The Impact Hub

Access to open data is important for a town like Loughborough, which boasts a diverse population of over 55,000 people. It plays a crucial role in fostering equal opportunities, improving outcomes for residents, driving economic growth, and reducing inequalities.

Through the Impact Hub, we are creating a sub-regional observatory using evidence and data to help policymakers and community leaders make informed decisions about the future of the town.

Collaborating with local communities and drawing upon national and international expertise, the observatory will collect and make open data about the town easily accessible, helping people to understand and make decisions based on visual information.

Working alongside local residents, community leaders, businesses, Charnwood Borough Council, Active Healthy Living and Connected Loughborough, the project will evaluate the effects of Loughborough Town Deal interventions, assess the wellbeing and strength of the town, and look into plans to reinvigorate the town centre and make improvements for the future.

The project will support collaboration and innovation around town and regional data and will help to ensure decisions affecting the town are informed by accurate information, community insights and evidence.

Datasets will be categorised into key themes, and in the future, we hope to share this information more widely to give people and groups from the public, private, and voluntary sectors an easier and direct way to find the information they need.

Our team

Robert Harland

Dr Robert Harland

Reader in Urban Graphic Heritage 

Robert's expertise covers the macro, meso, and micro dimensions at which people interact with urban places and spaces through graphic images in the context of urban heritage. Since 2018 he has led the Urbanism theme for the University’s Built Environment Beacon and is co-lead for The Impact Hub as part of the Healthy and Innovative Loughborough project. He has undertaken funded research with the Shanghai UNESCO City of Design, the United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. His research is guided by the question: How do graphic objects facilitate the function of cities and urban places? 

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Dr Falli Palaiologou

Dr Falli Palaiologou

Senior Lecturer in Urban Design 

Falli’s research focuses on the study of urban form through urban morphology and mapping methodologies, revealing the processes of urban change in a diverse range of settings from inner city residential typologies through to UNESCO heritage landscapes. She worked alongside Dr. Robert Harland to co-create The Impact Hub as part of the Healthy & Innovative Loughborough project. Falli is currently working with The Alan Turing Institute's Colouring Cities Research Programme (CCRP) and is in charge of coordinating data visualisation for Colouring Loughborough within CCRP's digital data platform, called Colouring Britain. Before this, she was a Research Fellow at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture at the Space Syntax Laboratory, where her work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

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Dr Asya Natapov

Dr Asya Natapov

Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design

Asya specialises in planning, spatial cognition, and complexity. Her research integrates physical properties of cities with cognitive processes of people, prioritising walkability and resilience. Specifically, Asya explores visual perception's impact on spatial memory, navigation, and emotional experiences. Using quantitative methods and virtual reality experiments, she maps urban spaces as navigational networks. Collaborating across disciplines, Asya bridges behavioural sciences, computation, and urban planning.  Her work has been published in high-impact journals, conference proceedings and books, presented at conferences and workshops and won competitive awards. She joined Loughborough University after EU Marie Curie fellowship at the UCL Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis.

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Dr Taimaz Larimian

Dr Taimaz Larimian

Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning 

Taimaz’s expertise sits within the field of urban studies and planning, with a key interest in social sustainability, sense of community, sustainable urban form and city branding. She has conducted interdisciplinary research with academics in the fields of Management, Social Sciences, and Energy Planning, resulting in publications in these areas. Outside of academia, Taimaz has worked for different planning consultancies and collaborated with city councils and community organisations in New Zealand and Iran. 

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Aline Fernandes Barata

Dr Aline Fernandes Barata

Research Associate in Urban and Regional Studies 

Aline works as a Research Associate in Urban and Regional Studies in The Impact Hub project, helping to develop the town observatory, identify the urban challenges and opportunities in Loughborough together with local communities and co-create proposals for the town. Aline has experience researching and teaching participatory planning, mobility justice, urban design, Tactical Urbanism and urban inequalities in the Global North and South. Previously, she worked as an Associate Lecturer and Research Associate at Oxford Brookes University, and as an Architect and Planning Assistant in Brazil.

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Mihyun Kim

Mihyun Kim

Research Officer in Spatial Data Science  

Mihyun is a Research Officer in Spatial Data Science for the Impact Hub. Her main role is to curate various spatial data and develop systemic strategies to improve Loughborough. Mihyun's focus is on how the shapes of various spaces reflect the appearance of modern society and the lives of public. Through spatial science, she aims to build a strategic data standard to support it. Previously, she was a Researcher at a national thinktank and an Adjunct Professor in South Korea. Mihyun is serving in an expert advisory role for Design Council, having been endorsed by the Royal Academy of Engineering.