The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU summerLab

The DPU summerLab programme aims to leverage the reality of the city as a laboratory for developing socially responsive design research strategies

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, the DPU summerLab is intended to provoke, stimulate, and reconsider the role of design research 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 the design research practice is required. The programme hosts therefore a series of initiatives (design workshops, research fellowships) lying within, and contributing to, such paradigmatic shift.

The DPU summerLab is happy to launch the 2022 Special Research Fellowship Series, that will take us to four exciting destinations: Cali (Colombia), São Paulo (Brazil), Berbera and Zeila (Somaliland). Applications are now open for the fellowships in Cali and São Paulo, whereas we will share the call for Berbera and Zeila in November 2022.

Cali, Colombia: Exploring intersectional lives in ‘barrios populares’ (in collaboration with Universidad del Valle): view full role description and application information

São Paulo, Brazil: Mapping linkages between sanitation and the SDGs (in collaboration with FESPSP, Fundaçao Escola de Sociologia e Política de São Paulo): view full role description and application information

Zeila – Documenting built heritage and socio-cultural trajectories on the Gulf of Aden (in collaboration with Redsea Cultural Foundation)view full role description and application information

Start: Mid-November 2022
Duration: 1 month (plus up to one month for finalisation of deliverables)
Financial support: 4500 GBP per Research Fellow, covering travel costs, living allowances, visa as and if applicable and medical insurance (please see full details in Role Descriptions)
Eligibility: All DPU alumni, and current DPU and UCL PhD students
Closing date for applications: Monday 17 October 2022, 1pm

To apply, please follow the instructions in the Role Descriptions. Deadline for application is Monday 17 October 2022 (1pm). Shortlisted candidates will be notified on Tuesday 18 October. Interviews will be held in the afternoon of Wednesday 19 October (São Paulo) and Thursday 20 October (Cali).For further information and clarification, please contact the DPU summerLab programme coordinator Dr Giorgio Talocci at giorgio.talocci.11@ucl.ac.uk

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

Lab pages 

DPU summerLab 2022: special Research Fellowships series
2021 special online edition

The DPU summerLab team organised a special online ‘winter’ edition in February 2021, which has reached  remotely a number of designers, activists, researchers and practitioners. In a series of online live sessions – alternating lectures, discussions and design research activities – participants explored the realities of Aleppo (Syria, in partnership with ICRC), Berbera (Somaliland, in partnership with IRHPD and Redsea Cultural Foundation), Chengdu (China, with Urban Synthesis China Ltd.), in a comparative fashion. The workshop questioned how urbanism and forms of tangible and intangible heritage are affected by armed conflict (in Aleppo), infrastructural development (in Berbera), regeneration processes (in Chengdu).

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


The DPU summerLab is supported by a multitude of members of the DPU academic staff on a workshop to workshop (or fellowship to fellowship) basis. The programme is coordinated by Dr Giorgio Talocci. The currently active fellowships are being supported by Dr Catalina Ortiz (for what concerns Cali) and Dr Pascale Hofmann (for what concerns São Paulo).