UCL Urban Laboratory


Dr Catalina Ortiz Appointed New Director for UCL Urban Laboratory

19 March 2024

UCL Urban Lab is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Catalina Ortiz as its new director.

An image of new UCL Urban Lab Director, Dr Catalina Ortiz

Following a rigorous selection process, Dr Catalina Ortiz will join UCL Urban Lab as Director, effective June 2024. She succeeds Professor Clare Melhuish, who has served a six-year tenure as Director since May 2018.  

Catalina joined UCL in 2015 and is an Associate Professor in The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU). She has been a committed contributor to the Urban Lab network for many years, having helped develop the Global Urbanism MASc programme, for which she is a teaching contributor, and having been a member of the lab’s Steering Committee since 2021.  

Catalina is an urbanist who is passionate about spatial justice. Her research uses decolonial and critical urban theory through knowledge co-production methodologies to study the politics of space production to foster more just cities and the recognition of multiple urban knowledges. Her work revolves around critical urban pedagogies, planning for equality, and southern urbanisms. As an educator, she is committed to an ethics of care and an engaged scholarship to trigger radical spatial imagination for a negotiated co-production of space. 

Prof Christoph Lindner, Dean of The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, commented on the appointment:

Catalina is a highly regarded urbanist and educator whose innovative work and scholarship will enrich Urban Lab during her tenure. I want to take this opportunity to thank Clare for her leadership of the department over the past six years, during which she played a key role in The Bartlett faculty and led many strategic cross-university collaborations.

On her appointment, Dr Catalina Ortiz said:

I am honoured to join the Urban Lab as its new director having been a member of its community for many years. I look forward to strengthening the Lab’s research-based agenda, nurturing local and global collaboration and building on its reputation as a leading cultural and educational hub.

Prof Clare Melhuish, the current UCL Urban Laboratory Director said:

I am delighted to welcome Catalina as the new Director of UCL Urban Laboratory. In a troubling context of global instability and injustice, our rich and varied academic collaborations and external partnerships provide a source of hope, and Catalina brings invaluable experience and scholarship to steer us through the next four years.

Catalina will divide her time between the Urban Lab and DPU in the spirit of Urban Lab’s remit to foster collaboration and partnership between urbanists in different departments and faculties at UCL.

More information

Image: Skivalos Photographia