Photo of Julian Castillo

About Julian and his work:

“I’m a strategic designer at PRO, an architecture and urban design and research studio I founded. During my time at PRO, I have been involved in projects related to civic participation to improve public spaces and decision making; tactical urbanism as means to transform the built environment quickly and collaboratively; urban ecology by integrating food gardens in urban environments; recreational parks in ravines to connect citizens with natural ecosystems; water management by implementing concepts of sponge cities which improve rainwater absorption to replenish the aquifers and manage stormwater; sustainable mobility by adapting streets to diversify options for cyclists and pedestrians; waste management by promoting compost and separation of recyclables; and modular housing by creating architectural and structural systems to satisfy custom needs. 

I’m driven by continuously seeking answers to the following question in every new or existing endeavor: How con we improve the quality of life for our society by changing the ways in which we nourish ourselves, connect with each other, and inhabit this planet?”

Julián Castillo Holzheu

Architect | PRO

Program Interview

Julian Castillo was a participant in the first-ever offering of Building Future Cities: How to Go Net-Zero by 2030 with us this past spring. We spoke with him a few months later to see the impact the program had.

How did you hear about the program, and why did you decide to attend?

My practice is focused on urbanism, architecture and projects related to the sustainable development of cities, so I am always eager to learn more about ways cities are being transformed and rapidly changing. A friend recommended this program to me as an opportunity to continue developing my skills in these topics and as a window into what future cities might be like.

What impact has the program had on you since you attended?

This program has motivated me to look at other Harvard programs that examine the past, present, and future of urban environments, a topic I am fascinated with. It has served as an inspiration for further involvement and discovery of city projects and ways to positively impact the urban environment.

How was the online learning experience?

I really enjoyed being a part of a diverse online group, in a live learning environment. Having the opportunity to interact and connect with other participants interested in similar topics opened up many possibilities to learn and collaborate.

The Graduate School of Design “educates leaders in design, research, and scholarship to make a resilient, just, and beautiful world.” As a GSD program participant, how do you view your own work connecting to this mission?
I’m a curious professional and leader that identifies problems and opportunities to collaborate with others and generate projects through creative processes. I enjoy using my design abilities to contribute to a better world, starting small within my community and city, and with a broad perspective among other cities and people around the globe.

The climate crisis seems to become more urgent by the day. How do you view programs such as this one contributing to global solutions to this crisis?
I think as humans we have the capacity to imagine and co-create the world we want to live in. If we are able to sum up our abilities we can generate the conditions for a prosperous and abundant world, where everyone can have access to basic needs and live in harmony with themselves and the surrounding environment. These programs start the conversation and facilitate the connection among diverse personalities toward this goal.