The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Palermo - Un-Layering Identities

4-9 September 2017. In collaboration with: Sharon Ambrosio and Deborah Navarra (urbanita); Scuola Politecnica, University of Palermo

Palermo summerLab

Palermo has a strategic role within the European context and the Mediterranean one as a while, with well-established socio-economic relations towards the African continent and Middle-East countries. Through its urban fabric, the city shows reminiscences and traces of past dominations, diverse cultures, populations and religions.

Its Greek name, ‘Panormos’, can be literally translated as ‘all port’: Palermo has always been a fundamental commercial exchange junction for the local population, and acquired strong inter-cultural features which are still present nowadays and strongly characterise its identity. The urban historical centre hosts contradictions originating from such character, and emerging on the background of an incredible beauty and fascinating decadence.

During the last decade the city has undergone strong transformations due to the uneven agencies of, on one side, the global financial crisis and the increasing influx of migrants and refugees and, on the other side, of a new municipal administration which is keen to foster (and engage with) an increased sense of awareness, responsibility and belonging amongst the citizens. This multifaceted reality is by now embodied in the economic, social and political contexts, and certainly plays a role of utmost importance in shaping the city’s future. To date, various actions have been undertaken to embrace, celebrate and build upon such complexity: for instance, Palermo has been awarded the role of Italian Capital of Culture for 2018, will participate to the European Biennale of Contemporary Art, Manifesta 12. Such initiatives will certainly have an impact at the urban scale, and represent an opportunity to challenge the current urban dynamics and relations of power amongst different actors.

Participants will work along with urbanita in order to uncover such multi-layered and contested identities and dynamics which partake into the (physical and discursive) construction of today’s Palermo. We will explore, analyse and represent how such dynamics are complexly interwoven at different scales and times, locally and trans-locally, and juxtaposing elements of both permanence and temporariness. Participants will explore the current tangible and intangible relations between migrants, ordinary citizens, activists, authorities, investors, with whom the summerLab will engage deliberately. Revealing and representing the current urban dynamics will indicate potential room for manoeuvre for the construction of an inclusive and open vision of urban transformation.

Click here to download the application form or write to us at dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk to express your interest. Further information will be provided in due course. Stay tuned and follow our Facebook page for updates!

Application and fees

The DPU summerLab is open to all students and professionals with an interest in urban environments.

The international participation fee for each workshop is £400. The fee is discounted to £300 for: currently enrolled DPU students (2016-17), DPU alumni, and for group applications (5 people or more). Discounted fees apply for participants intending to register to multiple workshops too, please contact us for further info. Please note that these fees do not include travel or accommodation, though advice and local information will be provided. The application deadline for all workshops is Monday 3 July 2017. For more information and to apply please visit www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/development/programmes/summerlab or write to dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk

Participants are responsible for obtaining any visa they might require to which the DPU can provide proof of workshop registration if needed.

Personal equipment

Participants will need to bring their own laptops and digital equipment. Please ensure that this equipment is covered by your own insurance as the DPU cannot take responsibility for items lost or stolen during the workshop.


The deadline for application for the 2017 series will be on Monday 3 July. The applicant will need to e-mail the form, along with a CV and a letter of motivation to dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk