Julia completed her PhD, Tools to Create Agency: the Craft of Commoning with Supervisors Professor Doina Petrescu and Professor Renata Tyszczuk. This was activist design-research into how, in the context of gentrification and loss of affordable space for small-scale industry and making in UK cities, communities can come together to safeguard their spaces in ways that are just, equitable and resilient.
In exploring the case of Portland Works, she proposed that through the co-design of a number of tools, social, political, democratic and pedagogical agencies can be achieved that can support common ownership, and the sharing and development of such resources. Julia initiated (together with a fantastic and diverse group of makers and others) the campaign to save the birthplace of stainless steel from speculative redevelopment, which resulted in the purchase by over 500 shareholders, to retain it as a place of making. As an active member of group from 2009, she helped to lead the process of setting up an Industrial and Provident Society, partaking in writing the business plan and form the governance structure, and in the subsequent development for community benefit. She developed a number of business skills during this period, including around how successful organisations operate.
Julia Udall was the Postdoctoral Research Associate on the AHRC Connected Communities large grant project, ‘Stories of Change’, which investigated energy and industry, past, present and future, working across a number of factory sites in the Don and Derwent Valleys. Using scenario making and storytelling this project sought to engage communities to support agency in relation to energy transitions.
Julia Udall is a fellow of the Future Architecture Platform (2021), for the collaborative project, Sonic Acts of Noticing, a prototype of a pedagogical tool to explore listening as critical spatial practice. This project explores how such practice might alter subjectivities and produce space in ways that emphasise care, and shared learning as crucial for collaborative survival.