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Maria Aiolova

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Maria Aiolova
BornPlovdiv, Bulgaria
🏡 ResidenceNew York City
🏳️ NationalityAmerican
🎓 Alma materHarvard Graduate School of Design, TU Wien
💼 Occupation
Sustainable design, Smart city

Maria Aiolova is an urban designer, community builder and leader in interdisciplinary education, with a focus on the future development of cities worldwide.

Aiolova is a practitioner in ecological design, smart cities, sustainable urban infrastructure, water, transportation and waste. She co-founded Terreform ONE with Mitchell Joachim, an internationally recognized non-profit design group that promotes smart design in cities. She also created ONE Lab, [1] an experimental school that combines design and science in a singular curriculum as well as ONE Prize, [2] an international green design competition.

In Addition, Aiolova co-founded and managed Dark Matter Manufacturing (DaMM)[3] in the Metropolitan Exchange Building, a high tech collaborative space housing social entrepreneurs, educators, and businesses in disciplines ranging from biotech, robotics, architecture, and industrial design.[4] She was instrumental in the creation of the New Lab Beta community, a collaborative space that housed the initial members prior to the opening of the main New Lab community in June 2016.[5]

In 2012, Aiolova was recruited to work with CIEE where she created the Global Architecture and Design Program (Global AD) combining design and science in an instruction delivery model by calling upon the latest thinkers and practitioners in architecture, design, and engineering.[6] In the spring of 2014, she launched the first Global AD programs in three European Cities – Barcelona, Berlin and Prague. In 2015, she expanded the programs to the disciplines of Sustainability and Environmental Science and opened additional programs in Cape Town and Shanghai.

In 2013, Aiolova was a visiting faculty member at University of Applied Arts Vienna. From 2010 through 2011, she taught at Pratt Institute and Parsons the New School for Design. She has also been a visiting lecturer and critic at Harvard GSD, Columbia University, Cornell University, CUNY, Washington University, The Cooper Union, University of Toronto and Rhode Island School of Design. 

Prior to her work as an educator and futurist, Aiolova served as Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of ETEX Corporation (1996-2006), a bio-tech company in Cambridge, MA.[7] It is through this work, where Aiolova as an inventor, holds 18 technology patents.

Early Life[edit]

Aiolova was born in Plovidiv, Bulgaria. She comes from a family of scientists, industrialists and watchmakers. Her grandfather and his two brothers founded Brothers Aiolov Enterprise in 1933 and sold clocks bearing their name throughout Bulgaria. After the WWII, the communist government confiscated the business and all their property. The family was outcast as political dissidents. Her father, Dr. Luybomir Aiolov, (1940-2014) fought hard to overcome these obstacles and became one of the country’s leading urologists. Her mother, Veska Aiolova, is a biochemist. Both of them encouraged Maria to pursue her dreams, which led her to emigrate to the U.S.


In 2017, Aiolova was awarded the LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction[8] Award. She has been the winner of the Victor Papanek Social Design Award sponsored by the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, and the Museum of Arts and Design.[9] Her work has been the Official Selection of the Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition 2014.[10] She won the American Institute of Architects New York, Urban Design Merit Award for Terreform ONE, Urbaneer Resilient Waterfront Infrastructure, 2013.[11] Her design work has been exhibited at MoMA, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Netherlands Architecture Institute. Aiolova won the Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity for the project, New York City Resource & Mobility, [12] and Architizer A+ Award for Architecture + Communication, Bio City Map of 11 Billion.[13] Aiolova is an internationally recognized public speaker and was invited to deliver lectures and keynotes at Yale University School of Architecture[14], The Atlantic, Growing Cities; Forum on Sustainable Urbanization[15], and EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology[16] in Toronto. She has also served on the jury of many prestigious design competitions including eVolo Skyscraper Competition and the Laka Competition.


Aiolova received her M.Arch. in Urban Design from Harvard University,  B.Arch. from Wentworth IT with Honors, Dipl.-Ing. from the Technical University of Vienna, Austria and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Selected Publications[edit]

  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “The Heterodox Pedagogy: Hackerspaces and Collaborative Education in Design,” Arts, Research, Innovation and Society, Gerald Bast, Elias G. Carayannis, David F.J. Campbell (eds.), Springer, pp. 137-154.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Design as a Resource for All Recourses,” Futuristic: Visions of Future Living, Caroline Klein, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb (ed.), DAAB, pp. 242-249.
  • Semuels, Alana. “How to Stop Humans From Filling the World With Trash; Skyscrapers Made of Garbage,” The Atlantic , Jul/Aug.
  • Dunn, Nick, Cureton, Paul and Serena Pollastri. “Smart City Terreform ONE, Urbaneering Red Hook Brooklyn and Governors Island,” UK Government Office for Science, Crown, London, pp. 9, 64, 73.
  • Mitchell Joachim, Maria Aiolova and Melanie Fessel. "Smart Cities - Smarter Citizens" Baukulturatlas 2050.
  • Cities for Smart Environmental and Energy Futures: Impacts on Architecture and Technology, Stamatina Th. Rassia, Panos M. Pardalos (eds.), Springer, pp 23-53.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Terreform ONE, Regenerative Landscapes,” Regenerative Infrastructures: Freshkills Park NYC, Land Art Generator Initiative , Caroline Klein, LAGI (eds.), Prestel, pp. 29-30, 42-45.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Riparian Buffers Along Brooklyn Waterfront,” Next New York: A Sketchbook for the Future of the City , Christopher Beardsley, Daniel McPhee (eds.), The Forum for Urban Design/ Village Print, pp. 52-53.
  • “Building from Waste Recovered Materials in Architecture and Construction , Dirk E. Hebel, Marta H. Wisniewska, Felix Heisel (eds.), Birkhäuser, pp. 20-25, 164-165.
  • Low Carbon Cities: Transforming Urban Systems , Steffen Lehmann (ed), Routledge, pp.151-172.
  • The Idea of the Avant Garde - And What It Means Today, Marc James Léger (ed.), Manchester University Pres s, pp. 160-162.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Design as a Resource for All Recourses,” Futuristic Visions of Future Living, Caroline Klein, Prof. Dr. Stefanie Lieb (ed.), DAAB, pp. 242-249.
  • Myers, William (ed.). Bio Design: Nature + Science + Creativity, Thames & Hudson, The Museum of Modern Art, pp. 10, 58-61.
  • Amoroso, Nadia. Digital Landscape Architecture Now, Thames & Hudson. pp. 17, 242-247.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Brooklyn Urbaneering,” Design for the Real World REDUX, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, pp. 26-31.
  • William Myers, “ Design and Biology: A Unified Laboratory,” DOMUS, November 22, 2011.
  • Avinash Rajagopal, “ Collaboration Welcome,” Metropolis Magazine, November 15,2011.
  • Tom Stoelker, “ A Terreformed Summer,” The Architect’s Newspaper, August 31, 2011.
  • Molly Cotter, “ White Box present Sustainable Work Lab: Projects in Art, Architecture, & Urban Design,” Inhabitat, August 26, 2011.
  • “Zumtobel Award: Terreform ONE, Mitchell Joachim, Maria Aiolova,” Topos, p.8, Vol. 72.
  • Mitchell Joachim and Maria Aiolova. “Terreform ONE,” Future of the Future, Jaroslav Andel (ed.) Center for Contemporary Art, DOX, Prague, CZ.
  • Carlo Aiello, “Cities of Tomorrow: Terreform ONE,” eVolo, Vol. 03, Fall/Winter.


  1. ONE Lab
  2. ONE Prize
  3. Dark Dark Matter Manufacturing (DaMM)
  4. JED LIPINSKI, "On Flatbush Avenue, Seven Stories Full of Ideas", The New York Times, JAN. 11, 2011
  5. New Lab
  6. CIEE Global Architecture and Design
  7. ETEX Corporation
  8. "LafargeHolcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction Award".
  9. Victor J. Papanek Social Design Award
  10. Official Selection of the Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibition 2014 and OfficeUS Outpost of the American Pavilion
  11. American Institute of Architects New York, Urban Design Merit Award
  12. Zumtobel Group Award for Sustainability and Humanity in the Built Environment
  13. Architizer A+ Award for Architecture + Communication
  14. "Yale School of Architecture Material Light - Light Material Symposium".
  15. "Growing Cities: An Atlantic Forum on Sustainable Urbanization".
  16. "EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology".

External Links[edit]

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