From 2012 ⸻

Our story

Urban Symbiotics applies a user-centric approach to placemaking, exploring the use of insight to inform and innovate design.

This is a design process which ‘comes from the world of product design, where the user is placed front and centre of the design of human environments’ with the belief that ’we can innovate by understanding more and to help us provide more suitable environments for 21st century lifestyles’.

The pairing of founding members – a socially-led urban designer and architect with a product designer, allows them to see placemaking as a chance to provide a truly multi-disciplinary environment focused on meeting the needs of its user.

Made with love ⸻
Tailored design and participation.

Founders and and Directors 

Stephanie Edwards | Socially led Urban Designer & Architect

Stephanie focusses on delivering social value through a variety of project types and scales to facilitate the building of inclusive, equitable and progressive communities.

Stephanie with Urban Symbiotics has been recognised by the Design Museum and the London Festival of Architecture for creating ‘architecture for a new generation’, an Inspire Future Generation award winner for community engagement for the town centre masterplan in Swaffham and has been longlisted by the RIBA MacEwen 2021 awards for community endeavours targeting improvements for local communities, specifically for her work in her reimagining of the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton. In 2019 she was nominated for a h100 architecture and design award. She is leading on a Regeneration Framework for Purley in Croydon for Croydon Council, working on the Gascoigne Estate in Barking and Dagenham, and in Nigeria as part of the UN Habitat’s Global Future Cities Programme.

Stephanie graduated from the Architectural Association in 2010, and worked at OMA before establishing Urban Symbiotics in 2018 with product designer James Stewart. She was a Board member for Architecture Lobby, an advisory group member for the UK Built Environment Advisory Group (UKBEAG) and was previously an elected Council member of the RIBA. Stephanie was celebrated as a ‘force for change’ alongside Baroness Lawrence in Vogue’s seminal September 2019 issue, and for ‘building mindful cities’ by The Financial Times in a profile (Sept 2020).

James Stewart| Community Engagement Specialist & Product designer

With a background in user research and product design James co-founded Irban Symbiotics and now uses his multi-discipline experience to lead the engagement and multidisciplinary placemaking team.

Being both an user experience and design specialist James understands how to unite stakeholders, community, and design teams into a unified, collaborative approach. This approach, having been honed with over 20 years in the industry has been proven to deliver innovative design outputs that are championed by community, stakeholders, and professionals alike. Since Co-founding Urban Symbiotics, James has become an advocate for equality diversity and inclusion both in his ethos and practice and delivers workshops on inclusive approaches in design and communication. His work with Urban Symbiotics reflects this which was also recognised by the RIBA MacEwen 2021 awards for community endeavours – an award for work that targets improvement for local communities with his work with the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton

Diana Phiri Witty | Regeneration and community co-design specialist

Diana is a designer with a background in architecture and urban design. Architecture opened up a number of career options and

following her studies she worked in urban design, design research and community engagement roles in the UK, Malawi and South Africa.

Before joining Urban symbiotics Diana was a regeneration manager for Haringey council. Over the years Diana has worked with architects on large scale estate and public realm regeneration projects, and delivered engagement and co-design programmes that empowered local residents to understand and influence local planning policy and regeneration programmes.

Diana has also worked as a planning officer and has developed a deep understanding of how policy, design and community intrinsically linked together. Dianas’ passion for co-design has been a constant and remains her focus as she leads on co-creation at Urban Symbiotics.