Who I am

I’m interested in Spatial Justice and Governance in institutional environments (both formal and informal)

I am an Associate Professor of Spatial Planning and Strategy at TU Delft.

I am a scholar committed to understanding the relationships between society and the production and governance of the built environment. This means that I investigate how actors and institutions from the public sector, the private sector and civic society interact in planning, designing, governing and inhabiting the built environment, both formally and informally. These basic but foundational ideas explain much of my actions as an educator and researcher.

The formal relationships between actors and the built environment I mention above include the development of formal policies and plans that shape our cities and communities. Meanwhile, informal relationships include actions by citizens, private enterprises and sometimes public actors that shape and change the built environment through informal institutions. For Elinor Ostrom (Ostrom, 2015), informal institutions are the “unwritten rules” related to culture, values, informal practices, and inherited worldviews that influence the way by which formal institutions work.

An example of informal institution is the Dutch Polder Model, which is characterised by 3 attributes: collective action, consensus seeking and faith in institutions. 

These “rules” or “ways of doing things” are unwritten, but are firmly anchored in a particular history, culture and attitude towards the world, all of them influenced by how space_ a scarce resource_ has been managed in the Netherlands over the centuries. This informal institution influences the way by which decisions are negotiated, plans and policies are shaped and ultimately how society deals with the management, planning and design of space and resources in the country.

I have a multidisciplinary background that includes design, spatial planning and urban/economic geography. This background is the result of a trajectory that started at the Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism of the University of São Paulo, one of the highest ranked architecture and planning courses in Latin America and had stations at the Institut Français d’Urbanisme (later merged with l’Institut d’Urbanisme de Paris to form the new École d’Urbanisme de Paris), the University of Hertfordshire (UK) and finally TU Delft, where I have worked since 2004 (please, see my CV). Upon obtaining my PhD at TU Delft in 2008, I worked as an assistant professor for the chair Spatial Planning and Strategy, led by Professor Vincent Nadin. In 2019, I became Associate Professor of Spatial Planning and Strategy.

Please visit my professional websites for more information

Book projects

The Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanisation
(2019) Edited by Roberto Rocco and Jan van Ballegooijen.
This book explores the intersections between informal urbanisation processes and politics, particularly the political struggles associated to rural to urban migration.. The book is structured around narratives on the urbanisation processes of different cities around the world. Each chapter is developed by an independent author or authors and presents an account of how urbanisation processes (and informal urbanisation in particular) are associated with specific political struggles in different socio-political realities and how governments and civil society are tackling informal settlements.

You can buy the book HERE.

How do you employ an insurgent planner?
(Forthcoming) Edited by Roberto Roberto and Peter Abraham Fukuda Loewi.
This project investigates the ‘communicative turn’ in planning practice, and its potential for insurgent forms of civic engagement and democracy-building.  It searches for planners ‘pushing the envelope’ and challenging technocratic spatial planning, incorporating notions of participation, spatial justice and the right to the city into their daily practices. It delves into those daily practices to answer the question “How do you employ an insurgent planner ?”. It relies on conversations with planners acting in a number of cities around the world and aims to serve as a catalogue of radical experiences that challenge the status quo of contemporary market-based, exclusionary city-making. This book also incorporates cross-cutting issues of gender, race, class, sexual orientation and others, to try and explore how insurgent planners around the world challenge technocratic planning by bringing diversity into planning.

The Spatial Justice of the Commons
This book explores concepts of spatial justice through a reflection of the tragedy of the commons.


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