Dr Alexandre Apsan Frediani

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The Development Planning Unit conducts world-leading research and postgraduate teaching that helps to build the capacity of national governments, local authorities, NGOs, aid agencies and businesses working towards socially just and sustainable development in the global south. We are part of The Bartlett: UCL's global faculty of the built environment.



Development planner specialising in squatter settlement upgrading policies and participatory approaches to development. Areas of expertise include human development, housing, urban development, participation and Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach. His PhD explores different strategies to squatter settlement upgrading through the evaluation of projects from Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. As an output, the PhD proposes a methodology for assessing the impacts of slum upgrading programmes through the lens of Sen’s Capability Approach. Since then, Alex has focused on taking such ideas forward, by undertaking consultancies, action learning initiatives and research activities which have been concerned with examining the role of collective action in pursing wellbeing and justice in the urban global south.

In 2009, Alex conducted a consultancy for UNDP-Brazil using participatory methods for the assessment of needs in the 10 municipalities of lowest Human Development Indices in Brazil.

With Architecture Sans Frontieres – UK, Alex has been running together with ASF-UK colleagues workshops on participatory design which took place in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil (2009 and 2010), in Nairobi, Kenya (2011) and in Quito, Ecuador (2013). In each of such contexts, the workshop took place in partnership with local social movements and NGOs. In the case of Salvador, the workshop partnered with the Movimento dos Sem Teto da Bahia (MSTB), in Nairobi the partnership was established with the NGO Pamoja Trust and the social movement Muungano, and in Quito the local partners were the national confederation of neighbourhoods in Ecuador (CONBADE). The workshops produced a methodology on an integrated approach to participatory slum upgrading which is outlined in the Change by Design publications.

From 2009 to 2012, Alex run with the team of the MSc in Environment and Sustainable Development programme its practice module. A series of action learning initiatives were set up, which focused on environmental justice in open urban spaces in London and Accra, Ghana. In London, the work focused on the impacts of large scale planned interventions (i.e. the Olympics) in the use and appropriation of open spaces. Some outputs of such initiative can be seen in the Justice in the Green website: www.justiceinthegreen.org.uk. In Accra, the work focused on the actual and potential role of urban and peri-urban agriculture for supporting an environmentally just process of urbanisation.

Recently, that partnership with the ESD team has evolved into the initiative called the ‘Heuristics of Mapping Urban Environmental Change’, which consists of an action learning platform to examine processes and purposes of mapping. More information about this on-going initiative can be seen in the heuristics of mapping micro-website: www.bartlett.ucl.ac.uk/dpu/portlets/dpu/mapping-environmental-change.

Outcomes from Alex's initiatives are shared through publications but also through teaching in different Masters programmes, mostly focusing on the application of the capability approach and participatory methodologies to development in the urban context of the global south. Alex is a visiting lecturer on the post-graduate programme in Urban Infrastructure Design and Management of the University of Cape Town, Masters in Cooperation for Development of Universidad Politecnica de Valencia and Masters on Human Development and Food Security of Roma Tre University.

Research Summary

Main research interests include: 

  • housing and squatter settlement upgrading;
  • environmental justice in urban areas; 
  • urban resilience and livelihoods; 
  • deepening democratic practices through participatory approaches to research, planning, design and monitoring & evaluation;
  • Urban Regeneration and well-being
  • human development and the capability approach. 

Research outputs

O que tem que mudar no Brasil para a sua vida dar uma melhorada? 2009 Frediani AA
An Overview of Urban Thought: Inclusive Approaches, Environment and Infrastructure 2009 Frediani AA,Nunez-Ferrera I
Pode Mudar 2008 Frediani AA,Pellizzon G
Planning for Freedoms: The Contribution of Sen´s Capability Approach to Development Practice 2008 Frediani AA
Amartya Sen, the World Bank, and the Redress of Urban Poverty: A Brazilian Case Study 2007 Frediani AA
A Participatory Approach to Choosing Dimensions 2007 Frediani AA
Participatory Methods and the Capability Approach 2006 Frediani AA
The World Bank and Urban Policies, From Housing Sector to ‘Sustainable Cities' 2006 Frediani AA
previous 1, 2, 3

Research activities

Architecture sans frontieres - UK international workshops on participatory design
Global urban livelihoods project
Justice in the Green
Mapping social-networks for setting up a micro-credit project
Public consultation informing 2010 Brazilian Human Development Report
Urban settlements in high risk land: relocation, mitigation and prevention
Urbanisation Research Nigeria: Urban transport
Water & sanitation: Challenges and lessons in rapidly urbanising countries
Well-being of children with disabilities living in slums