How community-led design and planning can lead to housing justice

A series of events featuring IIED’s Alexandre Apsan Frediani over the next few months will show how housing justice can help people and cities flourish.

News, 16 September 2022
People kneeling on the floor placing pieces of paper over a map poster.

Participatory mapping during the ASF-UK/Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre workshop in Cockle Bay, Freetown (Photo: SLURC)

How cities relate to people and nature will be among the topics discussed at a two-day seminar organised by Architecture Sans Frontières-UK in October. 

The event, in partnership with IIED and The Bartlett Development Planning Unit of University College London, will explore how community-led design and planning can promote human development.  

It is based on a new book written by Alexandre Apsan Frediani, a principal researcher at IIED. ‘Cities for human development: a capability approach to city-making’ proposes a series of mechanisms that can shift the focus of urban development from economic growth towards the expansion of human flourishing and wellbeing. 

The seminar will use real-life case studies and learning exercises based on experiences in Freetown, where IIED has ongoing collaborations with grassroots groups, NGOs and academics advocating for housing rights of people living in insecure conditions. Key lessons and recommendations will be shared with built environment professionals and development practitioners who are working in urban contexts.  

Prior to the seminar, the book will also be discussed at an event on Friday 21 October as part of The Bartlett DPU Dialogues in Development lecture series

Next month’s events are followed in December and January by a workshop in Johannesburg that focuses on supporting local residents and their organisations in their efforts to create fairer living conditions in the area. 

And these activities with ASF-UK link closely to IIED’s work to produce knowledge and methodologies for housing policy and programmes that promote wellbeing and sustainability in cities of the global South. 

Frediani said: “Making urban planning and design processes more democratic is fundamental to promote housing rights of marginalised groups in cities of the global South.   

“This collaboration helps us to encourage built environment practitioners to use community-led planning and design methodologies, with the aim to expand the capabilities of local communities to respond to the threat of evictions and improve the living conditions of vulnerable areas of cities.” 

The Johannesburg workshops, also organised in partnership with 1to1 – Agency of Engagement and supported by the London Metropolitan University’s Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies, will focus on a range of medium- to high-rise buildings dealing with inadequate housing conditions and the risk of displacement.  

Frediani added: “The workshop is an opportunity to mobilise and nurture IIED’s housing justice agenda by engaging with groups trying to improve the security of tenure and living conditions of people in Johannesburg’s inner city areas.  

“The workshop will enable IIED, and workshop partners, to support these localised struggles, as well as strengthen the capacities of built environment practitioners interested to learn from these experiences and explore the role that they can play in the making of more socially just cities.” 

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