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Ongoing research projects

Risk in Informal Settlements

Risk in Informal Settlements - Community Knowledge and Policy Action

This project presents an exciting opportunity to bring into public and policy debate a discussion of how to measure the impacts of environmental risks on people living in informal settlements and how to get policy and community action on addressing these risks.

[visit site]


Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK)

Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) is a 3 year research and capacity building programme funded by DFID and ESRC. DPU researchers lead the work in WP 4 on the ‘Governance, Planning and Urban Development’

[visit site]

green bond markets

Collaborative Development of Green Bond Markets in China and UK: Pathways and Policy Frameworks

This research project seeks to explore the relationship between three processes: development of green bond markets in UK and China, collaboration between British and Chinese financial institutions with regard to green bonds, and low carbon transitions in these two countries.

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lebanon construction

Human, Economic, and Social Flows Beyond Crisis: Understanding the “Urbanitarian” (HESF)

The DPU and the Humanitarian Affairs Team at Save the Children UK have embarked on a research programme at the intersection of urban, humanitarian and forced migration studies. The project aims to inform humanitarian action and policy makers in urban contexts of protracted displacement.

[visit site]

camps and borders

Borders and camps

Building on a review of the existing literature, as well as on primary data from Calais and Dunkirk, and reflections emerged during a public debate around Space, politics and imperfect citizenship, the research aims to consolidate and advance the work and research on borders and camps that has been developed at DPU so far.

[visit site]

gccu 1

Gender, climate change and urbanisation: Revisiting the links

DPU and Genre en Action have embarked on a research project to examine the links between gender, climate change and urbanisation. Indeed, whilst debates on climate change have clearly evolved over the years, the gendered and urban components of that debate have only recently appeared as two significant domains of exploration.

[visit site

balloon flight Nairobi

Urban Zoonoses

DPU is undertaking a research programme on the "Epidemiology, ecology and socio-economics of disease emergence in Nairobi” (shortly titled as Urban Zoo). The overall objective is to understand the mechanisms that may lead to the introduction of pathogens into urban populations and their subsequent spread in Nairobi, Kenya. 
[visit site]


SLURC Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre

The Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) based in Freetown is a globally connected urban 
research centre that aims to build the capacity of urban stakeholders in Sierra Leone; make urban knowledge available and accessible to those who need it; deliver world leading research in order to influence the country’s urban policy and practice

[visit site]


Political Settlement in Somaliland: A Gendered Perspective

Recent research recognises the importance of political settlements in determining the equitability of development and the level of stability in societies. 

However, little research on political settlements analyses the different roles that women and men play in determining a given settlement. 

[visit site]

Indefensible Space

Indefensible Space

The aim of this project is to highlight the problems and strategies related to gender-based violence faced by women in slums because of lack of secure and dignified access to toilets. This can be either because they have to relieve themselves in public in the absence of toilets, or because the location, physical access or design of communal toilets is insecure.
[visit site]

Reducing Relocation Risk in Urban AreasV.2

Reducing Relocation Risk in Urban Areas

The research examines the implications of climate-risk related resettlement and relocation policies in cities across four countries: Uganda, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and India. Densely-populated urban centres are often exposed to multiple climate-related hazards. 
[visit site]

clima sin riesgo image 1

cLIMA sin Riesgo

This research looks at potential ways of disrupting cycles of risk through connected actions and investments by local communities and state agencies. Visit the dedicated website - www.climasinriesgo.net- for all the latest news and updates.
[visit site]

Cosmopolitan Development and Planning

The legacy of 'cosmopolitan development': towards a new research agenda

The aim of the Cross-Cluster Research Project is to contribute to the academic debate on post-conflict reconstruction and planning in divided societies. The project critically engages with the work of Michael Safier, a key figure of the Development Planning Unit. [visit site]

Habitat III process

DPU engagement with the Habitat III process

In October 2016 Habitat III will bring together global actors to adopt a “New Urban Agenda.” The DPU is taking part in this process by participating in different initiatives aimed at stimulating the debate around the content of the new agenda as well as the process through which it is taking shape. [visit site]

WatJust: Translocal learning for water justice

Translocal learning for water justice: Peri-urban pathways in India, Tanzania and Bolivia

Exploring the transformative potential of alternative water supply arrangements—small-scale, low-cost management practices, and new configurations of water governance—undertaken for and by the peri-urban poor in three urban regions: Kolkata (India), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Cochabamba (Bolivia). [visit site]

Mapping Urban Energy Landscapes

Mapping Urban Energy Landscapes

Achieving low carbon, socially just cities will require a spatial, socio-economic and political transformation. This transformation will depend on our ability to find low carbon development pathways for urban energy systems. Examining humanity's potential to do so is the chief preoccupation of this research project. [visit site]

Insurgent Regeneration Microsite

Insurgent Regeneration

This action-research programme consists of a series of initiatives aiming to explore and critically examine the multiple narratives that accompany processes of urban renewal in ‘decaying’ inner city areas in the global South, where self-organised resident occupations are taking place. [visit site]

Mapping Beyond the Palimpsest - Lima, Peru

Mapping Beyond the Palimpsest

Taking into consideration the potential ethical, societal, legal and regulatory issues underpinning mapping, the research will apply innovative methods and rapid prototyping – such as 3D mapping, augmented reality, as well as 3D printing - to develop a digital archive in José Carlos Mariátegui and Barrios Altos, the two study sites in Lima. [visit site]

Visit the Silk Cities microsite. Image: Yazd, Iran by Georgios Giannopoulos (2010)

Silk Cities platform

An independent contextual platform for knowledge sharing and communication between built environment professionals. The initiative emerged out of a conference in November 2012, and aims to bridge the gap between theory and practice by connecting existing knowledge and know-how in a country to high-profile, up-to-date international research. [visit site]


The heuristics of mapping urban environmental change

Mapping is not only a tool to investigate/capture place-making practices but is itself a means to produce spaces and social relations. Hence, as maps and territories co-construct one another, we ask to what extent can mapping, be a means to contest and re-shape the unjust distribution of resources and opportunities in cities? [visit site]


Planning with Climate Change in Maputo

A project examining the potential of partnerships between public, private and civil society actors to bridge the gap between rhetoric and action in climate change policy. In creating the conditions for climate compatible development, partnerships may act as a bridge between development and environmental concerns. [visit site]

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

HIV and AIDS and informal settlements in sub-Saharan Africa

The research seeks to contribute answers to the question: “What is the relationship between HIV and AIDS and informal settlement in eastern and southern African cities?” [visit site]


Past research projects

whose olympics

Whose Olympics?

The goal of this research is to produce a collaborative documentary telling the story of how London’s parks and open spaces are changing in 2012 as a result of the Olympics, and how these transformations are affecting people’s experiences of their local areas and of the Games. [visit site]


Local governance, urban mobility and poverty reduction

This research project examines the links between mobility, poverty reduction, social inclusion and urban integration. It seeks to learn systematically from a critical assessment of a set of interventions fostered by the local government of Medellín, Colombia's second largest city (population 3.5 million) [visit site]

Tuzla: Energy Landscapes

Tuzla: Energy Landscapes

This platform is the result of an experimental project that used film as a method for analysis and presentation of the whole energy systems. The case-study is the energy landscapes in Tuzla, a city in the northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina. [visit site]

adapting cities

Adapting cities to climate change

This research seeks, firstly, to understand how the impacts of climate change in Bangladesh are going to affect the urban poor in Dhaka and  secondly, to address plans for adaptation at the local (neighbourhood level) that will address vulnerability.[visit site]

Future Proofing Cities

Future Proofing Cities

Cities in developing countries need to act now to future proof their urban development before they are locked into unsustainable development pathways. Cities face significant risks to growth and poverty reduction from climate change, resource scarcities and damage to vital ecosystems.
[visit site]

urban metabolism

Urban Metabolism

What is urban metabolism? How is it understood within different disciplines? Can urban metabolism foster new ideas and concepts of the urban? What is its potential to develop practical applications? These questions emerge around an interdisciplinary dialogue.[visit site]


Justice in the Green

An action-learning platform aiming at contributing to the generation and sharing of action on the use and appropriation of Hackney Marsh and connected green spaces by the surrounding communities. This is understood in the context of the significant transformations of the area (i.e the Olympic Games and Legacy process) [visit site]