Assistant Professor in 2009. After working with OMA / Rem Koolhaas between 2006 and 2008, he founded Argot; an architectural firm in Milan where he develops architecture and urban projects. Luca has also been collaborating with the NGO Liveinslums since 2010; where was responsible for architecture and research projects focusing on informal settlements in Cairo, Nairobi and San Paolo ( website ).

Luca Astorri

Architect Consultant


Laura holds a BSc from UCL in Urban Planning, Design and Management. After working with local authorities in the UK, she then went on to study Building and Urban Design in Development as an MSc, at the Development Planning Unit, UCL. Her academic research focussed largely on conflict, migration and social movements. She is currently completing a PhD at LSE; focussing on the rights of female domestic workers in cities. She has experience working in international settings, with NGO’s, community groups and governmental organisations

Laura Antona



Board of Trustees

Emanuela has more than 6 years experience in programme management in the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, OPT) and East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti) with specific focus on protection issues. She is currently Humanitarian Programme Coordinator at HelpAge International and in the past she has worked for international organisations such as Terre des hommes and INTERSOS. Emanuela has strong track record in project delivery from both an execution and stakeholder management perspective.

Emanuela Rizzo

Emergency Programme Coordinator Protection Advisor at HelpAge International


Andrea has a background in development studies and research, consultancy and project management experience in several countries, including Nigeria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bolivia and the Philippines. He lived in Kenya for nearly four years, working and researching in the informal settlements of Nairobi as a project manager for an NGO, consultant for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and as a research associate at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi.

Andrea Rigon

Lecturer at University College of London


Andrew Hilton RIBA ARB BA (Hons) Architecture, Dip Arch, PG (Dip) Architectural Practice. Andrew has 20 years professional experience working in Architecture and Urban Design with projects around the UK, Europe, Africa, Middle East and China. In 2008 he co-founded Urban Synthesis (UK) Ltd which has grown to have offices in UK and China delivering hundreds of hectares of socio-ecological and sustainable urban design and urban planning projects each year.

Andrew Hilton

Architect and Lecturer at Birmingham City University