The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU summerLab

The DPU summerLab workshop series aims to leverage the reality of the city as a laboratory for developing socially responsive design measures.

winter lab
We are happy to communicate that the deadline for sending your application for the DPU summerLab: special 'winter' edition has been extended to Friday 5 February. Please email dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk for any query and to receive the Application Form. See below 'Lab pages’ section for further details.

Born out of the MSc Building & Urban Design in Development (BUDD) course in 2009 and expanded in 2010 into a wider The Bartlett Development Planning Unit initiative, it is intended to provoke, stimulate, and reconsider the role of designers in promoting spatial justice.

Focusing on cities’ contested spaces, their mutable landscapes and visible/invisible thresholds, the DPU summerLab asserts that – to appropriately engage in this arena – a critical recalibration of (architectural and urban) design practice is required: every year’s workshop series lies within, and wants to contribute to, this paradigmatic shift.

The DPU summerLab seeks to establish a unique rotating platform for in situ immersion and experimentation where the boundaries of spatial agency and design processes are actively pushed, hinging upon critical analysis and design research.

The workshops – which are geared toward students and emerging professionals with backgrounds and/or keen interest in the urban environment – offer a vital testing ground for the proposing of contextual, hybridised spatial interventions deeply embedded into socio-political agendas. 

Read and download the latest DPU summerLab pamphlet, with works and reflections from the 2018 and 2019 workshops.

Please scroll down for more information on applications and fees

Lab pages

2021 special online edition

The DPU summerLab team is glad to announce the launch of an online special edition, that will reach remotely a number of designers, activists, researchers and practitioners. In a series of online live sessions – alternating lectures, discussions and design research activities – we will leverage the realities of Aleppo, Berbera, Chengdu, in a comparative fashion. We aim to question how urbanism and forms of tangible and intangible heritage are affected by armed conflict, infrastructural development, regeneration processes. Participants will be given access to multimedia learning materials one week prior to the beginning of the workshop.

The live sessions
 will start on Sunday 14 February, with participants meeting our partners from ICRC, IRHPD and Redsea Cultural Foundation, Urban Synthesis China Ltd., and the programme coordinators offering an overview of the programme’s backgrounds and aims, sharing a series of inputs on design research, and facilitating a live exercise introducing the grounds of investigation. Monday 15, Tuesday 16, Wednesday 17 will focus on one city per each day: participants will attend lectures and participate to live discussions in the morning, and will engage in live exercises in the afternoon, supported by staff from both DPU and partner organisations.

On Thursday 18, participants will be given the opportunity to finalise and present their work and receive feedback from partners and DPU members of staff. We are currently finalising details and timetables: please keep checking this page and our social network accounts for updates, but do consider that each day we will meet for approximately two slots of 1h30’ in the morning, and a 2h slot in the afternoon.

2019 series
2018 series
2017 series
2016 series
2015 series
2014 series
2013 series
2012 series
2011 series

Expression of interest and application to the programme

Interested in joining the special 2021 online edition of the programme? Please email dpusummerlab@ucl.ac.uk for any query and to receive an Application Form. Please notice deadline for receiving applications is on Friday 5 February 2021.


The 2021 special online edition of the programme will be facilitated and enriched by the contribution of a multitude of staff from partner organisations, and DPU academics. Core staff of the programme are:

Dr Giorgio Talocci (programme coordinator)

Giorgio is a design researcher and educator. He is a Lecturer (Teaching) at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit, where he has been working since 2012. He also works as Lecturer at the Welsh School of Architecture (MA Architectural Design), and as Studio Master at the Architectural Association (MA/MArch Housing and Urbanism). His main research interests and publications focus on the significance of obsolescing processes in the dynamics of governance of the contemporary city, and on participatory design methodologies. He practised as an architect in Rome, where he later co-founded Laboratorio Arti Civiche — a trans-disciplinary research group whose work centred on participatory design research experiences and performances, most often with communities of squatters.

Giorgio completed his PhD in Development Planning in 2019, with a thesis questioning the actual emergence of emancipatory design practices in informal settlements in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. There, he conducted a twelve-month fieldwork based on ethnographic research methods, following a projective epistemology. He has long term experience of participatory design research along with urban poor communities, in United Kingdom, Italy, Cambodia, Philippines, Myanmar, Brazil, Turkey, China, Somaliland. He has been a long term collaborator of the Community Architects Network, a programme funded by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights. His article “The depoliticisation of housing policies: the case of Borei Keila land-sharing in Phnom Penh, Cambodia” was awarded the 2017 Best Early Career Article Prize by the International Journal of Housing Policy, for being “by far the most ambitious of all the submitted articles in terms of engaging with ideas and the global context, yet at the same time painting a vivid and convincing picture of the housing/political realities in the locality”.

Armando Caroca Fernandez (assistant coordinator)
Armando is a London-based Chilean architect and urban designer who holds an MA in Architecture from Universidad Católica de Chile and an MSc Urban Design in Development from the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London. Armando has worked in academia, NGOs and the private sector in Chile and the UK, developing city-scale public infrastructure, informal settlements’ upgrade projects and housing schemes; and conducting applied research on socio-natural disaster programmes and policies.

He has taught in architecture studios and organised academic workshops on housing and urban regeneration in Chile. Armando has independently conducted research and published several articles and book chapters, such as the article ‘Campamento/ Informal Settlement (Chile)’ for the UCL Press Global Encyclopaedia of Informality (2018); and the chapter ‘Weathering & Modern Architecture: The Passage of Time in the Plaza de Armas Building’ for the Ediciones ARQ book ‘Sudamerica Moderna’ (2015).

He has presented his work in Chile, Belgium, and the UK. His current research interests include urban disaster risk, vulnerability and resilience (including health hazards such as COVID-19); mining and extractivism in Latin America; and informal settlements. He has recently worked on a series of relevant reports for the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, among others; and launched the collaborative online platform ‘Think-Fast: A Collective Urban Response for COVID-19’.