Paola Boarin


Dr Paola Boarin graduated with a Master of Science in Architecture from the Department of Architecture of the University of Ferrara, Italy, where she received also a PhD in Architectural Technology.
Paola joined the University of Auckland in 2015, where she is Senior Lecturer of Architectural Technology, Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) and Architecture Technology Stream Co-ordinator. 
Prior to her appointment at the University of Auckland, Paola collaborated with the University of Ferrara (Italy) as Adjunct Professor of Architectural Technology and Environmental Design and as Research Fellow. There, she was also a member of the Architettura>Energia Research Centre, a research hub focusing on building sustainability and performance, where she played a key role in its establishment and development. 
Since 2011, she has been collaborating with the Green Building Council of Italy by leading the development of sustainability rating systems as Chair of the Technical Advisory Group ‘Historic Building’ and Vice-Chair of the Technical Advisory Group (Academic) ‘Materials and Resources’. This collaboration resulted in the development of the first and only rating tool assessing the level of sustainability of conservation-related interventions on historic buildings worldwide, i.e. GBC Historic Building®.

Her research addresses the links between architecture, technology and environment, with a focus on adaptive reuse, sustainable design, post-occupancy evaluation and performance assessment of buildings, for both new and existing buildings, also with heritage significance. Paola has extensively worked on sustainable adaptation and energy retrofit of existing and heritage buildings, on the sustainable regeneration of historic villages and on the development of environmental sustainability assessment tools, particularly for preservation-related interventions on pre-industrial buildings.

Research | Current

Main research interests are:

  • Comprehensive and innovative approaches for existing buildings retrofit and reuse towards nearly-zero energy building standards, with particular attention to school buildings and the cultural heritage, including post-occupancy evaluation (POE) methodologies.
  • Innovative approaches for sustainable heritage adaptation, with attention to assessment methods towards an integrated design process.

Paola is the Principal Investigator of a two-year research project funded under the Faculty Research Development Fund (FRDF) 2017, named "Bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and heritage conservation in New Zealand". Associate Investigators: Assoc Prof Julia Gatley, Prof Mohammed Farid.

Paola is involved as Associate Investigator in the National Science Challenge 11: Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities, where she is part of a $2.5m research project co-ordinated by the University of Auckland. Strategic Research Area 4 - Shaping Places: Future Neighbourhoods. Principal Investigator: Prof Errol Haarhoff.

Paola is also involved in the COST Action CA16114 - REthinking Sustainability TOwards a Regenerative Economy (2017-2021) as representative of the University of Auckland  (COST International Partner Country).

In 2017, together with Prof Errol Haarhoff and Dr Lee Beattie, Paola is co-founder and member of the Management Committee of a new Research Unit, the Shaping Places Research Hub, hosted by the School of
Architecture and Planning. 

Teaching | Current

  • ARCHTECH 208 - Environmental Design (BAS);
  • ARCHGEN 753 - Diagnosis and Adaptation (MHerCons, MArch(Prof)HerCons, MArch(Prof), MUrbPlan(Prof)HerCons);
  • ARCHDES 701-702 - Adaptive Reuse (MHerCons, MArch(Prof)).

Postgraduate supervision

I supervise MArch, MArch(Prof) and PhD theses in the areas of environmental sustainability and green buildings (ranging from existing buildings retrofit, to high-performance new buildings) and sustainable heritage preservation (adaptive reuse), with attention to international assessment methods and post-occupancy evaluation processes.

Completed Master's supervisions at the University of Auckland

  • Priscila Besen, MArch in Sustainable Design, 2016. Title: "Passive House in New Zealand: a comparison between predicted and real performance through post-occupancy evaluation".
  • Jui Nigudkar, MArch in Sustainable Design, 2016. Title: "Sustainable slum rehabilitation in Mumbai, India. Introducing Mumbai to energy efficient and sustainable slum rehabilitation".
  • Sameh Shamout, MArch in Sustainable Design, 2016. Title: "Energy retrofit of the existing building envelope in Jordan. A study on mixed-use buildings (retail and office) in Amman". 
  • Cam McDermid, MArch(Prof), 2017. Title: "Ruins to riches: adaptation and conservation. Adaptive re-use of the Warkworth Cement Works ruins".
  • Umer Qaiser, MArch(Prof), 2017. Title: "Urban farming in hot desert and humid climates. A study on climate-sensitive and passive design for water harvesting and crop production".
  • Chunya Cai, MArch in Sustainable Design, 2017. Title: "Green School Design: a strategy for tropical developing regions".
  • Michelle Chang, MArch(Prof), 2018. Title: "Beyond Brutal".
  • Jiaxuan Goh, MArch(Prof), 2018. Title: "A foreign affair. Re-thinking the exhibition typology with responses to industrial re-adaptation & the urban context".
  • Ellena Young, MArch(Prof), 2018. Title: "Beyond the shell: Interior adaptive reuse".
  • Jody Carlson, MArch in Sustainable Design, 2018. Title: "The integration of project management, quality and sustainable design to achieve sustainable project outcomes in New Zealand commercial building projects".

I'm interested in supervising Master theses (Research or Professional) on sustainable heritage preservation, adaptive reuse and energy retrofit of existing buildings.

Ongoing PhD supervisions

As main supervisor:

  • Jisun Mo, PhD in Architecture. Title (provisional): "Developing a new assessment system for analyzing environmental performance on the basis of the green building rating system".
  • Priscila Besen, PhD in Architecture. Title (provisional): "Retrofitting of existing timber framed buildings in New Zealand to EnerPHit standard".

As joint supervisor:

  • Yuxi Wang, PhD in Architecture (joint supervision with Dr Stephen-Knight Lenihan). Title: "Achieving Positive Tourism Development on small islands through tourism-related design".
  • Sameh Shamout, PhD in Architecture (joint supervision with Prof Suzanne Wilkinson). Title: "Developing resilience strategies for existing buildings and urban areas in East Amman".

As co-supervisor:

  • Philip Hartley, PhD in Architecture (main supervisor: AP Julia Gatley). Title: "Preserving the Modernist architectural heritage of New Zealand. How an understanding of design intent should inform conservation philosophy and practice".

Completed PhD supervisions

As co-supervisor:

  • Allan Balaara, PhD in Architecture (main supervisor: prof Errol Haarhoff). Title: "Postcolonial architecture in Ghana and the cultural crisis: redemptive strategies for sustaining precolonial architectural traditions".

I'm currently looking for a new PhD student willing to work on the topic of energy retrofit of historic buildings in New Zealand.


  • Young Researchers Program Award (Progetto Giovani Ricercatori), University of Ferrara, Italy (2006) | Research Project: Observatory on environmental sustainability assessment of buildings.
  • Honorary Research Fellow in Architectural Technology, University of Ferrara - Department of Architecture, Italy (2007-ongoing). 
  • Young Researchers Program Award (Progetto Giovani Ricercatori), University of Ferrara, Italy (2013) | Research Project: SU.R.E.2 - Sustainable Retrofit for Energy and Environmental improvement of heritage buildings.
  • International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), U.S. Department of State (2013) | Topic: Climate Change and Clean Energy.
  • Women in Leadership Programme, University of Auckland, New Zealand (2017).
  • Academic Leaders Programme, University of Auckland, New Zealand (2018).


  • Member of the School Postgraduate Committee, 2016, semester 1.
  • Co-ordinator of the Doctoral Thesis Proposal Reviews, 2016, semester 1.
  • Member of the School Academic Teaching and Learning Committee, 2016, semester 1 and 2 (chair).
  • Associate Dean (Academic and Teaching and Learning), 2016, semester 2.
  • Architecture Technology Stream Co-ordinator, 2016, semester 2 - current.
  • Associate (Dean Teaching and Learning), Jan 2017 - June 2018.
  • School Director (Architecture Programmes), 2018, semester 2.

Areas of expertise

  • Design strategies for energy efficiency and environmental quality of the built environment.
  • Sustainable adaptive reuse of existing and historic buildings.
  • Post-occupancy evaluations and audit procedures.
  • Existing buildings' sustainable retrofit and regeneration, mainly school buildings, historic buildings and villages.
  • International rating systems for environmental sustainability assessment of buildings and neighbourhoods.
  • National and international policies for energy-efficient buildings.

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Member of the Italian Society of Architectural Technology (SITdA) (2009-ongoing).
  • Vice-Chair of the Scientific Technical Advisory Group 'Materials and Resources' for the Green Building Council of Italy (2011-2015).
  • Chair of the Technical Advisory Group 'Historic Building' for the Green Building Council of Italy (2012 - ongoing).
  • Member of the Educational Group for the Green Building Council of Italy (2012-2014).
  • Delegate of the Green Building Council of Italy at the LEED International Roundtable (2012-2014).
  • Member of the Board of Professors of the Ph.D. programme in Architectural Technology, University of Ferrara – Department of Architecture, Italy (2012-2015).
  • Member of the Green Schools Advisory Group for Green Building Council of Italy (2014).
  • Member of the International Scientific Committee of Recuperoeconservazione Magazine, published by De Lettera WP, Italy (2014-ongoing).
  • Reviewer of the journal ilProgettoSostenibile, published by EdicomEdizioni, Italy (2014).
  • Member of the Architectural Science Association (ASA, former ANZAScA) (2016-ongoing).
  • Reviewer for Energy and Buildings, published by Elsevier (ISSN: 0378-7788; SJR 2015: 2,073) (2016-ongoing).
  • Reviewer for the Journal of Cultural Heritage, published by Elsevier (ISSN: 12962074; SJR 2014: 0,591) (2016-ongoing).
  • Reviewer for the open access journal Energies, published by Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) (ISSN: 19961073; SJR 2014: 0,856) (2016-ongoing).
  • Reviewer for the Journal Indoor and Built Environment, published by SAGE Publications (ISSN (online): 14230070; SJR 2016: 0,550) (2016-ongoing).
  • Reviewer for the international journal Architectural Science Review, published by Taylor & Francis (ISSN: 1758-9622; SJR 2014: 0,718) (2017-ongoing).
  • Member of the Scientific and Reviewing Committee of the Passive Low Energy Architecture (PLEA) Conference (2017 edition: Edinburgh; 2018 Edition: Hong Kong).
  • Member of the Board of the Passive House Institute New Zealand (PHINZ) (2017-ongoing).
  • Member of the Organising Committee and Peer Review Committee of the 7th World Alliance for Arts Education Conference, Auckland, New Zealand, 22-25 November 2017.
  • Reviewer for the Journal of Architectural Engineering, published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) (ISSN (online): 1943-5568; SJR 2016: 0.255) (2017-ongoing).
  • Member of the Cluster for Sustainable Cities, University of Portsmouth, UK (2017-onwards).
  • Reviewer for the 51st International Conference of the Architectural Science Association ANZAScA), Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 29 Nov - 2 Dec 2017.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Martinez-Molina, A., Boarin, P., Tort-Ausina, I., & Vivancos, J.-L. (2018). Assessing visitors' thermal comfort in historic museum buildings: Results from a Post-Occupancy Evaluation on a case study. Building and Environment, 132, 291-302. 10.1016/j.buildenv.2018.02.003
  • Bertagni, S., Boarin, P., & Zuppiroli, M. (2018). The Dialogue between Structural Interventions and Sustainability Criteria in Rating Systems for Cultural Heritage: The Experience of GBC Historic Building. International Journal of Architectural Heritage10.1080/15583058.2018.1511001
  • Belpoliti, V., Bizzarri, G., Boarin, P., Calzolari, M., & Davoli, P. (2018). A parametric method to assess the energy performance of historical urban settlements. Evaluation of the current energy performance and simulation of retrofit strategies for an Italian case study. Journal of Cultural Heritage, 30, 155-167. 10.1016/j.culher.2017.08.009
  • Castaldo, V. L., Pisello, A. L., Boarin, P., Petrozzi, A., & Cotana, F. (2017). The experience of international sustainability protocols for retrofitting historical buildings in Italy. Buildings, 7 (2), 1-21. 10.3390/buildings7020052
  • Martinez-Molina, A., Boarin, P., Tort-Ausina, I., & Vivancos, J. L. (2017). Post-occupancy evaluation of a historic primary school in Spain: comparing PMV, TSV and PD for teachers' and pupils' thermal comfort. Building and Environment, 117 (May 2017), 248-259. 10.1016/j.buildenv.2017.03.010
  • Boarin, P. (2016). Bridging the gap between environmental sustainability and heritage preservation: towards a certified sustainable conservation, adaptation and retrofittingof historic buildings. In J. Zuo, L. Daniel, V. Soebarto (Eds.) Revisiting the role of Architectural Science In Design and Practice 50th International Conference of the Architectural Science Association 7 – 9 December 2016, Adelaide, Australia. Proceedings, 675-684. Adelaide, SA, Australia: School of Architecture and Built Environment, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia. Related URL.
  • Boarin, P., Calzolari, M., & Davoli, P. (2016). New interventions in historical and consolidated urban contexts: low renovation processes for the valorisation of the patina of the time / Nuove dinamiche di intervento nel tessuto urbano consolidato: processi di low renovation per la valorizzazione della patina del tempo. Techne : Journal of Technology for Architecture and Environment, 2016 (12), 103-111. 10.13128/Techne-19341
  • Davoli, P., Belpoliti, V., Boarin, P., & Calzolari, M. (2015). Towards a systemic sustainability. An approach for the development and refurbishment at urban scale. In A. Falotico, N. Flora, F. D. Moccia, M. F. Palestino, S. Pone, F. Rispoli, M. Russo, S. Russo Ermolli, P. Scala (Eds.) Proceedings of the International Conference “Abitare Insieme / Living Together”, 1307-1318. Napoli, Italy: CLEAN. Related URL.