PROF Paolo Tombesi

PROF Paolo Tombesi





  • Trained as an architect in Italy, Paolo Tombesi joined the University of Melbourne in 1997 and was appointed to the Chair in Construction in 2009. Since then, he has also held visiting positions at the University of Reading (United Kingdom), University of Yale and University of Minnesota (United States), and the Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne - EPFL (Switzerland).
    The overarching concern of Professor Tombesi’s work is the relationship between the intellectual dimension of building and the socio-technical aspects of its physical construction. A former Fulbright Fellow, he has a PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles on the distribution of technical design knowledge in the building industry, developed by examining the construction of Frank Gehry’s buildings. 

    An international authority on the industrial organisation of architectural practice and the analysis of the building procurement process, Professor Tombesi employs industrial economics, labour theory and regional development models to examine the relationship between design, technological innovation, knowledge production and building markets. 

    Between 2005 and 2009, he was an Italian Government Research Fellow at the Faculty of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Turin as part of ‘Brain Return’, a national programme designed to build new research capacity in the country. In Turin, Professor Tombesi led a research group investigating the procurement of iconic public buildings in Italy and across Europe. 

    Since 2004, he has secured multiple competitive research grants and performed refereeing roles for several national research councils. In 2007 and 2010, he was appointed as built environment expert to the research assessment initiatives of the Australian Commonwealth. He has been working as a consultant for state and federal governments as well as the Royal Australian Institute of Architects o



Selected publications


Investigator on


Education and training

  • PhD, University of California - Los Angeles 1997
  • BArch, University of Rome La Sapienza 1990

Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, 2010
  • Excellence in Knowledge Transfer Award, The University of Melbourne, 2009
  • Sisalation Prize, Royal Australian Institute of Architects, with Blair Gardiner and Tony Mussen, 2005
  • Journal of Architectural Education Award for Outstanding Article, 2000
  • Italian National Research Council Award for Quality of Research, 1998
  • University of California Dissertation Year Fellowship, 1995
  • Gensler Fellowship for the Advancement of Professional Studies, 1994
  • Phi Beta Kappa Alumni International Scholarship Award, UCLA, 1994
  • 1991, 1992, 1993, Graduate Division Fellowship, UCLA, 1991
  • Fulbright Fellowship, USIA, 1990
  • Berkus Building Systems Research Fellowship, 1990
  • Erasmus Program Fellowship, EC, Paris, 1987


Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • Professor Tombesi supervises post-graduate research that deals with complex policy and integration issues in design and construction, analyses of the procurement process of completed institutional buildings or large reconstruction programmes, and historical reviews of building types or technologies.