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Dr. Adriana Laura Massidda

Dr. Adriana Laura Massidda

Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales (Buenos Aires)

King's College non-resident member


Adriana Laura Massidda is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Regionales (CEUR/CONICET, Buenos Aires, Argentina), were she is developing a project on spatial agency, gender and socio-ecological transformations in 1967-1972 Buenos Aires shantytowns, with a particular focus on infrastructure. After five years practising as an architect, Adriana completed her PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge (King’s College/Department of Architecture) in 2016, which constituted a historical enquiry into the social co-production of space in Buenos Aires shantytowns during 1958-1967. Adriana has taught in University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Buenos Aires and the University of Flores. She received her architectural degree from the University of Buenos Aires. 

Research Interests

My current research looks at the roles of human agency, gender, religion and cultural identity in Buenos Aires shantytowns during the period 1967-1972. In particular, I analyse the ways in which different collectives experienced and transformed urban space, and how these processes affect current understandings of the informal. My research brings archival materials to light for the first time, both written and graphic. These are complemented with oral history, which is crucial for understanding those historical processes which have been incompletely (if at all) recorded in written form.

My present research expands on topics initially addressed during my PhD, where I analysed the urban transformation of South West Buenos Aires from 1958 to 1967 through the interaction of different shantytown residents’ and local government actors. A floodplain close to the city centre, the South West remained undeveloped until the 1950s, becoming a crucial site for shantytown expansion. 

My interest in recent history stems from the conviction that understanding the ways in which spaces change over time is essential to grasp the complexity of current problems. Thus, in a moment of rapid transformation and state intervention within Buenos Aires shantytowns, my research is not only informing public policy but also allowing residents to narrate their histories in detail. These testimonies cross generational and formal/informal boundaries. I am also a trustee and online curator for the London-based architectural collective Caravanserai, where we explore these issues in a global context.

Key Publications

'Design Exchanges in Mid-Twentieth Century Buenos Aires: The Programme Parque Almirante Brown and its Process of Creative Appropriation', Journal of Design History (2017). 

'Utopian Visions for Buenos Aires Shantytowns: Collective Imaginaries of Housing Rights, Upgrading and Eviction (1956-2013)'. Bulletin of Latin American Research (2017). 

'Grassroots Agency: Participation and Conflict in Buenos Aires Shantytowns Seen through the Pilot Plan for Villa 7 (1971-75)'. AMPS: Architecture_MPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) 12/4 (2017). 

'Negociaciones, permanencia y construcción cotidiana en villas (Villas La Lonja, Cildáñez y Castañares, Buenos Aires, 1958-1967)'. Revista urbana, 9/1 (2017). 

'Autoconstrucción, participación y agencia. Una revisión del Plan Piloto para Villa 7 y las iniciativas ATEPAM en Buenos Aires'. Carta Económica Regional, 29/120, 105-130 (2017). 

'Mapping the Suburbs: Cartographic Representations of Villa Celina, Buenos Aires, 1955-2011'. New Suburban Stories, ed. by Martin Dines and Timotheus Vermeulen (London: Bloomsbury-Continuum, 2013).

'The Plan de Emergencia (1956): Housing Shortage in Buenos Aires Then and Now'. Scroope Journal Nr.21 (2012). University of Cambridge – Department of Architecture.