Adriana Navarro-Sertich

Adriana holds a dual Master’s degree in Architecture, and City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. Born and raised in Colombia (S.A), she received a BS Arch  from the University of Virginia in 2004. After working for Rafael Viñoly Architects, and OPX Global in Washington DC, Adriana moved to California to begin her graduate studies in 2007. As a 2010 John K. Branner Fellow, Adriana traveled the world, focusing her research, FAVELA CHIC, on socio-cultural aspects of design, particularly analyzing the role and relationship between architecture, planning and urban informality. Adriana began FAVELissues in January 2010.

In 2012, Adriana joined the United Nations Office for Project Services [UNOPS] as Housing and Urban Planning Advisor. Initially based in Haiti and a lead in the first and largest housing reconstruction and urban rehabilitation project in the country, Adriana moved to Washington DC in September 2014, to push forward the housing and urban development agenda for UNOPS. Adriana founded urbanSEED in 2016 aiming to create inclusive, contextual and sustainable projects and developments in Washington DC.

Adriana is also a founder and lead coordinator of BUILDING LOCAL, a non-profit organization focused on exploring alternative materials and construction techniques [such as bamboo and earth] through interdisciplinary design-build workshops and strong participatory processes.

Andrew Carman

Andrew lives in Moscow, Idaho where he is a partner in a budding design-build studio. He earned a BA from Brigham Young University in International Law and Diplomacy with a Latin American Studies emphasis before redirecting his studies to architecture, earning a Bachelor and Master of Architecture from the University of Idaho where he helped manage the UI Sustainability Center. Andy studies informal development because he believes that in its creative exuberance and grounded common sense it has much to teach those of us troubleshooting the myriad problems facing the “developed” nations.


Anna W.Anna Wachtmeister

Over the last decade Anna Wachtmeister has lived in ten cities including Stuttgart, Nairobi, Cairo, Caracas, Erbil and Port-au-Prince where she worked at, among others, the UN-HABITAT, the GTZ’s Participatory Urban Development Programme and the Urban-Think Tank.

Her work relates to people and their built environment in post disaster / conflict settings with a focus on stakeholder liaison and housing. She takes a particular interest in communities’ own building practices, as well as their abilities to organize themselves.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, she was involved with the urban revitalisation of the ancient city Erbil and until recently she led a process from post ‐earthquake shelter interventions towards sustainable urban development in Port au Prince and found little time to write. Since shortly, Anna freelances and she hopes this will change. She trained as an architect in the UK and is based out of Sweden and India.

Diana MaldonadoDiana Maldonado

Diana is a Mexican architect and a professor in Architecture at Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (UANL). Diana holds a PhD in Architecture from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM); she did a Postdoctoral Stay at the Department of Architecture, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) in Argentina. Considering Latin-American informal settlements (favelas, barrios populares and villas miseria) as the new proto-cities of the current century, Diana’s research focuses on the urban vernacular architecture and the complexity of its context (informal geography), in Latin America cities.

Aside from being a research fellow through the Fulbright program at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture, Diana has participated in multiple conferences and research projects. She is currently working on a research project related to participatory documentation processes.  She is also aiming to reconceive the informal everyday geography through the construction of collaborative dynamic maps, and the deterritorializing  the concept of “border”.  At the moment, Diana is a Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley.

unknownDeepika Andavarapu

Deepika is an Adjunct Instructor at University of Cincinnati. Her doctoral dissertation is based on an ethnographic research on a slum in Visakhapatnam, India. Prior to starting her academic career, Deepika worked as an urban planner in public and private sectors for over six years. She is currently exploring gender issues in the use of public spaces in the context of an urban slum in India.


ralph spencer.jpgRalph Spencer Steenblik

Ralph has lectured, published, exhibited, and curated globally. Recently his work has been exhibited in art exhibitions in London, Berlin, and Barcelona. In late 2017 he spoke on machine learning and tensegrity with Phillip Anzalone at the MIT ACADIA conference; and elaborated on related subjects in early 2018 at a multi-session symposium at Yonsei University in Seoul Korea. His work was published in “Project Anticipation” 2016, a UNESCO sponsored symposium on Anticipation held in Trento, Italy, and he spoke at AIANY Design Conference. He has showcased his work at Galeria Zero, Design Santa Fe at Site Santa Fe’s Design Lab, The International Festival of Arts & Ideas in New Haven, Connecticut, and many others.

A professor at Kean University’s School of Public Architecture, he has taught at Pratt Institute, NJIT, CUNY, and has sat as critique on juries at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, FIT, Parsons, Wesleyan University, Pratt, Kean University, NJIT, NYIT, University of Hartford, and ISU, ID. He founded his interdisciplinary project, phi architecture φ, in 2004. His influence has been felt at design offices such as Asymptote and is a founding member of an innovation platform at Pelli Clarke Pelli. Some projects of note include The Hudson Yards Masterplan, The Ping An International Finance Centre (second tallest building in China), The Beinecke Library renovation at Yale University, Arizona State University Business School in Tempe, USA, and renovations at the World Financial Center, New York. He holds a masters from SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture).

Ralph acts from the philosophy that interdisciplinary collaborations infuse spaces with nuanced solutions, and is interested in creating urban complexity and intricacy on the macroscale and inspiring, interactive spaces on the micro scale. Incorporating advanced digital tools and sustainability offers new opportunities to this ongoing project.

Proyectos Arqui 5 ::  Silvia Soonets +  Maria Ines Pocaterra

Proyectos Arqui 5 is a team of three architects working in Caracas. Graduates from the Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Silvia Soonets and Isabel Pocaterra began collaborating in 1987; they were later joined by Maria Ines Pocaterra, a graduate from the same university. Arqui 5’s interests around social housing and urban design. The firm has lead several Upgrade Projects on informal settlements since 1999 (“barrios” in Venezuela). Their projects have been recognized by various local and international awards, such as the Urban Design Prize in the Quito Biennale in 2004 and the Gold Global Holcim Award for Sustainable Construction in 2006. Moreover, Arqui 5’s projects were exhibited in the Venetia Biennale in 2006 and are part of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s “Design with the Other 90%: CITIES” exhibit taking place (Fall 2011). In addition to their focus on technical and social issues surrounding upgrading projects, Arqui 5’s interest address the expanding social role of architects, as well as  the difficulties in executing these types of projects.

IMG-4712.jpgAnya Brickman Raredon

Anya is a Principal at the Affordable Housing Institute in Boston, MA where she leads work related to the formalization and redevelopment of informal settlements and post-disaster urban areas, as well as research into how the interconnection of physical, legal, financial, economic, and social systems can be leveraged to provide stable and permanent housing solutions for displaced populations. Her work at AHI has also included facilitation and strategic planning with affordable housing entities in both the US and abroad; the design of affordable housing strategies; mapping of housing value chains in multiple countries; and the development of financial models to provide access to housing finance for low-income families. Anya has directed projects worldwide, including in Mongolia, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba, Philippines, Lebanon, Bhutan, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Previous to her time at AHI, Anya worked extensively on research and development of community-based reconstruction strategies in post-earthquake Haiti, and coordinated the activities of multi-university teams of faculty and students working on urban design, land use planning, housing finance, and community capacity building.  She received a Masters in City Planning from MIT in 2011 and a BA from Yale in 2004 with Honors in Architecture. When Anya is not working hard at solving low-income housing challenges, she can be found choreographing dances.

Sergio Salazar.pngSergio Salazar

Sergio is an architect, philosopher, teacher and independent researcher and writer. He completed a semester abroad at the University of Buenos Aires for the Habitat and Urban Poverty in Latin America Masters degree and holds an MS in Architecture by the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon. He is a self-thought philosopher and describes himself as a queer thinker. In 2016 he created Talleres Nómada, a non-profit virtual philosophy school for queer and spatial studies. Over the last four years, Sergio has lived in five cities: Monterrey, Buenos Aires, Guanajuato, Nuevo Laredo and Xalapa.

He has also traveled around Mexico, his home country, with his Nomadic Workshops, imparting live and virtual courses to students from all over the country and abroad, having had students from Barcelona, Peru, Chicago, Buenos Aires and Colombia. Has two published articles by the journal Bitacora from the UNAM and a chapter in a book published by the Autonomous University of Monterrey Press. He is currently working on his book Performing Butler, which first chapter was self-published online and can be found here: https://issuu.com/sergiosalazar1/docs/performing_butler_chapter_one


Belkis Campos

Belkis is a Venezuelan student currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Architecture at the Universidad Simón Bolívar. Her interest in informal settlements drover her to start working for these communities through grassroots level initiatives since 2014. She began her experience as a Program Coordinator for the NGO “Somos Posible” in Caracas, and then worked alonsgide GVI, a social enterprise focused on community Development through volunteer engagement as Project Coordinator in informal settlements in countries like Costa Rica and Thailand in the year 2016 and 2017.

Most recently she worked as a research fellow for the urban think tank based in Dharavi, Mumbai, Urbz. She feels passionate about discovering the strengths of informal settlements around the world and she is convinced that they have a lot more teach us than what we think. She is currently working on her thesis which explores the flexible use of space in high density settlements in Petare Sur, Caracas and Dharavi, Mumbai.


Lubaina Rangwala

Lubaina is a planner and an urban activist. She holds a dual masters degree in Architecture and City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. She was born and raised in Mumbai, India where she completed her undergraduate education in Architecture (B-Arch) from Mumbai University at the Kamla Raheja Vidhyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA) in 2006. Before moving to California, she worked as a research fellow, a teacher and as an architect at KRVIA, working with issues of urban poverty and housing. At Berkeley, she completed a masters’ thesis titled “Transience as a “Way of Life”: Internal Migrations, Development Induced Displacements and the Politics of Urban Planning in India”. She is committed to continuing this research and further understanding the relationship of employment, labor and access to sustainable housing within the urban realm.

Juan Manuel Restrepo Cadavid

Juan Manuel Restrepo

Juan is an active member and one of the creators of La Ciudad Verde, a Colombian activist think thank that promotes sustainable cities through citizen participation and creativity. Currently he is studying a PhD in Politics and Public Administration in the University of Hong Kong. He has a Master’s degree in “Governing the Large Metropolis” from SciencesPo, Paris.

He has been advisor of cultural policies, sustainable development and social innovation to civic, public and private institutions. In 2013 he worked at the New Cities Foundation, identifying urban and social innovators for the What Works series New Cities Summit 2013 in São Paulo. He believes in the power citizens to maker cities better. Twitter @juanmrestrepo

943181_10151678172775930_270674073_nGiovanna Medina

 Giovanna is an architect and urban designer from Venezuela. After working for 3 years at the Municipal Institute for Housing and Habitat of the City Council of Sucre Municipality as a Coordinator of Projects and Studies for poor neighborhoods, Giovanna recently founded a design consultancy, advising political leaders and communities on city development. In 2012, Giovanna was selected by the World Economic Forum to represent Venezuela in the group of young transformers (Global Shapers), where she works as a curator of the Caracas Hub.

Engaging architecture as a social, cultural and economical tool, Giovanna is currently working on the integration of squatter settlements into the formal city, aiming to build a culture of citizenship, a system of safe public spaces, and reduce violence in these communities. Giovanna also writes for the newspaper “constructor report,” where she holds a monthly column.

imageLuis Diego Quiros Pacheco

Luis Diego Quiros is an Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation of the University of Maryland whose research focuses on contemporary urban issues in Latin America – specifically, the impact of urban and architectural interventions in informal settlements. He is the organizer of the “Conflict and Convergence: Urban Informality in Latin America” Symposium and has presented his work in several conferences, including ACSA, CELA, EDRA and other symposia. Luis is also the principal of Luis Diego Quiros Arquitectura, where he applies what he learns from his research to both privately-driven and socially-oriented projects. Most recently, his project “Layered Elements: A Holistic Approach to Malaria Prevention” was selected as a finalist in a design competition organized by ARCHIEVE International. Luis holds a professional degree from the Universidad del Diseño in Costa Rica and a Masters from Kansas State University.

Tucker Landesman

Tucker is an urban geography convert.  His roots are in sexual health promotion, HIV prevention and AIDS activism. He holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations from the George Washington University in Washington, DC and a Master of Public Health from the University of Buenos Aires. A passion for social justice movements and urban health led Tucker to examine informal housing settlements as sites of state intervention as well as empowerment and resistance. He is currently working towards a PhD in Human Geography and Urban Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science. His research focuses on the current paradigm of favela integration and urban renewal in Rio de Janeiro, particularly the transformation of favela-space and related power dynamics.

Fernando Luiz Lara

Fernando Luiz Lara is a Brazilian architect who works on Latin American 20th century architecture with emphasis on the dissemination of its values beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries. At the University of Texas at Austin, Fernando Lara teaches seminars on 20th century Latin American architecture and urbanism, as well as studios related to the continent’s current urban challenges. In The Rise of Popular Modernist Architecture in Brazil, published in 2008 by the University Press of Florida or in his several articles Prof. Lara has discussed the modern and the contemporary Brazilian architecture, its meaning, context and social-economic insertion. His latest publications look at the modernist vocabulary and spatiality being appropriated by the humblest favela dwellers. In 2005, he founded Studio Toró, a non-profit devoted to the challenges of water conservation and urban flooding in Latin America.

namrataNamrata Kapoor

Namrata is a planner and urban researcher. She holds dual Master’s in Architecture and City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and Bachelors in Architecture from KRVIA, Mumbai University. She has worked as an architect for Rahul Mehrotra and Associates and has carried out research on the design and policy of low income housing in India at the Design Cell, KRVIA. Namrata’s current interests and research area focused on citizenship and urban claims, as well as on the mechanisms through which these claims are either manifested or obscured by design and planning.


Kirsten Larson

Kirsten is an artist and designer, currently pursuing her Master’s in Architecture at the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a post-graduate certificate in public housing design from Escola da Cidade . Kirsten works within the intersections of architecture, art education and public art, developing projects where community and education-based processes have a prominent roll in public space design. While living in Chicago Kirsten collaborated with public schools, environmental organizations and community groups on murals and public garden projects. In 2010 she was a US Fulbright Fellow in Brazil, researching methods for the creation public space through design and public art. Kirsten currently lives in São Paulo, Brazil where she is working on several community-based fine art, education and design projects.

BethanyBethany Opalach

Bethany Opalach is a Bay Area architect whose research has deemphasized the boundaries between professional and nonprofessional designers, and formal, informal, and vernacular architecture. She is the author of “Reading the Architecture of Squatter Settlements: The Case of São Paulo, Brazil,” (Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review, Fall 1997.) She is currently researching transformative public design projects in low-income neighborhoods in the US. Bethany received a B. A. in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M. Arch. from the University of California, Berkeley. In 2008, she founded Bethany Opalach Architecture, a firm focused on residential and commercial design for private and nonprofit clients.

Jose Antonio Ramirez

Jose is pursuing a PhD in Urban Planning from the University of Columbia. He holds a master’s degree in the Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and two BA degrees from the University of Los Andes in Colombia: one in Political Science (2004) and one in History (2005). He has worked as a high school professor, as a Bogota’s city councilor assistants on citizen participation, and as an editorial coordinator in the School of Social Sciences at the University of los Andes. Jose’s long-standing academic interests revolve around regimes governing in Latin American cities, with a particular focus on notions of urban development, planning knowledge, governance and citizenship, as well as practices of spatial segregations and urban displacement.  His current research focuses on the planning and implementation of urban redevelopment policies in downtown Bogotá.

1106_renteria_pic_greyJennifer Renteria

Jennifer Renteria is a multidisciplinary designer and writer whose research and projects, which often utilize photography and multimedia, center around urban informality and the relationship between the urban environment and nature. Her work, both independent and collaborative, can be found in various academic and cultural publications, including Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning and Plataforma Urbana. Renteria studied history and visual arts at Bowdoin College and received her Master’s in Landscape Architecture from the University of Southern California. To see more of her work, visit: www.studiorenteria.com

Paula Restrepo

Paula has a PhD in economics from Mines ParisTech. Her PhD research considered the evaluation of impacts in two innovative slum policies on households’ welfare (in Mumbai and Medellin). She is an Environmental Engineer from the Escuela de Ingenieria de Antioquia in Colombia and has a Masters degree in environmental and development economics from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. In the past years Paula has been working in topics related to energy, climate change and slum redevelopment. Paula  recently joined the World Bank’s Young Professionals Program.


5 thoughts on “Writers

  1. Pingback: MEET THE FAVELissues’ TEAM «

  2. Pingback: Prepping for the New Year «

  3. Dear Writers of FAVELissues,

    My name is Andrew Sauls and I am a recent graduate of a Master’s in Urban Planning degree. Let me say that I am deeply inspired and stimulated by your posts. I am currently seeking an opportunity in a planning/development setting where my skills can translate into practical applications.

    During my graduate studies, I specialized in the processes and implementation of localized sustainable urbanism in a third-world context. My professional paper, titled \”Urban Spatial Information Framework in the Developing World,\” touches on the problems of rapid urbanization, urban slums, and 3rd world urban management, and suggests spatially-oriented approaches as solutions. The city of Guayaquil, Ecuador is used as an example.

    In general, I have cultivated the invaluable skill of developing and implementing plans, recommendations, and action plans in multiple scenarios that cater to both the short-term and long-term approaches in decision-making. While working at a transportation planning firm, I honed my technological skills in future modeling techniques, data organization, and statistical analysis. Similarly, most of my previous work and studies utilized Geographic Information Systems (GIS), instilling in me a more holistic and targeted approach when developing plans, as well as greater organization in the implementation phase. Finally, my desire to work in an international community development setting has endured throughout my entire undergraduate, graduate, and job-related ventures; this dream must become a reality.

    Therefore, I am inquiring about any positions or opportunities where I may be of assistance in such matters. Let me say that I am willing to assist in anyway; my main wish is to become exposed to this type of setting and take the initial steps toward my professional career. f you happen to be aware of any opportunities, please inform me or forward my information to the respected individual or party.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and take care.


    Andrew C Sauls
    (281) 703 – 7569
    Houston, TX, USA

  4. Pingback: WELCOME 2014 + NEW WRITERS! | {FAVEL issues}

  5. Pingback: Welcome new writers! | {FAVEL issues}

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