UCL Urban Laboratory


Co-Designing Publics: Radical Democracy and Transformative Urbanisms

01 December 2023, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

co-designing_publics book cover

Join UCL Urban Laboratory's Honorary Professor, Dr Inam as he introduces the concept of 'co-designing publics' by examining what lies at the intersection of the public realm and informal urbanisms.

This event is free.

Event Information

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UCL Urban Lab


Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre
Wilkins Building
Gower Street
United Kingdom

Globally, contemporary cities face seemingly insurmountable challenges such as urban inequality, inadequate infrastructure, climate crisis, and increasingly, threats to democracy.  In the face of such challenges, Dr Inam introduces the concept of 'co-designing publics' by examining what lies at the intersection of the public realm and informal urbanisms. 

He defines the public realm as interconnected spatial and political networks of public spaces that weave a city together, while informal urbanisms are the transactional conditions of ambiguity that exist between what is acceptable and what is unacceptable in cities.  At their intersection are publics, who never simply exist because they are always created.  In fact, publics are co-designed [i.e. co-created in inventive and multifarious ways] around common concerns or desire through volitional inquiry and action. 

Dr Inam contextualizes these discussions by paying particular attention to the cities of the global south, because place matters in shaping urban thinking and practice. There is an increasing interest in thinking and practicing from cities of the global south rather than just about them.  He then describes how these ideas are being further investigated through case studies in cites around the world and articulated through interactive events in the Co-Designing Publics International Research Network.  He concludes with thoughts on the profound implications of co-designing publics for radical democracy and transformative urbanisms.

Dr Aseem Inam 

Dr. Aseem Inam is Professor and Inaugural Chair in Urban Design at Cardiff University in the UK.  Dr Inam is also the Founding Director of TRULAB: Laboratory for Designing Urban Transformation, a pioneering research-based practice first established in New York City. He was recently appointed Honorary Professor at UCL Urban Laboratory, University College London. 

As a Principal Investigator, he is currently leading multiple funded research projects, including ‘Co-Designing Publics: [Re]Producing the Public Realm via Informal Urbanisms’.

His most recent book, Co-Designing Publics, is the result of an international collaboration across 7 countries and is published by ORO Editions International which further expands on the work presented in this talk.