The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Ignacia Ossul-Vermehren

Ignacia Ossul

Research Fellow

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL September 2011


Research summary 

I am currently the lead Research Fellow at the DFID-funded research “AT2030 Community led solutions: Assistive Technologies in Informal Settlements”. The research focuses on how collective and community-led responses can empower disabled people to access better life outcomes, through increasing the relevance and uptake of assistive technologies in Sierra Leone and Indonesia. The research is part of the global programme “AT2030: Life-Changing Assistive Technologies for all” led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub in collaboration with the World Health Organisation.

My research interests focus on urban informality, social diversity and the use of visual participatory methods. My previous research and PhD thesis focused on informal housing with a gender approach. It examined the notion of ‘home’ and the political role of ‘home-making practices’ in women’s struggles for housing in informal settlements in Chile.


Teaching summary

As a Teaching Fellow and Teaching Assistant at UCL (2013 – 2018), I have taught on the MSc Social Development Practice and MSc Urban Development Planning at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, and supported field trips to Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania and London.

These include the following sessions and modules:  

  • Module Social Development and Practice – including fieldtrips to Kenya, Brazil, Tanzania and London.
  • Guest Lecture at PhD seminars: “Qualitative Methodology in PhD research”.
  • Guest Lecture at Social Policy and Citizenship: “Human Development and Social Policy”
  • Guest Lecture at Communication, Technologies and Social Power: “Participatory Photography as an advocacy and research tool”.   
  • Guest Lecture at Practice in Urban Development: “Qualitative Research Methods”
  • Global Citizenship Programme, University College of London (London, UK):  2-week programme on ‘Sustainable Cities’ for undergraduates that engages students with debates on sustainable development (2014, 2016, 2017).
  • Guest Lecture at the Institute of Sociology, Technische Universität (Berlin, Germany). Conceptualising housing and its implication to design and citizen’s participation”.

I also continue to do guest lectures in the MSc Social Development Practice and supervise masters dissertations in the following areas:


  • Low-income housing and slum upgrading
  • Citizenship, everyday politics and insurgent practices
  • Community participation and social movements
  • Gender, disability and social diversity
  • Ethnographic methodologies


University College London

PhD, Development Planning | 2019

University College London

MSc, Social Development Practice | 2012

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

BSc, Psychology | 2008



I am a social development practitioner, with an MSc in Social Development Practice and a PhD in Development Planning at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London. I have worked with multidisciplinary teams doing research, and as a project manager both in academic institutions as well as in NGOs. I have field experience in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, Brazil, Chile, Indonesia and The Philippines.

I’ve worked extensively with NGOs supporting informal settlements to access housing in Latin America, implementing social programs, and working alongside dwellers and policy officers to find sustainable housing solutions. In this role, I was invited to speak at the United Nations in Geneva in the context of the post-2015 agenda for extreme poverty, and chaired the side-event at the 25th Human Rights Council, “Poverty, Exclusion and the right to Housing in Latin America”.

My research interests focus on urban informality, social diversity and the use of participatory methods. My PhD thesis examined the political role of home-making practices in women’s struggles for housing in informal settlements in Viña del Mar, Chile. The research used qualitative visual methods, including participatory photography and video. As a Teaching Fellow at UCL, I have taught at the MSc Social Development Practice and MSc Urban Development Planning. I am a registered researcher at the Centre of Studies of Home (UK) and a research associate at the Research Centre of Territorial Vulnerability and Informality (CINVIT) (Chile).  


Peer-reviewed Articles

Ossul-Vermehren, I. (2018). The Politics of Home-Making: A gender-based approach to self-help housing. Revista INVI. 33(93). 9-51.

Ossul-Vermehren, I. (2018). Lo Político de Hacer-Hogar: Una mirada de género a la vivienda autoconstruída. Revista INVI. 33(93). 9-51.

Berroeta, H., Carvalho, L., Di Masso, A., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (2017). Apego al lugar: una aproximación psicoambiental a la vinculación afectiva con el entorno en procesos de reconstrucción del hábitat residencial. Revista INVI, 32(91), 113–139.

Book Chapters      

Ossul-Vermehren, I. (2018). Allegados. In A. Ledeneva (Ed.), The Global Encyclopedia of Informality, volume 2 (pp. 19–23). London: UCL PRESS.


Fernandes, A., Frediani A., Ossul Vermehren, I., Morgado Mendoza M. & Risi, F. (Eds). (2018). Collective Practices, Instruments for Collective Action and the Right to the City in Salvador, Bahia/Práticas Coletivas, Instrumentos para Ação e o Direito à Cidade em Salvador, Bahia. London: UCL Development Planning Unit.

Frediani, A., Monson, T., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (Eds.). (2017). Collective Practices and the right to the city in Salvador, Brazil. London: UCL Development Planning Unit.

Frediani, A., Monson, T., & Ossul Vermehren, I. (Eds.). (2016). Campaigning through Images: Exploring Housing Rights in North London. London: UCL Development Planning Unit.