The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Reflexive Development Practitioners: The 3rd Wave of the DPU/ACHR/CAN Internship Programme Launched

31 May 2016


Learning by doing is at the core of promoting socially minded development practices. As part of a long-standing partnership between the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights (ACHR), the Community Architects Network (CAN) and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), the DPU Alumni internship program aims to offer experience and on-the-job-training for junior development practitioners throughout Southeast Asia. This partnership is based on the shared institutional purpose of fostering people driven development while advocating for planning for socio-environmental justice. In this context, the internship program is one potent facet of the partnership and is envisaged as a collective learning process with the aim of encouraging knowledge sharing and innovation in development, grounded in the partners’ collaborative interventions and local experience. In particular, the 3rd wave of interns’ activities and reflections are framed by the ACHR/CAN aim of advancing an agenda of Citywide Upgrading in the region. The four selected interns will be working for six months at Openspace in Bangkok, Thailand and the Philippine Alliance (PACSII, HPFPI, TAMPEI, LinkBUild and CoreACS) in Manila and Cebu, Phillipines. Thus, this programme provides a unique experience for DPU alumni to cross-fertilise professional knowledge on grounded planning and design practices.

The inception workshop of the internship program was held during May 21st and 22nd in Bangkok. This collaborative event was participated by Somsook Bonyabancha, General Secretary of ACHR, Maurice Leonhardt also from ACHR, Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, CAN co-coordinator, Emelyn Bermundo from Philippine Alliance, Ploy Yamtree from Openspace, Catalina Ortiz, from DPU and the four new interns:

- Cindy Huang, who studied MSc Urban Development Planning and her professional background is in design, visual tools and community consultation. 

- Nausica Castanas, who studied MSc Environmental and Sustainable Development and her background is international relations and economics.

- Luisa Miranda, who studied MSc Building and Urban Design in Development and her professional background, is in geography, housing provision and humanitarian responses. 

- David Hoffman, who studied Msc Urban Economic Development and his professional background is in economic analysis, politics and visual participatory tools.

ACHR/CAN conceives Citywide Upgrading as a development project. This perspective entails triggering change from social mobilisation to policy influence grounded on the idea of ‘let the people be the solution’. In this perspective, Citywide Upgrading involves not only the physical realm but also the transformation of social capital, knowledge about the city, solidarity economy, and ultimate urban poor gaining political power to affect the decision-making processes. In sum, this approach links social processes of political negotiation and the transformation of the built environment. For this reason the third wave of interns will focus their reflections on the way in which their host institutions contribute to weaving social networks for negotiating a better living. The multiple projects where the interns are involved range from exploring social enterprise for promoting social housing and mapping citywide upgrading in Manila and Cebu, to community led transit-oriented development and public outreach about urban resiliency and climate change adaptation in Bangkok. The crosscutting dynamics that will be traced in the internship will include the mechanisms for collective learning processes and the creative flexible financing streams. In this way, the young professionals involvement on the ground will contribute to DPU's engagement with myriad explorations on people-centred development.