Spring Break!!!

Last week unwanted Spring snow kept us from meeting.

This week, we’ll give our brains a proper rest for spring break.

Hope to see you next week!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Production of informal settlements through the agency of planning in the cities of the global south (The case of Miyanabad informal settlement, Tehran, Iran)

Please join us for lunch this Friday at 1pm in the Lang Building room 263 to hear Arman Fadaei, Iranian urban planner, PhD candidate from Politecnico di Milano and visiting researcher at Penn.

“Legal frameworks as the backbone of urban management and planning systems play a fundamental role in shaping urbanity. In this regard, the emergence of informal settlements of the global south is traceable in exclusionary legal frameworks of “land use planning and regulation”. The current models of urban planning implemented in the southern cities are mainly based on blueprint type master planning and a reference framework charting the overall configuration and direction of future urban growth. However these models have no been able to accommodate the rapid rate of urban growth in the cities of global south and have led to emergence of informal settlements which manifest inadequate conditions of living. My research is an attempt to detect the role of urban planning and its regulatory framework in production of informality.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Join us on 2/20, for a conversation with Susan Parnell from UCT

This semester Urban Sessions is exploring the relationship between universities and their surrounding communities- for better or for worse, domestically and abroad. This week’s conversation will include insights from Susan Parnell, a researcher and professor with the African Center for Cities at the University of Cape Town.


Susan Parnell’s early academic research was in the area of urban historical geography and focussed on the rise of racial residential segregation and the impact of colonialism on urbanisation and town planning in Sub-Saharan Africa. Since 1994 and democracy in South Africa her work has shifted to contemporary urban policy research (local government, poverty reduction and urban environmental justice). By its nature this research is not been purely academic, but has involved liasing with local and national government and international donors. Sue is also on the boards of several local NGOs concerned with poverty alleviation, sustainability and gender equity in post-apartheid South Africa. She serves on a number of national and international advisory research panels relating to urban reconstruction.


For more information on her writings and published work see her profile at ACC here.


We will be meeting from 1pm-3pm at 65 West 11th Street, Room 263. As always, food will be available. Bring your own coffee, insights, and questions.


See you then!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda 12/5, “Governing but not Producing: The Unfoldings and Blockades of Urban Redevelopment in Downtown Bogota” by Jose Antonio Ramirez

Jose is currently completing his PhD at Columbia University in Urban Planning.

Jose’s long-standing academic interests revolve around regimes governing in Latin American cities, with a particular focus on notions of urban development, planning knowledge, governance and citizenship, as well as practices of spatial segregations and urban displacement.  His current research focuses on the planning and implementation of urban redevelopment policies in downtown Bogotá.

Please join us for an interesting discussion and as always, a warm meal. We will be in 65 West 11th St. Room 102. Starting at 1pm.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Check out this great event from our sister organization Hub Up this Friday!!


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda Nov 21 – Chinese Sellers: A story of globalization as told by an informal market in downtown São Paulo by Douglas Piza

Here a summary about Douglas’s great work:

This paper shares the premise that globalization is a set of complex transnational phenomena that take place at specific sites, and seconds the proposition that an important part of contemporary globalization is the intersection of two international fluxes, namely those of people and goods. It seeks to explore migration from a mobility paradigm perspective, and takes the case under study as a strategic research site for the investigation of how globalization shapes spaces.

Based in an ethnography made between 2009 and 2012, it seeks to answer how was possible a mass of Chinese migrants to become the majority of sellers in downtown São Paulo’s popular market in the last two decades. I argue that the recent massive arrival of Chinese migrants in that area was possible due to emergence of popular shopping malls whose majority of proprietors is comprised of Chinese migrants arrived at Brazil in the 1950s and 1960s. It is true that significant recent flow of migration occurs at a time of reactivation of the Chinese diaspora around the world in the wake of the effects of Chinese industrialization, economic and political reforms. However, it was the Chinese migrants of the previous flow that could become importers of products made in China, which abound in downtown São Paulo markets, partially displacing the supply chain of products that previously passed through Paraguay. There are more recently arrived Chinese sellers than importers and owners of galleries, but only the latter two types had a “transnational condition” that allowed them to legally open their businesses and, through social networks, connect themselves to the other side of the globe. Therefore they alter the scale of the trade practiced by engendering a new kind of sales: popular shopping malls full of Chinese merchants who sell products directly from the Asian country.

The paper discusses the role of social networks in transnational migration in two different ways. First, it reveals the tensions of the interaction between two distinctive flows of Chinese (1950s-60s and 90s-00s) in a spectrum that ranges from full ethnic solidarity to quasi-slavery. Second, it pays special attention to the connections between Chinese in São Paulo and in their country, interpreting the juxtaposition and singularities of diaspora and mercantile circuits.

As always we meet on Fridays for lunch (it is on us) from 1-3pm in 65W 11th Street, Room 102!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda Nov 14 – Join us for a talk with Juan Reyes on Urban policy and Education

Juan is a M.A. student in Education Policy at Teachers College – Columbia University. He holds a major in economics and a minor in history from Los Andes University in Colombia. Prior to coming to New York he worked for the Colombian Ministry of Education where he contributed to the definition of the nascent early childhood education policy. Among his most notable responsibilities he designed and led a Fund for the provision of early childhood education in partnership with more than 700 municipalities of the country. He has experience also policy analysis and school improvement. During the last year he worked as a research assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College reviewing early childhood policies in several countries in Latin America. His interests start in early childhood policy but extend to the whole educational system. He is interested in a broader extent in other topics such as international development, poverty alleviation and human development.

Joins us for a discussion with Juan this Friday, Nov 14, from 1-3pm at 65W 11th Street, Room 102!!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda Nov 7 – Amenawon Solar School

In this week’s session, Anze Zadel, PhD Milano student and architect, will  share his experience with the Amenawon Solar School in Lagos, Nigeria.

Here an excerpt of what the project is about:

“We seek to address challenges facing Lagos-dwellers through the development of a sustainable compound. Working with tenants in the compound’s building, the Amayo family, and community members in the neighborhood of Ikeja, the project plans to develop a rainwater harvesting system to produce potable water and a green roof that will provide open space and the opportunity to cultivate food; and retrofit the building with solar panels to provide reliable electricity and replace inefficient energy-based generator use. It will eventually seek to address the sewage problem with compound-scale solutions such as compost toilets and neighborhood-scale solutions such as filtering plants and energy production from biowaste.”


Join us for lunch and to learn more about this incredible project Friday Nov 7, from 1-3pm in 65 W11th Street, Room 102!

For more info, visit their website: http://amenawoninitiative.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/24/

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda 31/10: Improving the consensus on government efforts to transform cities in emerging economies

Milano Professors Robert Buckley, Michael Cohen, and Margarita Gutman participated last week at a conference in Bellagio, organized by the Rockefeller Foundation and The New School regarding government efforts to transform cities in emerging economies, particularly the so‐called
 Ethiopia. Keynote speakers from the respective countries presented current programs; including success stories and challenges.

Among the issues that were discussed are:

  1. The
  2. The
  3. Subsidy Form and Targeting
  4. Understanding and Planning for Urban Expansion

Moreover outcomes and challenges of such programs, as well as risk mitigation methods, knowledge management and communication, and new low-income / slum improvement initiatives were discussed as well.

We invited the three professors to join us for an informal discussion over lunch (provided by us) about the outcomes of the conference.

Join us for this exciting discussion from 1:30pm – 3pm in 66 west 12th street, Room 518!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Agenda for 10/17 Meeting

For next week’s meeting, we should all have at least one idea of what to do with the Robert Neuwirth space. This is an artist space in Bed-Stuy that has hosted events such as PopUp Shop where artists and creators emulated an informal market and functioned without the use of hard currency. We would like to help put on an event in this space that takes our theories, thoughts, passions, and interests and puts them into practice. Taking the laboratory out of the classroom and into the city.

This shouldn’t be a difficult task to cause stress, it should be something you are interested in doing and related to a topic you care about. It does not need to be original either, if you have an example real or imagined that will help the process!
We plan to spend next Friday in our usual space, 65 West 11th (in the room behind the security guard) working out the details of an event we will have in Bed-Stuy at Robert’s space. This will be in conjunction with HubUb folks and hopefully some people from outside our program/school/etc.
The goal is to have a well-formed idea of what we want to do and an understanding of the steps that needed to be taken in order to execute this idea. So please come with some ideas on themes, areas of interest, and/or project examples. Also, bring an appetite because we had far too much leftover today.

Happy Friday!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized