MATERIA is an impact-driven real estate investor & developer focussed on urban regeneration, social infrastructure and housing across the Arab world and Africa

MATERIA realises Impact Investments that achieve financial returns and social benefits collaborating with world-class urban, social, financial and architectural practitioners. MATERIA’s projects establish economic and sustainable solutions conceived in distinction to the architectural and social context of each territory.

VISION: grow into the developer of reference for impactful real estate investments across the Arab world and Africa.

STRATEGY: achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns through the identification of supply-demand source imbalanced in real estate assets types, capital and information. Key principles:

  • Economic Efficiency: compelling financial returns and economic viability attracting private funding. For more info see Economic Sustainability and Financial Returns
  • Design and Construction Innovation: informing traditional techniques through modern building systems. For more info see Innovation
  • Foresight & Long-term View: focus on structural changes to address supply and demand misalignments
  • Value-add Management: advantages through on the ground presence, creating value through repositioning, restructuring, development, and intensive management. For more info see Team
  • Design Quality: collaboration with world-class urban design practitioners to challenge spatial practices that divides communities. For more info see Partners
  • Social Relevance: involvement and empowerment of local communities, use of local materials and workforce, enactment of sustainable practices and emphasis on public spaces. For more info see Responsibility

Our Approach derives from three key guiding principles: responsibility, innovation and foresight focussing on three investment strategies which provides a well-diversified exposure to the development dynamics of each territory:

Urban regeneration and development of large-scale urban neighbourhoods:

  • Responsibility: regeneration of urban areas denoting particular cultural, economic and social value through integrated socio-economical and physical renewal of the urban fabric
  • Innovation: project-led approach that aims to remove existing constraints, build on opportunities and improve social infrastructure creating a flexible framework for the local community to lead the change
  • Foresight: achieve long-term urban economic development that meets people’s social needs by promoting social inclusion and stronger communities and that guarantee long-term self-sustainable urban investments

Affordable and integrated housing communities addressing the needs of families and corporates alike:

  • Responsibility: creating sustainable, social and natural ecosystems through the use of local materials, collaboration with local communities and site-specific design to foster an atmosphere of social inclusion among residents of diverse cultural backgrounds
  • Innovation: novel financing structures to decrease the affordability threshold and highly innovative incremental design. Integrated masterplans around a core of social facilities, sustainable and inclusive guidelines for dwellings that set high standards of living
  • Foresight: income-generating assets for insurance companies, pension funds and institutional investors seeking local yield to match long-term liabilities

Schools, clinics, cultural and sports facilities forming the core of thriving communities. Key principles:

  • Responsibility: ensuring integration, sense of belonging and quality of common living
  • Innovation: relentless research on materials, climatic conditions and local living customs. Partnerships with DFIs (Development Finance Institutions) and other Partners to establish successfully and replicable ventures
  • Foresight: income-generating assets for impact investors looking to address the huge social infrastructure gap in the region

Management Team

MATERIA’s team deliver a comprehensive and holistic operational capabilities to support the growth of our projects. The management is based on the ground providing advantage in land sourcing, pricing, execution and risk management.

Lucio founded MATERIA in 2014 leveraging his experience at Goldman Sachs, Colony Capital and Abraaj Capital to establish a pan-regional impact-focussed development firm achieving financial returns as well as social and architectural benefits.

Lucio has over 15 years of experience in investing and developing properties in growth markets including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, U.A.E., Mozambique, Kenya, Tunisia as well as investment and advisory experience in developed markets including the U.S., UK, Germany and Italy. Lucio is also an expert in urban regeneration being involved in several master developments in historical centres protected by UNESCO.

Before founding MATERIA, Lucio was at The Abraaj Group, a growth market focussed private equity group with over USD 10 bn AuM, with responsibility for real estate investments in Africa and Middle East.

Prior to Abraaj, he was at Colony Capital in London, a USD 24 bn real estate firm, investing in value-add real estate assets across Europe. Before Colony Capital, Lucio worked at Bosse Development, a property developer focused on NYC.

Lucio started his career in 2004 at Goldman Sachs, London, in the Investment Banking Division advising multinational companies across Europe and the MENA region on M&A, corporate restructuring and IPOs.

Lucio holds a Mmus and a MA from Goldsmiths College, University of London, and a BSc from Bocconi University, Milan.

Roberto brings to MATERIA more than 25 years of world-class real estate development experience in emerging markets for organisation such as the Aga Khan Development Network, the World Bank, HCI International and Real Concept. Roberto has worked on several high-quality projects across Africa, Middle East and Asia and brings to the team the priceless ability to work efficiently under unfavourable conditions and within new local skills framework.

Babatope is responsible for the investment & development management of new opportunities. From deal sourcing, to due diligence and execution he is currently focussed on getting the MATERIA School Investment Vehicle off the ground.

Babatope is originally from Lagos and he holds a Master in International Management  & Sustainability from SciencePo in Paris, France.

Francis collaborates with MATERIA since inception on the back of a shared vision. He is an award-winning architect operating through his firm Kéré Architecture. He is widely considered as the reference figure for a new form of development for Africa and beyond. He counts among his accolades and prizes the Serpenting Gallery 2017, Aga Khan Architectural Award, the LafargeHolcim Sustainability Award, the Cartier Foundation award and his work has been exhibited at the MoMA in NYC, the Royal Academy of Arts in London and the Philadelphia Museum of Arts among others. He is also a tenured professor at Harvard University and founder of the Association Schulbausteine für Gando.

Francis is also an advisor to the Board of Directors at MATERIA.

Farah assists MATERIA with its day-to-day administrative and design matters, helping to coordinate specific tasks in the administration and graphic design work. Farah is passionate about Africa, and about social design on which she is preparing a doctoral thesis.

Farah is a graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Faculty of Design.

Construction MANAGEMENT

Thanks to his local presence MATERIA is able to establish experienced construction teams that direct and overview the works of sub-contractors. For each project local people are trained and integrated into the construction team to nurture skills and contribute to the long-term economic independency of local communities.


MATERIA collaborates with some of the world best-in-class architects, designer, financial practitioners, manufacturers, urbanist and social thinker to envisage creative and efficient solutions to local problems.

Kéré Architecture

Francis Kéré is an award-winning architect and the leading voice of African architecture and sustainable development. Among the prizes won by his work there are the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Global Holcim Award, Global Award for Sustainable Architecture and the BSI Swiss architectural award. His work has been featured in exhibitions at MOMA, the Royal Arts Academy in London, the Biennale of Venice, the Chicago Biennial and more. More recently, President Obama’s “Obama Foundation” selected him as chief architect for their school campus which is under development in Kenya.

Francis is a fellow of the Cartier and Holcim Foundations and teaches at Harvard University and Università della Svizzera italiana (USI).

Durabric (LafargeHolcim)

DURABRIC is LafargeHolcim’s affordable, low-carbon alternative construction solution developed in JV with CDC Group. DURABRIC addresses the rapid deforestation faced by many developing countries, caused by the use of burnt bricks as the main building material. DURABRIC is a compressed earth stabilized block made of local earth, sand, cement and water. Thanks to its cement content and specific mix design, developed in LafargeHolcim’s R&D center, DURABRIC does not require firing. Therefore, no firewood is needed in the manufacturing process! Compared to traditional burnt clay bricks, DURABRIC also offers better resistance to water, higher strength blocks, lower carbon emissions and a superior aesthetic finish; all using local materials.

Aga Khan Development network (AKDN)

Group of development agencies with mandates that include the environment, health, education, architecture, culture, microfinance, rural development, disaster reduction, and the promotion of private-sector enterprise and the revitalisation of historic cities.

African Leadership Academy (ALA)

African Leadership Academy seeks to transform Africa by developing a powerful network of over 6,000 leaders who will work together to address Africa’s greatest challenges, achieve extraordinary social impact, and accelerate the continent’s growth trajectory. MATERIA has already hosted two interns at its projects in 2017 and 2018 and other initiatives are being envisaged.

Metal Yapi

Leading façade and building envelope manufacturers, with a product range comprising bespoke unitized curtain wall systems, active and interactive intelligent facades with ventilation, all types of steel and glass systems, sun shading systems and metal cladding. Yapi is able to work around MATERIA’s unique design concepts offering high-quality materials and innovative structures.

Cultural Engineering

Cultural Engineering is a creative services outlet that provides a consultancy service in the fields of culture, entrepreneurship and creative spaces across the UAE, Middle East and North Africa.

Enko Education

Enko Education is MATERIA’s partner for the international school that was successfully developed in Mozambique. Enko is an Africa-wide network of international primary & secondary school, offering students across Africa with a launchpad to the world’s best universities.


One of the construction technology partner for MATERIA’s Affordable Housing platform. Expanded Polystyrene technology developed over years of experience in setting up large construction operations for large schemes in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

Pichler Engineering GmbH

Leading engineering firm operating since 1994 in planning, delivering, building and maintaining innovative engineering solutions. Customers include global energy suppliers, pipeline operators, construction firms as MATERIA as well as innovative industrial companies.


Community-based enterprise started by architect and environmentalist Allan Schwarz in 1994, pushing forward a model of inclusive sustainable design in central Mozambique. Mezimbite harvests indigenous noble hardwoods to produce high-quality furniture and other wooden artifacts. The enterprise is currently growing through a series of satellite communities based on the model of Mezimbite and collaborating with MATERIA in some of these.