The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Opening the black box of peripheral urbanisation

13 November 2019, 5:30 pm–7:00 pm

Opening the black box of peripheral urbanisation

Planning, informality and the transversal logic in the production of urban land in Lima

Event Information

Open to



Rita Lambert


DPU Room 101
34 Tavistock Square

In the light that many cities of the global South are urbanising through auto-construction with processes that cut across categories, such as legal/illegal, formal/informal, state/non-state, this presentation seeks to unravel the relationship between planning and auto-constructed settlements and develop a transversal reading that brings to light the networks involved in stabilising this mode of urbanisation.

Focusing on the peripheral slopes of Lima, the lecture challenges the conceptualisation of  ‘informal’ urbanisation  as ‘outside’ or ‘a failure’ of planning but as produced and regulated within planning. Moreover, it is argued that peripheral urbanisation and planning need to be considered as socio-technical assemblages that have numerous and unexpected ways of interlinking. Unintended consequences, such as the production of risk, are outcomes of these assemblages.

To open up the black box of peripheral urbanisation and understand how and why this modality is enabled and sustained, a novel methodology is presented for bringing into view the processes, practices, alliances, and agency which are often invisible to policy makers, yet structure outcomes. Through an ethnography of cartographic practices, this lecture offers analytical and methodological insights into contemporary urbanisation processes across the Global South.

Speaker Bio
Dr Rita Lambert is an urban development planner originally from Ethiopia. She teaches at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, UCL and is a co-investigator on several research projects in Africa and Latin America. Her expertise lies in spatialising urban environmental trends and her research focuses on planning, informality and spatial knowledge production, manipulation and circulation. She undertakes action-research and capacity building with a particular interest on the co-production of knowledge through participatory methodologies to navigate institutional barriers and expand the room for manoeuvre of marginalised citizens towards socio-environmentally just urbanisation.

Commentators: Jenny Robinson and Adriana Allen


Photo credit @ Lima más arriba / Evelyn Merino Reyna