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Department of Architecture


Dr. Isis Nunez Ferrera (University of Westminster)

This talk seeks to draw lessons from the Global South by exploring how urban dwellers shape the city in the context of urban informality, uneven development and the absence of the State. Drawing on assemblage theory, critical urbanism and ethnographic explorations in informal settlements across African and Latin American cities, the talk will debate on urban informality from a variety of perspectives. Firstly, from the lived experience and distributed agency of urban dwellers under conditions of scarcity, marginalisation and inequality; and secondly, through the situated political, distributional and spatial aspects producing and sustaining these conditions in the cities they inhabit. 

 This debate will be illustrated through visual and analytical tools in the form of ‘diagrammatic assemblages’ that allow for a dynamic representation of the nuanced, layered and complex spatial production of the informal city, while also providing key lessons with relevance to built environment practitioners, policy makers and urban dwellers shaping cities in both Global North and South.




Isis Nunez Ferrera is an architect and researcher specialising in urban planning, co-design processes and international development. Her experience includes over 10 years of research and practice on sustainable and inclusive urban development in Brazil, India, Nepal, Turkey, Kenya, Uganda, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, South Africa, Kazakhstan and the UK. Her current research is focused on exploring civic engagement and agency and its relation with the State across different contexts, including an ESRC-Newton Fund interdisciplinary project in South Africa on community-led upgrading ( 2016-2019), a British Council project on Citizen-led Urban Development in Kazakhstan (2016-2017) and a Cities Alliance research on Informal Governance Practices in Ugandan Cities (2016). She has received awards for her research on informal settlements and her capacity building work, including a Commendation for Outstanding PhD thesis by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and the UNESCO global youth leaders on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). She has also contributed to the first Global Expert Group for the UN-Habitat initiative on Urban Planning and Design LABs as tools for integrated and participative urban development, held in Barcelona, Spain in 2016.

Tuesday, 7 March, 2017 - 17:30 to 19:00
Event location: 
Boardroom, Department of Architecture