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.

In 2022, the DPU summerLab launched a Special Research Fellowship Series, providing the opportunity for a series of researchers to work in the field for extended periods, with the support of local partners.

In Cali (Colombia), Naiara Yumiko (MSc BUDD alumna) supported the activities of the Gridding Equitable Urban Futures in Areas of Transition (GREAT) research project, with the supervision of staff from Universidad del Valle and Catalina Ortiz. Naiara has contributed to an interactive mapping of intersectional identities, producing highly visual maps and graphic elaborations. She has also supported the production of policy briefs within the overall framework of GREAT PublicLabs’ activities.

In São Paulo and in Campinas (Brazil), Lourenço Queiroz Capriglione (MSc ESD alumnus) worked with the research group on Sanitation of the Fundação Escola de Sociologia e Política de São Paulo (FESPSP). Lourenço, supervised by FESPSP’s staff and Pascale Hofmann, has contributed to mapping linkages between sanitation and the sustainable development goals, raising the importance of sanitation and promoting integrated approaches and benefits through fieldwork and dialogue with local stakeholders.

In Zeila (Somaliland) the DPU is partnering with the Redsea Cultural Foundation (RCF) and is supporting two local researchers (Abdalgani Aid Almi and Abdifatah Mohamed Abdi) to map physical artefacts of relevance to the socio-cultural and spatial development of the coastal town, along with producing some oral histories. In Berbera (Somaliland), RCF will support Laia Garcia Fernandez (MSc BUDD alumna and current MSc BUDD’s Graduate Teaching Assistant), who will research a series of construction techniques in Berbera’s historical districts and wider surroundings, supporting their conservation and dissemination. The fellowships in Somaliland are supervised by RCF staff, and by Giorgio Talocci and Amina-Bahja Ekman.

More info on the fellowship is available in the tabs below.

Please stay tuned for future workshops and other opportunities, we will keep this page up-to-date. For information, please contact the DPU summerLab programme coordinator Dr Giorgio Talocci at giorgio.talocci.11@ucl.ac.uk

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

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2018 and 2019

2018 series

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2018 and 2019

2017 series

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2016 series

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2015 series

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2014 series

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2013 series

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2012 series

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2012 (Zurich)
2012 (Rome)

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).