Design and Development

mosaicodyd 2016

OLA's Design and Development program is the site of multidisciplinary, transnational, and networked research and advocacy in the field of design and social development, with a particular emphasis on urban policy. There have been two main multi-year projects in this program. The first phase, "Urban Anticipations, Making Cities³" spanned from 2011 to 2015, and the current one, "Assessing Progress on the Habitat Agenda" will work from 2016 to 2021.

Assessing Progress on the Habitat Agenda (2016-2021)

OLA's second project on the Design and Development program began activities with a six-country applied research agenda on institutional development and policy that aims to strengthen accountability and policy impact of the Habitat III United Nations Conference (Quito, October 2016), where the "new urban agenda" will be agreed by all member states. The objective of this research is to assess the fulfillment of Habitat II commitments (1996-2016) by six Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico, as well as accompany the Habitat III implementation process. Taken together the findings from these six country assessments help identify key crosscutting challenges and individual country priorities for urban policy in Latin America in the face of the new commitments to be established for the next two decades (2016-2036).

The topics under review in the critical assessments developed by OLA's leading independent consultants and research institutions in each of these countries are:

  1. Adoption of national urban policies, including prioritizing urban issues in national development and macro-economic policies, and strengthening urban governance, including identifying inter-governmental roles, urban planning, urban finance, citizen participation, and access to information;
  2. Strengthening the sustainability of urban areas, particularly mitigation of exacerbating urban effects on climate change and resilience of communities and urban areas;
  3. Improving access to affordable urban shelter and urban infrastructure services including water, sanitation, electricity, solid waste and management;
  4. Improving the productivity of urban economic activities and thereby generating employment and incomes;
  5. Reducing urban poverty, intra-urban inequality and social exclusion, including discrimination based on gender, race, and ethnic or regional origin; and
  6. Assuring more equitable, dense, and efficient urban form to generate employment, reduce energy consumption and infrastructure-intensive spatial development, as well as negative impacts on climate change and the environment.

OLA commissioned and coordinated these studies to six leading researchers in each of these countries. Below, a brief description of the profiles of these experts. You can also find here a summary of each of these six papers, published as part of the Habitat Commitment Project.


Eduardo Reese and Andrea Catenazzi- Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales - CELS (Argentina)
Eduardo Reese is an architect who specializes in urban and regional planning. He is a Director of CELS, the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales in Buenos Aires. He is a professor of urban management at the National University of General Sarmiento. Mr. Reese was technical advisor for the master plans of more than 20 cities in Argentina; Secretary of Socioeconomic Policies, Ministry of Human and Social Development of the Province of Buenos Aires; advisor to the Council of Urban Planning of the City of Buenos Aires; and Secretary of Planning in the city of Avellaneda.

Andrea Catenazi is a professor at the National University of General Sarmiento, and an expert in metropolitan management. Ms. Catanazi has work extensively on issues related to gender, urban poverty, and urban inequality.

Edesio Fernandes (Brazil)
Edesio Fernandes is a Brazilian jurist and urban planner who works as a lecturer, researcher, writer, and legal consultant internationally. He is a professor of Urban Studies at the Development Planning Unit of the University College, London and a founder and coordinator of IRGLUS - an International Research Group on Law and Urban Space, which is a partner of UN-HABITAT, as well as a Working Group of the Research Committee on the Sociology of Law of the International Sociological Association. Dr. Fernandes is also the former Director of Urban Land at the Ministry of Cities of Brazil.

Alfredo Rodriguez - Corporación de Estudios Sociales y Educacion - SUR (Chile)
Alfredo Rodríguez, a Chilean architect, has been researcher and consultant at SUR Corporación de Estudios Sociales y Educación since 1978, and transitioned to being the Executive Director in 1992. He is also the coordinator of RIADEL, a network focused on local development research initiatives in Latin America. Mr. Rodriguez was the Urban and Regional Development Committee Coordinating Secretary of CLACSO, the Latin American Council of Social Sciences, and professor at the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, at the Catholic University of Chile. Together with his daughter Paula Rodriguez he recently published a book on Chile's housing policies, called "Subsidies but No Rights."

Jorge Torres - Centro de Estudios de Construcción y Desarrollo Urbano y Regional Cenac (Colombia)
Jorge Torres is an economist with a specialization in Land Policy and Markets. Since 1974 he has been researcher and since 1995 Executive Director of the Centro de Estudios de la Construcción y el Desarrollo Urbano y Regional, CENAC, an organization chaired by Colombia's leading universities, the Ministry of Housing and the geographic institute, IGAC. Researcher and consultant in territorial planning, urban development, urban indicators, housing deficit, poverty, housing and habitat quality evaluation, and market sector studies. Mr. Torres has been consultant for IDB, UNDP, UNHABITAT, USAID, GTZ, the government of Colombia, among others.

Fernando Carrión - Flacso (Ecuador)
Fernando Carrion is the Coordinator of the Studies Program for the City at FLACSO‐Ecuador – the Latin American Sciences Institute. He is President of the Latin American and Caribbean Historical Centers (OLACCHI). In addition, he is a Counselor at the Metropolitan District of Quito and columnist for the newspaper Diario Hoy. His areas of expertise are historical centers, safety in cities, urban policies, local development, urban development and planning policies.

Alicia Ziccardi - PUEC - UNAM (Mexico)
Alicia Ziccardi is a researcher at the Institute for Social Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), and the Director of the University Studies City Program of UNAM. She is also a member of the National System of Researchers and the Mexican Academy of Sciences and a professor of the Graduate Faculties of Political Sciences and Architecture. She further acts as the coordinator of URBARED, a network of urban social policy makers, and member of the Social Economic Council of Mexico City. Dr. Ziccardi is the author and coordinator of several books and journal articles on urban poverty, social exclusion, social urban policy, citizen participation, governance and development of local governments.


Urban Anticipations, Making Cities³ (2011-2015)

In a highly innovative institutional and geographical framework, university research teams from the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, the University of Buenos Aires, and The New School in New York City decided to undertake a collaborative research project in the field of design and social development. These research teams came together in a time of economic crisis in the US (2008-2011), and recognized the economic crises in Thailand (1997-1998) and Argentina (2001-2002). Now is a time when old paradigms and frameworks have been disproven and there is an active search for new approaches.

The group attempted to identify the footprints of the future in the present city – signs likely to indicate the direction of change such as innovative forms of practice, at different levels and scales – whether at the neighborhood or city level. The objective of this activity was to explore what could be gained by working together from different disciplines. By looking at cases on the ground, the research teams from Argentina, Thailand and The United States improved current understanding of the city by identifying possible innovative ways to see urban phenomena, and developing venues for building understanding of the relationships between design, social science and technology. This research took place in three points around the globe in a time of flux and uncertainty about the future.

This research project worked in three cities: Bangkok, Buenos Aires, and New York, simultaneously, using non-traditional approaches from social science, history, and design. Through the analysis of similarities and differences across cities from the different disciplinary perspectives, the project focused not primarily on the disciplines themselves but rather on how to build a common language through which to work in the intersection of design and social science. This initiative built upon what social scientists, historians and designers identified as innovative, what they observed, how they observed, and, in the end, what do they considered as important?

Ultimately, the project seeks to discover what language can help connect the different perspectives. Is this possible? Is this productive? Are there theoretical or empirical advances or results?

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