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, “Towards a New Urban Practice” begun in 2016.

Towards a New Urban Practice (2016 – onwards)

 tapa habitat en deuda6 web

OLA’s second phase of 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” was agreed by all member states. This research assessed the fulfillment of Habitat II commitments (1996-2016) in six Latin American countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.

The six country assessments were written by highly recognized researchers in each of these countries: Eduardo Reese and Andrea Catenazzi in Argentina, Edesio Fernandes from Brazil, Alfredo Rodríguez and Paula Rodríguez in Chile, Jorge Enrique Torres in Colombia, Fernando Carrión in Ecuador, and Alicia Ziccardi in Mexico. Their studies were presented at the University of Buenos Aires, and were published in the book: Habitat en Deuda: Veinte años de politicas urbanas en América Latina, published by Café de las Ciudades Editorial, along with chapters.

The program continues with an applied research project, Building Knowledge and Capacity for Inclusive Cities in Latin America, that will focus on how urban practice can be transformed to be more successful in reducing social exclusion in Latin American cities. It proposes to launch a new network of international collaboration with the Observatory on Latin America, six Latin American universities, local governments, and other interested universities and international partners. Stay tuned for more information on this project.

Contact the Editorial to buy the book Hábitat en Deuda

icon Download the introductory chapter to Habitat en Deuda (67.54 kB) (in Spanish)

icon Download the chapter on transversal findings (94 kB) (in Spanish)

More information on the Habitat Commitment Project in Latin America

Book launch at Habitat III side event in Quito


Urban Anticipations, Making Cities³ (2011-2015)

mosaicodyd 2016

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?