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This research recognises social movements, popular organisations and similar non-governmental institutional forms as important agents of social innovation and institutional creativity. This is particularly evident in the case of citizen movements in cities across the world, exploring alternative mechanisms for addressing issues of race, gender, and other forms of social exclusion, or, in the case of indigenous and peasant communities, inventing new forms of resistance against socio-environmental exploitation. In both cases, important experiences and knowledges are being produced, which are however often erased or ignored by academia.

Still from the documentary the “SAAL Operations”, focusing on a participatory housing program - the Local Ambulatory Support Service - implemented in Portugal between 1974 and 1976

This research group aims to develop new collaborations between architecture and social movements, and explores what approaches to design and research might emerge from considering their demands and knowledges. In the context of an increasing strain being placed upon traditional systems of political representation and the limitations of existing models of architectural research and practice, this research is both timely and important.

ADS7 visit to La Borda co-housing project in Barcelona

Some of the questions addressed by this research group are: What design, research, and practice methods have to be developed so that the spatial demands of social movements can be adequately described? What types of spatial knowledge are emerging from urban, territorial or environmental struggles today? How can architecture participate in more democratic and equitable processes for design and city making? What is the role of architecture within collective processes of transformative politics?

Further information

Bruna Montuori, ‘From Participation to Correspondence: Understanding the Role of Design in Community Development’. Supervisors: Dr Adam Kaasa and Dr Adrian Lahoud

Georgia White, 'Popular Organisation Support in Urban Regeneration Processes: A new type of Design Platform'. Supervisors: Dr Harriet Harriss and Dr Godofredo Pereira.

Raül Avilla Royo, ‘Community Architecture in Barcelona’. Supervisors: Dr Sam Jacoby and Ibon Bilbao (Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura de Barcelona)

Barcelona en Comú, Spain

Dr Susana Caló, Newham College