Accessibility statement

Alessandra Sprega

Research project

Thesis title: Between two floods. Local Flood Culture to build resilience: The case of the historic centre of York.

Supervised by Gill Chitty and co-supervised by Louise Cooke

Description of the research 

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or fires have had a great impact on the history of mankind, influencing our traditions and customs and shaping our collective memory. Apart from communities, natural hazards threaten cultural assets and entire historic urban contexts.

However, established approaches to Disaster Risk Management (DRM), characterised by a technocratic and hierarchical response to an external risk, have not been wholly effective and in the recent decades, an alternative approach has emerged, introducing of the concept of resilience, the intrinsic capacity of a community or system to quickly recover and adapt to external hazards.

My PhD research fits into this paradigmatic shift and it aims to investigate ways to enhance community and cultural assets resilience analysing as principal case study the historic centre of York.

In order to mitigate the impact of the flooding and to preserve vulnerable heritage, it is necessary to enhance the notion of ‘living with risk’ within the community affected. This PhD research explores how digital resources such as GIS and 3D models can be used to engage and increase community awareness and to integrate local ‘flood culture’ – how people understand, respond and adapt to flooding - in long-term planning and mitigation measures.

The research is part of a joint initiative, Resilient York, between the University of York and York Civic Trust. The objective is to inform and involve York citizens and practitioners to create a more resilient historic city to cope with the threat of flooding.

Useful Link- Mapping York Resilience



Alessandra received a BA and MA in Architecture and Restoration from the University of Roma Tre (Rome) in 2011. She participated in international research projects with the University of Roma Tre and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP) into the seismic reinforcement of traditional earthen building.

She is a conservation architect qualified in Rome and ARB registered, she obtained her second Master’s degree in Conservation Studies at the University of York and she has been awarded the WRoCAH studentship to undertake a PhD in Conservation Studies by the Department of Archaeology at York.

Her PhD research is focus on assessing the resilience of the historic environment and the built heritage as a result of flooding specifically in York through digital methods.

She is working as a conservation architect and project architect alongside her PhD Studies. In addition to architecture she is skilled in traditional and photogrammetric survey of historic buildings.



2016- 2017 Teaching assistant - Buildings Survey and Applied Buildings Survey

2017- 2018 Teaching assistant - Buildings Survey and Applied Buildings Survey 

Conferences and Publications

Conferences and Publications

Speaker at the 19th ICOMOS General Assembly & Scienti c Symposium “Heritage and Democracy”. Delhi (INDIA)

Speaker at the ICOMOS Annual General Assembly and Advisory Committee “Post-disaster reconstruction”.  Istanbul (TURKEY)

Speaker at the Resilient York conference. York (UK)

Poster at Terra 2012, 11th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architecture Heritage. Lima (PERU)

Izalco. El Salvador. ‘Curso de restauración urbana’
Zampilli M., Sprega A. In Architecture of Earth Heritage and Sustainability in Seismic Regions. Tierra SIACOT San Salvador, El Salvador 24 and 28 November 2014.

‘Fichas para la reparación de viviendas de adobe’
Neumann J.V., Sprega A. Editor: Ministerio De Vivienda Construcción y Saneamiento Peru. Link at

Chapters in ‘El centro historico de Izalco’
Aguilar J., Canciani M., Zampilli M. Editor IILA (ROME) 

Contact details

Alessandra Sprega
Department of Archaeology
University of York
The King's Manor

Tel: (44) 1904 433931
Fax: (44) 1904 433902