February 2021 @Poliedra @Polimi Master of Design for Development Resilience & Local Capaicity Building Seminar & Workshop

The “Resilient Thinking Design Approach” and “Habitat Program” are instruments of opinion, negotiation and strategic vision for the improvement of the quality of life, based on local capacity building and community-based approach by multi-governance participatory co-design implemented from 2013 by Actions Without Borders of the International Union of Architects and Architects Without Frontiers-International in different cities and neighborhoods in Africa, America and Europe such as the Vallcarca neighborhood in Barcelona, Spain; Milagro de Dios neighborhood in Ibague, Colombia among others.
Thursday 11th February Tools for fostering Local Capacity Building

  1. Lecture A & Discussion: Introductory Complexity System Analysis and Vision Tools1 [2h]
    Methodology to understand and structure local capacity building and community-based approach.
    • [1h] Introduction “Resilient Thinking Design Approach2” Read paper number 2. Students prepares two questions.
    • [1h} Discussion
  2. Workshop A Part 1: Qualitative Dynamics Systems Analysis Tool3 [2h]:
    Apply Resilient Thinking Approach tool for a specific case study (group of students)
    • [1h] Resilient Thinking Approach Multi-Systems Analysis wicked problems, risks & Vulnerabilities + Design Strategic 2030 vision and metrics
    • [1h] Qualitative Multi-Time-Scale Interrelated Dynamics Systems Analysis using the Panarchy heuristic.
    Friday 12th February Tools for fostering Local Capacity Building
  3. Lecture B Introduction “Habitat Program4”+ Case Studies in developing and developed countries [2h]
    • [1h] Introduction Habitat Program” + Case Studies in developing and developed countries
    • [1h} Discussion Methodology
  4. Workshop A Part 2: Qualitative Dynamics Systems Analysis Tool [2h]:
    • [2h] Final Resilient Thinking Approach Presentations + Discussion
  5. Final Resilient Thinking Final Workshop Assignment to complete• Annex A: Adaptive Cycle and and answer three questions (individually).
  6. • Annex B: Panarchy framework (students group)

  7. 1 Balanzo, R., Magrinya, F. (2015) A critic perspective of Social and urban innovation and resilience: Self-reliant urban space in Barcelona, Chapter 3, pº 59-94 , Social innovation and urban policies in Spain, Icaria Editorial, Barcelona, Spain. https://ddd.uab.cat/pub/llibres/2015/189796/innsocpol_a2015iSPA.pdf 2 De Balanzó, R., & Rodríguez-Planas, N. (2018). Crisis and reorganization in urban dynamics. Ecology and Society, 23(4). 3 De Balanzó, R. From sustainability to Urban Resilience Thinking applied for urbanism: Barcelona city and the Vallcarca neighborhood. Doctoral, Thesis, UPC, Institut Universitari de Recerca en Ciència i Tecnologies de la Sostenibilitat, 2017. 4 Forthcoming 2021. Balanzo, R. & Espinosa, M, COVID-19 Pandemic & Panarchy: The Resilient Habitat Strategic Program Tool, Milagro de Dios Case Study, Ibague, Colombia. UIA Rio 2021 Conference Paper Documentary: https://youtu.be/3tLhKTsfu9g https://www.fulbright.edu.co/catedra-resiliencia/
    Webpage: https://localprojectchallenge.org/building-resilience-in-milagro-de-dios/

Readings for the workshop:

Resilience Thinking Workshop Survival Trouble: Anthropocene, Anticolonialism, and Ecologic Resistence Conference

February 20th at Graduate Center, CUNY, New York

Survival Trouble: Anthropocene, Anticolonialism, and Ecologic Resistence
The Graduate Center, CUNY, Nueva York,
There exists no place on this planet where the trace of human existence is not felt, whether it be indirectly or directly. Irreversible changes to our Earth have generated inevitable human resistance, from the anticolonial initiatives of indigenous groups to the youth marches taking place in the world’s largest cities. We can classify this current geologic period—marked by the drastic transformation of terrestrial happenings due to human behavior—with the term anthropocene. The anthropocene is evidence of the devastating biophysical consequences of the dominating socioeconomic system of the modern day. Ecology is inevitably involved in this discussion, as it is central to the uprising demands in justice, equality, and inclusion that are taking place across the globe in the fight for survival. In our consideration of the anthropocene, we ask ourselves: what changes in our modes of being and doing, and what political actions are fundamental to combat social and ecologic injustices? The geologic metaphor of the anthropocene spurs us to consider how hegemonic impositions generate irrevocable erosion in the harmonic structures of life. At the same time, this current ecologic crisis offers the possibility to imagine and recognize other political, economic, and discursive orders in the production, cohabitation, and power relations between all forms of life, human and nonhuman.
In this 25th annual LAILAC graduate student conference, we aim to explore how the irruption of environmental humanities enriches the possibilities for cultural, literary, audiovisual, sociolinguistic, anthropological, media, and artistic studies related (but not limited to) the following themes:
-Aesthetics and the poetics of the anthropocene
-Ecocriticism: cultural, literary, and visual studies related to the environment
-Glotopolitics and discursive analysis of climate change
-Capitalism, survival, and precarity
-Indigenous resistance, social movements, and political action
-Borders, transnationalism, legislation, and environmental responsibility
-Diaspora, displacements, and migrations
-Coloniality and decoloniality: biopolitics, affect, and vulnerabilities
-Anti-racist ecology
-Crisis, disasters, and climate emergencies
-Ecofeminism and intersectionality
-Material violence: extraction, deforestation, and pollution
-Futures and temporalities: apocalyptic narratives and utopias
The doctoral students in the Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultures (LAILAC) department at the Graduate Center, CUNY in New York City invite you to send abstracts (no more than 250 words) to congreso.lailac.gc.cuny@gmail.com before 3 February 2020. Please include your name, contact information, academic affiliation and if you require audiovisual equipment in the body of your email. Presentations should be limited to 20 minutes and can be in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Other Iberian or Latin American languages are also welcome.

We accept proposals in Spanish, Portuguese, and English (other Iberian and Latin American languages are welcome) in the following formats:
-Table or collective panel (60 minutes)
-Individual presentation (20 minutes)
-Workshop (40 minutes)
– Round table: individual presentation (5 minutes) and debate (35 minutes)

Resilient Habitat Program Workshop Ecole National Architecture et Paysage de Bordeaux 13-14-15 Janvier 2021






Workshop Resilient Thinking Design

2020 Barcelona Week Design


Workshop in which the participants ask themselves questions about the current systemic crisis, begin an analysis of current risks, develop a brainstorming and finally define how to initiate a sustainable “Transition” process toward the 22nd century.

Design based on “resilient thinking”, also called “transition design”, comes from the science of ecology/sustainability and from the design discipline (EINA Research Group for Design for Social Innovation. Art and Design in Transition) which allows us to analyze, understand and act in the face of systemic changes (such as climate change, social justice and/or pandemics) based on the study of the evolutionary dynamics of the networks of complex systems such as a territory, a community, a company or institution.

The metaphor of resilience represented by the infinity symbol allows us to go beyond linear, fragmentary thinking toward complex, holistic thinking.

Professor: Rafael de Balanzó.

DATE and TIME: November 26th at 19h

ACCESS: free with pre-registration




@Murad Resilience Thinking Design

30 d’abril 2020 

Taller de “Resilience Thinking Design” https://blog.eina.cat/ca/taller-de-resilience-thinking-design-amb-rafael-de-balanzo/5ea9912b720318052e0b5229

Rafael de Balanzó, dissenyador urbà i professor del Màster de Social Practice de la City University de Nova York, ha impartit un taller de Resilience Thinking Design en el marc del Màster Universitari de Recerca en Art i Disseny d’EINA. L’objectiu del taller ha estat introduir l’alumnat en el pensament resilient i facilitar eines per a aprendre a enfrontar-se als desafiaments existents i als futurs, en un context actual de gran complexitat.

El disseny resilient prové de la ciència de la complexitat i de la sostenibilitat (1). Permet analitzar, comprendre i actuar davant canvis sistèmics, com el canvi climàtic, la justícia social o les crisis econòmiques, permetent l’estudi de les dinàmiques de les xarxes de sistemes complexos, tal com un territori, una disciplina, una institució, una comunitat, un espai natural o fins i tot el nostre planeta terra. La metàfora de la resiliència està basada en el cicle adaptatiu (2) que permet superar el pensament lineal i fragmentari (problema –> solució) cap a un pensament complex i holístic. Es tenen en compte els conceptes de la multidisciplinarietat i la governança múltiple, mitjançant la introducció de diferents nivells de la complexitat en l’anàlisi i la prospecció, influenciada per processos de revolta i estabilització –anomenat panarquia (3)–, amb la mateixa etimologia que la paraula pandèmia (“ens afecta a tots”).

En el taller, els i les participants van triar etiquetes per a la difusió dels projectes, tal com #resilientthinkingdesign (Fayna Nieves Ramos), #adaptivecycle (Carmen Montiel Cervantes) o #infiniteresilience (María Antonia Gaviria Hernández).

Les preguntes de partida per iniciar el taller, en plena crisi de confinament mundial del Covid-19 a l’abril de 2020, per a la prospecció d’idees i accions emergents, van ser les següents:

  • Quines són les causes del procés de destrucció creativa a causa de la crisi del Covid-19 i com afecta a la disciplina del disseny?
  • Quina és la naturalesa d’aquest procés de destrucció creativa?
  • Quins són els futurs processos de reorganització a partir de la metàfora del disseny resilient per aprendre a preparar-se per a les futures crisis sistèmiques?



Pendant les jours jeudi 16 et 17 janvier 2020, Urban Resilience Institute, Action Without Borders et Architectes Sans Frontieres International ont organisés l’ Atelier, Programme Habitat Resilient au Garage Moderne, Quartier Bacalan, Bordeaux, France en collaboration avec l’Association Garage Moderne du quartier Bacalan, l’Ecole d’Arhitecture et Paysage de Bordeaux au sein du Marter Rebuildng The World et le soutien de la Mairie de Bordeaux, Michele Concordet, Regie d’urbanisme.

Atelier Programme Habitat Resilient, Quartier, France, Atelier Garage ModerneBacalan, Le Garage Moderne, 1 Rue des étrangers 33300 BORDEAUX https://www.legaragemoderne.org/

Comanditaires :   •Association Garage Moderne (quartier Bacalan), •Ecole d’Arhitecture et Paysage de Bordeaux •Mairie de Bordeaux, Michele Concordet, regie d’urbanisme •

10ème session Janvier 2020 :


Production sociale de l’habitat et résilience. Présentation de la methodologie du Plan Barrio

Présentation du projet réalisé dans un quartier précaire da la ville de Ibagüe, Colombie, moyennant l’application du programme Habitat (méthodologie avec la participation d’étudiants et d’habitants financée par la Fondation Fulbrigth) . Exemples en Andalucie et en Amerique Latine. Le cas du quartier Salsipuedes en République Dominicaine.


Preparing One Planet Exhibition for the 50th Anniversary Earth Day, 22nd April 2020

The CUNY Queens College Art Center at Queens Borough, New York City, located on the 6th floor of Rosenthal Library, will launch “Our Planet,” a multidisciplinary art exhibition be related to the themes of conservation, industry, agriculture, our bodies, urban ecology, and the like in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, that opening will be the 22nd of April Earth Day 2020.

The mobile cart initiative launches the mobile exhibition “Resilient Thinking Collaborative Tool Cart Initiative” in two different cities such as Barcelona and New York, curated and designed by Rafael de Balanzo with the support of SPQ Green Lab, CUNY arts, QC CERRU Institute, EINA/MURAD/UAB and Urban Resilience Institute. This initiative will be developed during the 14th, 15th  and 16th of April 2020 at Vallcarca neighborhood and Tres turons Park in Barcelona, Spain, and at the CUNY Queens College Campus, New York, US from the 22nd of April to the end of May 2020 and launching several workshops as an ongoing and continuing enriching envisioning process for the earth.

Title: Earth and Habitat Resilience Thinking Approach Cart

Dimensions: 15.5 inches” * 31”* 70 (height)

Description/relation to the show theme of each piece you choose to submit

During this 2020 Earth Day 50th anniversary, the Resilient Thinking Collaborative Tool Cart Initiative, created by the Urban Resilience Institute founded by Rafael de Balanzo, celebrates that aims at promoting urban sustainability and resilience, following the 2030 United Nations’ guidelines on Sustainable Development Goals.

Resilient Thinking Collaborative Tool Cart Initiative created by Rafael de Balanzo with the collaboration of CUNY students became a collaborative initiative to collect participants records of the territories/habitats struggles and vulnerabilities in front of systemic changes such as climate change, neighbors displacement and economic crisis and promote an ambitious 2050 Earth vision.  

The mobile cart is an eponymous symbol of earth extinction and a multi-governance and transdisciplinary collaborative envision by the “infinity symbolic charts” drawings based on the adaptive cycle as a conceptual model from ecology science to portray patterns of change in complex adaptive systems . These drawings are conducted from two distinct activities with the participants included in the Resilient Thinking Collaborative Approach Workshop.  First, they identified the different short- and long-term stresses/changes that habitats has experienced in the past or may experience in the future. These stresses or vulnerabilities includes (but are not limited to) climate change, gentrification processes or future speculative real-estate development. Second, they explored how these different challenges generate a window of opportunity for change, in which different actors (citizens, grass-root movements, environmental activists and artists) unify forces to create change—also known as the creative destruction process.  By the end of these activities, participants were familiar with concepts such as resilience thinking approach and engaged in brainstorming on the future pathway for habitats celebrating and carrying the Resilient Thinking Exhibition Cart with a promenade through these territories promoting sustainability and resilient pathways.

The mobile cart initiative launches the mobile exhibition “Resilient Thinking Collaborative Tool Cart Initiative” in two different cities such as Barcelona and New York, curated and designed by Rafael de Balanzo with the support of SPQ Green Lab, CUNY arts, QC CERRU Institute, EINA/MURAD/UAB and Urban Resilience Institute. This initiative will be developed during the 14th, 15th  and 16th of April 2020 at Vallcarca neighborhood and Tres turons Park in Barcelona, Spain, and at the CUNY Queens College Campus, New York, US from the 22nd of April to the end of May 2020 and launching several workshops as an ongoing and continuing enriching envisioning process for the earth.

Dr. Rafael de Balanzo is an activist, architect, Urban Designer, artist, sustainability expert and CUNY/UAB adjunct faculty.







“Re-imagining Leadership” is the theme of this year’s event. The panelist will be leaders of current and pressing issues we face today:

Resilient Thinking Collaborative Workshop is an activity that will explore how the QC community is prepared in front of Climate Change.

Why? Because QC community is vulnerable as a adaptive complex system

workshop with Queens College Community

Climate Change and Complexity (Interrelated Complex systems) such as the QC community as a complex adaptive system integrated by human, natural and built environment systems interrelated.

QC community, (as others complex systems) is vulnerable to internal and external drivers such as climate change for QC COMMUNITY RESILIENCY by Re-imagining Leadership



SPQ Green Lab was supported by the office of the Associate Vice Chancellor of the City University of New York, CUNY Arts, as well as The Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation.


SPQ’s held its first ever program on Governor’s Island on Saturday October 5th. From 11:30 AM to 5:30 PM, we had back to back workshops based in the Urban Farm and the new covered structure, dubbed “The Lab,”. One current certificate student, two alumni, and a faculty member presented their projects around this year’s broad environmental theme.

Resilient Thinking Collaborative Workshop by QC Urban Studies professor, Rafael de Balanzo Joue

Rafael’s workshop addressed some of the very things we had already experienced and talked about that day. Just as the island was passed down (sometimes violently or aggressively) through different owners, bringing us to the present moment where cultural groups are now invited to occupy the architectural shells from America’s colonial past (sans electricity and proper building codes for cooking) – so the island would go through more cycles of being built up, destroyed, and recreated. Rafael researches these cycles of “creative destruction” whereby catastrophes, both social and ecological, make way for once marginal agents to rebuild their environments. In the workshop, Rafael directed people to form groups and think about Governors Island’s past cycles and possible futures, taking to account its assets and potential deficits. Many identified real estate development as a potential danger for the natural and creative environment that the island could nurture.

The groups moved outdoors to share the results of their brainstorming, though time ran out to take their findings on the road to engage more of the public via research cart. Many students from Rafael’s classes came out to participate, and a few stayed on to check out the other events in the day.





Let’s participate! See you at the Re-Imagining Leadership #13thNovember #New York #Innovation Exchange #CERRU #CenterEthniceRaceReligiousUnderstanding #CUNY #QueensCollege #ClimateChange

Resilient Thinking Workshop CERRU 2019

How Climate Change will affect @QueensCollege Community in 2050?

@urbanresilienceinstitute @rbalanzo #ResilientThinkingApproach






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Social Practice Queens (SPQ) Green Lab is a one-day event featuring experimental projects and workshops by CUNY students, alumni, and faculty, rooted in their ongoing research practices. Hosted in the new  Lab at the Urban Farm, these site-specific projects address our multifaceted and often troubled relationship to the environment. They consider our use of land over time: from the colonial past to the future of climate change, from microorganisms in the soil to our own bodies in the landscape, from local conditions to the global community.

DATE: Saturday October 5, 2019

LOCATION: Governors Island, The Lab at the Urban Farm (See full map and directions here)

TIME: 11:30AM–5:30PM

RSVP on Facebook (TBA)

SCHEDULE11:30-12:45 Cooking and Communing: Shewashsapan (Grape Dumplings) – a Lenape recipe by Touching Leaves Woman

12:45-2:45  Resilient Thinking Collaborative Workshop:

Professor Rafael de Balanzo

Rafael and a group of Queens College students will facilitate a workshop in which we will identify the different short- and long-term stresses that Governors Island has experienced in the past or may experience in the future, including climate change, government programs or future real-estate development. We will explore how these different challenges generate a window of opportunity for change, in which different actors unify forces to create change—also known as creative destruction process.  By the end of this workshop, participants will be familiar with concepts such as resilience thinking approach or urban sustainability, and will engage in brainstorming on the future path for Governor’s Island.

2:45-4:00   Glomalin2020

4:00-5:30   Tierra espacio para habitar: How to fall in love with a river

GI_Urban Farm Classroom map


Cooking and Communing: Shewashsapan (Grape Dumplings) – a Lenape recipe by Touching Leaves Woman – Jamerry Kim

In response to the plaque that tells the historical story of the Dutch settler who bought Governors Island from the Lenape Indians for “two ax heads, a string of beads, and a handful of nails in 1637”: To welcome the Fall season and to acknowledge the land we stand at Governors Island, we will cook a traditional Lenape Indian recipe using grapes to make dumpling soup. The recipe comes from the cookbook titled “Lenape Indian Cooking with Touching Leaves Woman.” Kim will give a small presentation of Lenape cooking history according to Touching Leaves Woman, facilitate the group preparation of grape dumplings and corn fritters and enjoy them together.

Glomalin2020 – Bethany Fancher

An interactive presentation with t-shirt prizes – Come learn about the literal underground candidate, Glomalin, and learn how building healthy soil can reverse the worsening CO2 levels in the atmosphere, increase yield and profitability for farmers, and grow vegetables with higher nutrient value and deliciousness to keep us healthier. Glomalin is the great connector, not the divider! Your purchase power becomes your vote.

Tierra espacio para habitar: How to fall in love with a river, pt. 3

– Erin Turner & Alix Camacho-Vargas

Turner and Camacho-Vargas will present their collaborative walking project that invokes Governors Island’s ecology in order to create a dialogue between the human body, the regional landscape, and the larger context of world affairs. We will explore walking as an aesthetic practice through a series of ‘games’: Inspired by Roland Barthes, “Fragments of a Lover’s Discourse,” we will utilize archival photographs and digital photographs taken by the participants to create collages, love letters, walking scores, and/or ephemeral artworks. We will examine a variety of perspectives to consider how we connect to space and to our natural resources. At the end of the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to utilize their works as a form of resistance to urgent and significant landscape issues in the United States.


Jamerry Kim is a conceptual multimedia artist currently working on a socially engaged project that addresses language, history, and place for the SPQ Certificate Program. Kim has also participated in the Athena Film Festival, Full Frame International Film Festival, San Francisco TFF, and the Korean American NY Film Festival.

Rafael de Balanzo, is a professor in the QC Urban Studies Department, Director of “Actions Without Borders” for the International Union of Architects (AWB-UIA), and a frequent collaborator with SPQ.

Bethany Fancher is a transdisciplinary sculptor, photographer, performer, video maker and community-based artist who holds a certificate from SPQ.

Erin Turner is a graduate of the QC MFA in Social Practice as well as a site-specific installation artist who is interested in land-based practices, preservation, and collaboration. She is a collaborator and nomadic resident of Tierra: espacio para habitar.

Alix Camacho-Vargas is a Colombian artist. She holds an MFA in Social Practice from CUNY, Queens College and a specialization in art education from the National University of Colombia. She is the founder of Tierra: espacio para habitar, a project and nomadic residency that generates collaborations between art, pedagogy, and landscape.

SPQ Green Lab is supported by the office of the Associate Vice Chancellor of the City University of New York as well as The Shelly & Donald Rubin Foundation. 

CUNY logo
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JOIN US FOR THE #LOISADA@nyc@loisaidafestFESTIVAL 2019 #Sunday
@queenscollegeofficial students from #urbanstudies and Social Practice Queens will participate and present their Research Projects

The MOBILE carts project invites you to participate for the DIY workshop mobile carts on friday afternoon at @loisaidainc.center and for the parade by mapping out the past and connecting it to the future Puerto-Rico and Loisaida vision 2050
In collaboration with Nandini Bagchee, @rafaeldebalanzo, QCurbanStudiesDepartment
and Social Practice Queens.

The Loisaida Festival that will be informing future projects at our center. The carts project invites you to participate by mapping out the past and connecting it to the future. 
In collaboration with Nandini Bagchee, Rafael de Balanzo and Social Practice Queens. 

Jacqueline Perrone

Aracelia Cook

Kevin Elder

Urban Studies Class 732

Professor: Dr. Rafael De Balanzo

Our research project consists of three parts. The first part will be on the history of Puerto Rico. The second part will be on the community of Loiza in Peurto Rico after Hurricane Maria and how this community transformed a local baseball field and restaurant with the help of a few celebrities. The third part will summarize the past, present, and future of the Lower East Side and Puerto Rico. We will include our hands-on approach with the Lower East Side community in regards to, interviews, videos, vision board, and surveys. We will conclude our research by participating in the local Loisaida Parade on May 26, 2019, to bring public awareness to the land vacancies in the area with our research and collect more data from our surveys. The group intends to give this data to the Loisaida Center for public change. We hope to show the resiliency of the Lower Esat Side Community and Peurto Rico.

Community Gardens in San Juan, Puerto Rico /Huertos Comunitarios en San Juan, Puerto Rico
Naxielly Dominguez
After Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, the island was left with destruction and it accentuated the economic, political, social, health and food problems that have been present for the past decade. Millions of Puerto Ricans were without power, water, shelter, and subject to a collapsing food system. About 85 percent of its food is imported and it has an outdated agriculture industry. It is highly dependent on food imports and increases the level of vulnerability of its population. Puerto Ricans need a sustainable food system to contribute to the recovery and reconstruction of their community. The lack of proper governmental crisis management forced the people to find alternative ways to increase food security. Information was collected from different sources to create an illustrative image of the locations of various community gardens and production sites in the municipality of San Juan. My research findings indicate that the municipality of San Juan has the potential to increase the supply of fresh local fruits and vegetables within the local community. Urban agriculture in the form of community gardens will contribute to increase local economic investment, reduce food waste, decrease CO emissions, increase nutrition value and promote sustainable agriculture. These results illustrate how tactical urbanism projects could strengthen urban communities and promote effective environmental, social, and health improvements.

Joaly Burgos, Cassildra Aguilera

Professor de Balanzo


May 3rd, 2019

Abstract: Envisioning a Puerto Rico by The People

            This project focuses on the experience of Puerto Ricans that have been affected by Hurricane Maria that reside in Puerto Rico and in the United States. The project will allow Puerto Ricans to discuss the fragile infrastructure that Puerto Rico had in place prior to Hurricane allowing for each participant to provide feedback in a resilient community. The project and research will be facilitated through personal interviews, research around infrastructure for supportive services such as hospitals, schools, etc. that are currently up and running and the need for additional community supports. The end result will produce a model that replicates San Juan prompting participants to Envision a resilient Puerto Rico .


FULBRIGHT 2019 CHAIR Resilient Thinking Approach HABITAT Workshop & Seminar, Tolima University, Colombia

Ibagué, abril , 23, 24, 25 y 26 de 2019. 

Los talleres participativos para un barrio y habitat resiliente se realizaron con el semillero de ciudad 3000, integrado por profesores y estudiantes de Arte, Ciencas Sociales y Arquitectura de la Universidad del Tolima en el barrio de Milagro de Dios de Ibague, Colombia.

La jornada académica se realizaron en alianza entre Fulbright Colombia; CUNY, Queens Collge: AWB/UIA, Urban Resilience Thinking Institute y la Universidad del Tolima; y fue financiada por la Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Colombia. un espacio de diálogo interdisciplinario en torno a acciones barriales, artísticas, comunitarias y organizativas que surgen en respuesta a impactos sociales, económicos, ambientales, políticos y/o violentos en diversos contextos y a niveles multi-escalares.

A través del análisis desde distintos campos del conocimiento, de la relación entre crisis y reorganización, la Cátedra buscó evidenciar particularidades y posibilidades micro-políticas y macro-políticas presentes en los objetivos, los modos de acción y el alcance de los procesos e investigaciones que se presentarán durante la jornada.

La programación que se llevó a cabo fue la siguiente:

1. Resiliencia: crisis y reorganización.

Rafael de Balanzó: arquitecto, magíster en Arquitectura del Paisaje, por la Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Barcelona; y doctor en Ciencia de la Sostenibilidad por la Barcelona Tech, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña. Es profesor para los departamentos de Geografía, Ciencias Ambientales, Estudios urbanos y Economía de Queens College and Hunter College at City University of New York, CUNY.

2. Resiliencia y alteridad: la transformación de las prácticas artísticas desde el trabajo con “el otro”.

Juan Carlos Arias Herrera: docente investigador en las áreas de historia del arte, estética y teoría del cine, y realización documental. Doctor en Historia del Arte de la University of Illinois at Chicago.

3. Amparados y des-amparados en los procesos de urbanización de la ciudad contemporánea.

Miguel Antonio Espinosa Rico: coordinador del Grupo Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre el Territorio “Yuma íma”. Director de “Espacio Tiempo en Sociedad – Didáctica de las Ciencias Sociales”. Es Licenciado en Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad del Tolima, magíster en Geografía y candidato a Ph.D. en Geografía por la Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

4. Proyecto “TIERRA: espacio para habitar”

Alix Camacho Vargas: docente de la Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Artista y gestora cultural  con maestría en Social Practice de CUNY, Queens College.

Erin Turner: artista visual. Su práctica se centra en la tierra y la preservación. Por medio de su obra cuestiona el uso privado y público de la tierra. Su trabajo ha hecho parte de exposiciones en Governors Island Art Fair (NYC), Queens Museum (NYC), CODA Apeldoorn (Países Bajos), Sideshow Gallery (Brooklyn) y Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa Hardesty Arts Center (Oklahoma) y otros lugares en India, Tailandia, Francia, Argentina y los Países Bajos.

5. Conversación. Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida de Ibagué

Ángela Castillo: antropóloga de la Universidad Nacional de Colombia, magíster en Geografía de la Universidad de los Andes y candidata a Ph.D. del Departamento de Antropología de la Universidad de California, Berkeley.

Conferencistas participantes

 APRIL 30, 2019


Urban Resilience Institute and Rafael de Balanzo is very proud to be part of the winner team (Estudi Martí Franch Arquitectura del Paisatge, SL , Raons Publiques, SERPA, ESTEYCO, Patricia Perez and Juan Moreno) for the Barcelona Tres Turons Park Competition:    ORDER & ADVENTURE PROPOSAL


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The competition has THREE FINAL WINNING PROJECTS TO REVITALIZE THE PARC DELS TRES TURONS as a green lung for the city, preserving its biodiversity, fostering activity and improving its relationship with adjacent neighborhoods. Each of the winning proposals will develop a draft project for a sector of the park, which will then be defined through a consensual project with local residents.

The Parc dels Tres Turons is the most prominent natural space along the Collserola-Ciutadella green corridor and one of the largest in Barcelona (123 hectares). It includes the hilltops of La Rovira, El Carmel and La Creueta del Coll and also stands out for its diverse habitats, the amount of greenery and the rich fauna that lives there. The area involved covers 82 hectares of the park, land which is categorized as parks and gardens according to the urban planning classification of 2010, with three different sectors. It excludes the consolidated parks of Park Güell, Parc de la Creueta del Coll and the historical part of the Parc del Guinardó.


The proposal ORDER & ADVENTURE” centers on the northern and north-western strip of the park, the section closest to the urban surroundings, the idea being to achieve greater continuity between the green area and the residential areas.

The project works in two main ways:

  • The connection between the park and public transport, particularly six metro stations.
  • A string of linear interconnecting gardens around the perimeter of the park, helping integrate the green space and the surrounding neighborhoods by social Practice co-design strategies, promoting circular economy and the future Habitat Park Resilient Strategic Plan 2050.



New Paper published at Ecology and Society Journal: Urban Resilience thinking methodology applied for Cities Dynamics Analysis by Rafael de Balanzo and Nuria Rodriguez-Planas.

DE BALANZÓ, Rafael; RODRÍGUEZ-PLANAS, Núria. (2018) 

Crisis and reorganization in urban dynamics: the Barcelona city, case study. 

Ecology and Society, 2018, vol. 23, no 4.

link: ES-2018-10396

ABSTRACT. We use adaptive cycle theory to improve the understanding of cycles of urban change in the city of Barcelona, Spain, from 1953 to 2016. More specifically, we explore the vulnerabilities and windows of opportunity these cycles of change introduced in the release (Ω) and reorganization (α) phases. In the two recurring cycles of urban change analyzed (before and after 1979), we observe two complementary loops. During the front loop, financial and natural resources are efficiently exploited by homogeneous dominant groups (private developers, the bourgeoisie, politicians, technocrats) with the objective of promoting capital accumulation based on
private (or private-public partnership) investments. During the back loop, change is catalyzed by heterogeneous urban social networks (neighborhood associations, activists, squatters, cooperatives, nongovernmental organizations) whose objectives are diverse but converge in their discontent with the status quo and their desire for a “common good” that includes social justice, social cohesion, participatory governance, and well-being for all. The heterogeneity of these social networks (shadow groups) fosters learning, experimentation, and social innovation and gives them the flexibility that the front loop’s dominant groups lack to trigger growing pressures for transformation, not only within, but also across spatial and temporal dimensions, promoting panarchy. At the end, the reorganization phase (α) becomes a competition or negotiation between potential directions and outcomes (including conservative leanings and intentional bottom-up change) to restore the former system.

Key Words: adaptive cycle theory; back loop; Barcelona urban planning; Barcelona’s urban (sustainable) design era; crisis; panarchy; release (Ω) and reorganization (α) phases; social innovation; social justice; urban change dynamics; urban resilience.





Art Against Austerity/Memories of Disinvestment:                                       A Journal

Art Against Austerity is a social practice project connecting artists, researchers and urban tactitIans with local organizers and historians of resistance against austerity, displacement, land speculation and gentrification in and around the city of San Juan, Puerto Rican. The project is a collaboration between Social Practice Queens (SPQ), Queens College CUNY Urban Studies Department. In December of 2017 QC Provost Elizabeth Hendry and Interim Associate Provost William McClure we were generously awarded a grant to initiate phase one of the project. What follows  does not necessarily reflect the opinions of other team members or of Queens College, but represents my impressions and observations of this first fact-gathering research trip.

Between May 12th and May 26th 2018 four researchers traveled from Queens College CUNY to San Juan Puerto Rico in order to gather information and develop contacts for our ongoing project focusing on community-based forms of rebuilding and resistance taking place on the island following the post-2008 bankruptcy and of course the devastating effects of two hurricanes in the Fall of 2017. During this initial research phase of the project I was joined by Rafael De Balanzo: a Visiting Lecturer in the QC Urban Studies Program; Naomi Kuo: MFA student concentrating in social practice art; Kimberly Torres: a QC Urban Studies graduate student, and on many days interested auditor Lucrecia Laudi traveled with us bringing along her expertise as a Washington DC-based architect/urban designer who wanted to observe how our project got off the ground. Meanwhile, back in NYC, our other project members include Chloë Bass: Assistant Professor of Art and co-director of SPQ; Scott Larson: Urban Studies Program Professor; Jeff Kasper: artist and SPQ Associate Administrator; Libertad Guerra: Chief Curator and Artistic Director of the Loisaida Center; and Monxo Lopez: environmental activist and co-founder of South Bronx Unite.

Over the course of nine days we visited a number of  projects relevant to our research ranging from governmentally funded community assistance agencies to urban gardens and various squat occupations with assorted degrees of legality. The following blog post represent a journal of my impressions, observations and questions as we move forward on this SPQ project Art Against Austerity/Memories of Disinvestment.


Day One

Monday, May 21 2018

Our first full day in San Juan began with an interview for the local PBS radio station WRTU 89.7 and was followed by an impromptu visit to CAUCE, a community activist organization that is also sponsored by the University and we concluded the day over dinner with a reflection on our initial impressions about the issues affecting the island and its residents from crushing debt, to gentrification and land speculation, to a history of environmental damage and 120 years of essentially a colonial relationship to the mainland USA.

Dr. Carmen A. Perez Herranz greeted Rafael, Kim and me (Kimberly will arrive a day later) on the San Juan, Río Piedras branch of the University of Puerto Rico where she escorted us to the local PBS radio station located on the campus. Dr. Herranz teaches with the faculty of General Studies and is in the process of launching an Urban Studies Doctoral Program [Herranz, Pollock, Edwards] hopefully within the next year.  She is also an extraordinary font of knowledge about the issues that brought us to the island including the cycle of disinvestment, followed by so-called “rejuvenation,” and then gentrification and displacement and expulsion of local residents, small business and native culture. For approximately an hour this morning Dr. Herranz interviewed us on the air about our project and our own research and art.


Rafael explored his activity in his hometown of Barcelona, Spain focusing on grassroots organizing to resist evictions and develop community redevelopment in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial implosion. Naomi described her work in the Asian communities of Flushing, Queens where as a native of Houston, Texas she has for the past five years observed and interacted with other Taiwanese Americans, as well as Chinese Americans. Through her collage works that combine drawing, painting and found materials she has come to understand that minority communities recreate identity through a montage-like process by redefining their culture using both memory and what is available “at hand.” My own contribution pivoted on the anti-gentrification street art installation we carried out on New York’s Lower East Side in 1984 with PAD/D (Political Art Documentation/Distribution), and the site-specific historical mapping project REPOhistory produced in the 1990s, as well as our Social Practice Queens project at QC CUNY.

On and off the air, Dr. Herranz discussed with us some of the less immediately visible aspects of Puerto Rico’s history pointing out that a key turning point on the island took place in the 1940s when, in a sort of Robert Moses inspired discharge of concrete and macadam, the country’s fledgling public transit systems were discarded for miles of looping highways that connected cities and countryside into one enormous, automobile loving network. This in turn led to the suburbanization of much of the island as tropical style villages and rural landscapes were subsumed by housing developments resembling much of the US mainland. And while this superimposed cement matrix worked well for what French Situationist theorist Guy Debord acerbically labeled “The Dictatorship of the Automobile,”

the human and environmental outcome was a fragmentation of organically structured social spaces and ecologies leading to fractured communities and spaces not unlike greater Los Angeles or The Bronx. Logically at this time Puerto Rico became increasingly dependent on the US car industry and of course the petroleum economy, while at the same time local agriculture, industries and crafts were dispersed and replaced with a system of imported foods and services, a reality we discovered first hand when shopping for groceries and finding that the only produce we found grown in Puerto Rico was basil, the only product was a bottle of hot pepper sauce.

During our visit to the University we discovered a space squatted by students. We also met with professors Eva de Lourdes Edwards, Gene Edwards and Janet Saumell a graduate student working with Dr. Herranz. Their range of interests was captivating and included studying the history and culture of the Caribbean region through its poetry and literature (Dr. Eva Edwards), focusing on the underground street art and graffiti that often expresses the real subterranean feelings of Puerto Ricans (Gene Edwards), and the macro suburbanization of the island by US-based development policies starting as far back as the 1940s and 1950s (Dr. Carmen Herranz). In conversations with graduate student Janet Saumell –whose family came to PR from Cuba years earlier– it became clear that one immaterial but no less significant outcome of both the island’s ongoing economic crisis (especially after the 2008 real estate and financial meltdown), followed by the two 2017 hurricanes (Maria and a lesser degree Irma) is a collective paradigm shift in which many Puerto Ricans who once imagined themselves to be middle class Americans now view their status visa-vie the United States as second-class citizens living in a colony. This was a sentiment in fact echoed by other island residents throughout the time of our visit.

Later the same day we drove a short distance from the campus to a unique community action project run by the University known as CAUCE: Centro de Acción Urbana, Comunitaria y Empresarial de Río Piedras (The Urban, Community and Business Action Center of Río Piedras), though driving in San Juan was complicated by the absence of most traffic lights following Maria’s devastation of the city’s infrastructure. What I found impressive however, is they way Puerto Rican drivers have worked-out a system for dealing with this problem. A certain number of cars would flow through an intersection in one direction. Then this group would stop and wait for the perpendicular street’s traffic to do the same, just as if an invisible green, yellow and red light hovered overhead as always. This urban gallantry became more complicated with multi-lane boulevards involving left turns across several lanes of traffic. And yet even this complicated maneuver was managed with remarkable calm. Hardly did I even hear a car horn during my entire trip. Whether or not such self-restraint is particular to Puerto Rican island culture, or a development in response to extreme post-Maria conditions is unclear, but methinks were a similar signaling blackout to befall Manhattan the outcome unlikely be so civil, at least based on my forty some years of experience on our concrete island.

CAUCE’s Executive Director Dr. Mercedes Rivera Morales generously met with our research group on short-notice. She described to us that CAUCEis a locally-based organization that is simultaneously a program supported by the University. CAUCE’s mission is to assist the nearby community in rebuilding the economy of the river basin region, though the project has also engaged in resistance to top-down development schemes. When the Puerto Rican government began excavating a site for an enormous new government office tower that it claimed would serve as a spur for regenerating the area’s businesses, community members had reason to believe that residential displacement and gentrification would be the actual outcome of the project. CAUCE supported neighborhood demonstrators who protested and also chained themselves to construction site equipment, ultimately stopping the tower from being realized.

As an organization, CAUCE appears to be an unusual admixture of top-down and bottom-up grass roots activity. With funding from a large institution (the University) CAUCE’s local focus is centered within the specific community of Rio Piedras –a formerly independent municipality set along the shores of the river Piedras until its 1951 incorporation into San Juan proper. At the same time its larger goals appear dedicated to bringing about social change on a far broader level. For example, in her small neat office Dr. Morales has posted a copy of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals logo with its 17 objectives aimed at ending poverty and hunger, gender equality and renewable energy. Sitting on her desktop is also a calendar from Barcelona, Spain, perhaps the leading center for bottom-up urban transformation and direct-democracy. Barcelona also happens to be Professor Rafael Balanzó’s home country and the city where his research is primarily focused. These seemingly coincidental connections became less accidental in nature after further conversations with Dr. Morales whose commitment to social change at the local level is clearly informed by a more comprehensive analysis of poverty and injustice situated at the global level.

At the end of our first day of research Rafael whipped up a delicious and filling vegetarian & pasta meal in which sweet onions and garlic dominated Barcelona style, as Naomi innovated a fine salad dressing using clementine oranges and cashew nuts (we forgot to purchase lemons or vinegar). This gave us another opportunity for discussion in which soon enough questions about own position and roles as visiting academics, artists and architects, but also as outsiders to PR. Perhaps inevitably the paradigm of the so-called Creative Cities /Creative Class was a topic of debate including How do/did artists and academics fit in to that model?  Has it failed? Did it ever really work/have any merit? Could these ideas be “reused” in a form more in keeping with the commons and resistance to gentrification/displacement? Finally, how do we avoid producing a research paper and exhibition that will join the many, many other research white papers and art shows about these concerns, and yet in which nothing very much seems to actually improve?


Day Two.

Tuesday, May 22

This morning we were joined by Queens College Urban Studies graduate student Kimberly Torres, thus completing the research team for this initial phase of the project Art Against Austerity/Memories of Disinvestment. Today we focused the first half of the day visiting a couple of artists in the San Juan neighborhood of Santurce, then followed this up with a trip to a government and university sponsored development company on the Cantera Peninsula whose mission is to provide residents in one particular environmentally precarious part of the city with support, including relocation to non-flood prone neighborhoods but also in some instances legal title to their own homes that were often built by the residents or their parents using construction techniques apparently lost today.

Uziel Orlandi is a 20-something muralist in his own right and led us on a tour of the local graffiti subculture. Taking us to the Calle Canals underpass we were dazzled by spray-paint masterpieces the likes I have not seen in NYC since the 1970s and early 1980s (thought I have come across such street art in Barcelona and Athens). Though Javiar said he studied art for a while at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Diseño de Puerto Rico in Old San Juan (the art school, not the University) he expressed a strong alienation from the “art world” of museums and galleries, preferring instead a DIY approach to culture, an outlook that he insisted is commonplace amongst people of his generation. Proof of this assertion was not long in coming. Our next visit was with a Santurce-based painter, graphic artist and silk-screen entrepreneur. Uziel showed us to the back of a painfully ordinary photocopy shop where artist Javier Matura screens images and logos on bags, t-shirts and makes posters, some of his own design. His latest work was a graphic announcement for the 1970s post-punk New York band Television. Javier also expressed his disinterest in, or perhaps more accurately, his enmity towards “high” art, which both he and Javier associate with academic and institutional discourse.

Perhaps this rejection of white cube aesthetics and the link to 1970s/1980s DIY punk and post-punk music and culture is not entirely coincidental? I could not help but think of groups and projects I encountered in NYC back then including Collaborative Projects akd COLAB, The Real Estate Show, The Times Square Show, and East Village Art in general with its gritty, anti-formalist aesthetic that sought to overturn the abstract modernist paradigm of Greenberg et al. But if true, what on earth was this four decades old artistic model doing here in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 2018?

In the afternoon of our second day we traveled to a government sponsored program set on a lumpy peninsula that projects into the San José Lagoon roughly separating the larger urban area of San Juan from its airport. Decades earlier this region was settled by farmers and other rural migrants seeking to move close to the city in search of work. The Company for the Integral Development of the Cantera Peninsula (Company for the Integral Development of the Cantera Peninsula) comes in. The Company is a government sponsored program that works to upgrade local water, sewage and power systems, but most notably it also obtains proper legal titles to these decades-old homes, thus transforming residents into property owners.

Seeking to serve the people’s needs while guarding the fragility of the peninsula’s ecology is the stated mission of the Company explained spokesperson and project engineer Alfredo Pérez Zapata. Using a set of aerial maps he provided us with an overview of the Company’s target region and then offered to take us for a tour around the immediate neighborhood. We moved from his air-conditioned office to the hot and humid outdoors where Mr. Zapata pointed-out with barely concealed pride that many of the locally constructed homes withstood hurricane Maria rather impressively thanks to the indigenous building skills of an older generation of Puerto Ricans.

As we walked he pointed out the colloquial construction methods employed by residents involving combinations of wood, poured concrete, sheet metal roofs and siding, all of which is then set above an elevated foundation to guard against flooding. In other words, according to Mr. Zapata the locals had a sort of local, DIY knowledge regarding how to rig a structure against storm water and wind.  Sometime in the 1960s he believes, this local knowledge vanished. In any case, while the Company sports its own sleek, newly fabricated community center overlooking the lagoon, the surrounding vernacular homes are at the heart of its mission to established property rights for their owners. Is this program pushing back against the mass modernization of the island as explained by Dr. Herranz? We were left with more questions than answers. The Company’s approach also made me think of the once highly touted thesis to end poverty that was offered by Peruvian economist Hernando De Soto Polar in his 2000 book The Mystery of Capital.

De Soto’s methods were endorsed by Bill Clinton, Vincente Fox, Milton Friedman and even Margaret Thatcher among other prominent pro-market policy makers. His thesis is pretty straight forward. Why, he asks, does capitalism succeed in certain Western nations even as it fails in the Global South and elsewhere? The answer is that most residents of developing or underdeveloped nations are not actually property owners, not legally entitled to where they actually live, even though many have done so for generations. This means they have no way to enter into a system of leveraged credit to say startup a small business or make home improvements.

De Soto’s process of legitimating “dead capital” sought to bring back to life populations that now remain in the shadows of informal economies involving barter and other forms of non-market exchange. such gray economies undergird the actual social fabric of many developing and underdeveloped countries. De Soto proposed moving such assets from the margins underground into the formal economy where everyone would benefit: capitalists, businesspeople and the newly minted landowners turned consumers. In short, this is land reform without casualties. No expropriation or redistribution of property, only the tedious research task of providing people with a legal title to their actual residencies.

However, this neoliberal necromancy has not always worked its magic as planned. Swedish economic theorist Staffan Granér points out that “what de Soto presents as a simple confirmation of the informal rules is in fact a battlefield of conflicting interests and legal claims.” In other words, concrete issues of history, class and ultimately relations of power are not necessarily erased by legalizing claims to property, in fact they can be exacerbated leaving newly established land owners vulnerable to vulture capitalists and other speculators. But whether or not this caution pertains to the situation in Puerto Rico in general or to the Cantera Peninsula project is unclear. In truth we all thought that this program had merit on the face of it, especially if it is really backed up by the government when and if deep pocket developers came a calling with an eye to building luxury condominiums and hotels beside the lagoon.

As we strolled snapping pictures along the way like visitors from another world, many people greeted Mr. Zapata with obvious deference and more than once he stopped to chat with them. This was clearly not a cold institutional relationship. We also came across some curious public art installations with stuffed animals bound to a tree and a jet plane made of painted rubble (signs of dark matter creativity?). And all the while throughout our excursion a furry micro-municipality of neighborhood dogs, feral cats and one small pig kept track of our movements.


Day Three

Wednesday, May 23

Our primary task for the third day was to make our own brief presentations to students at the University of Puerto Rico working on urban studies coursework. Dr. Herranz introduced our team and one-by-one we discussed various aspects of our individual research and practice. I again focused on arts-related interventions from 1980s and 1990s New York and the Lower East Side (Loisaida), but also added documentation about my work with Gulf Labor Coalition, the informally organized international group of artists and cultural workers focused on labor justice for migrant workers involved with constructing high art museums including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Gulf Labor asks “who builds your architecture?”

Naomi displayed images of her large collage works based on Flushing, Queens Chinatown and discussed the aesthetics of what she called “Asian Spaces” involving the reuse of materials and the hybridization of identities whereby immigrants construct a relationship to their place of origin. She also pointed out that this “Minority-Majority” neighborhood has its own internal conflicts of nationality and class given the combination of Taiwanese, mainland Chinese, Korean and other groups that make it up.

Naomi concluded with a description of her quilting project “Common Thread,” a collaboration with Queens Memory at the Queens Library where local residents of all ethnicities gather and are encouraged to exchange sewing skills and reflect on their own histories.

Rafael presented his research involving the application of adaptive cycle theory to cycles of urban transformation in Barcelona from 1953 to 2017, in which two temporal developmental loops, the first dominated by private capital interests, the second emerging from networks of horizontal cooperative social movements including squatters, activists and community land associations. Citing from his work with Nuria Rodriguez-Planas “The heterogeneity of these social networks (shadow groups) fosters learning and social innovation and gives them the flexibility that the front-loop’s dominant groups lack to trigger change not only within but also across spatial scale (local community-based, neighborhood, city) and time dimensions, promoting a cross-scale process of revolt and stabilization, also known as Panarchy.” Wikipedia defines Panarchy as a combination of: “1) ecology and complex systems, 2) technology, and 3) politics.” While “the “pan” of ecological thinking draws on the Greek-god Pan as a symbol for wild and unpredictable nature.”

Kimberly acknowledged that she is still in a learning phase and interested in the way Community Land Trusts and hurricane relief efforts have or have not been successful as a means of opposing or reducing gentrification and displacement on the island.

Community Land Trusts as a means of fighting gentrification, displacement and uncontrolled commercial development is also the focus of Dr. Scott Larsons own research (see: Imagining Social Justice and the False Promise of Urban Park Design.) Following our discussions we had lunch with Dr. Herranz and students Gabriela Rebollo and Abner Fernandez. Gabriel provided some additional sites for us to visit including a squatted space on Day Five, while Abner commented dryly that while there is a lot of collective activity at the moment in Puerto Rico though very little collectivism. He reiterated that following the economic crisis and the storms the island has been revealed to be a colony of the United States above all else. He intends to move to Estonia to study semiotics at the University of Tartu. “We have no Puerto Rican identity per se because the island is pretty homogenous. We are not American, not Nuyorican, not ever really Puerto Rican. We are simply “us.”’

Day Four

Thursday, May 24

Thursday afternoon we traveled to Old San Juan to meet with Charles Juhasz-Alvarado and Ana Rosa Rivera Marrero who manage the remarkable art center La Casa De Los Contrafuertes. On the way there we spotted an enormous cruise ship towering over the harbor that brought about a flashback to recent travels in Venice, Italy where locals battle invasive tourism from the very same gleaming white multi-story vessels carrying thousands of passengers. The incongruity of scale is startling (for more about this phenomenon in Venice and its link to the art world and biennial see my piece: Venice Biennale – meet the activists repurposing the global art show.)

Once we arrived at the Contrafuertes space Charles and Ana took us on a tour of the center’s exhibition galleries, artist residency accommodation, and a large outdoor garden area which contains a stage for performances. It was immediately clear that their project has managed to claw-back a piece of Old San Juan from speculators and high-end luxury retailers by converting a former government museum into what might best be described as a Gesamtkunstwerk or all embracing, total work of art incorporating residencies for artists, a vegetable garden, exhibition spaces and a beehive themed library and reading room. Every detail of the building has been re-imagined from floor to ceiling to window treatments and hanging lights. Even an expertly installed exhibition of Haitian art works entitled “Haiti Aqui” offered an opportunity for subtle interventions including a rusted chain along the base of one wall to a framework of Russian Constructivist-like lattices holding up and framing several pieces. The overall effect made installations at the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico look remarkably conservative and uninspired.

For many years Charles has taught at the nearby art school (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico) and is highly regarded as both artist and teacher within the broader art community on the island and beyond. Ana Rosa is a renowned sculptor herself who graduated from the art school in 1992. They are in a sense part of an older Old San Juan arts community.  Together they impressed upon us the many challenges involved with running The Contrafuertes space including dealing with the government (that provides some support), expenses for programming (as artists they know how important it is to pay people who assist with events, though funds to do so are often lacking), and also pushing back against what they see as unscrupulous offerings to assist from potential backers with a very different vision of the project than their own. At one point Charles characterized one such encounter as a blatant art washing strategy where fiscal sponsorship would require artists to “perform” as, well as artists by working in studios made visible to the public, thus exhibiting the creative city as these precarious cultural laborers are soon replaced by upscale lofts and “artsy” retail stores. We know the drill, as does Charles and Ana who, needless to say, rejected this mode support.

And there are the dreaded “bit-coin people.” Charles described to us a visit from a couple of handsome young rich investors from California touting a surplus of crypto-currency capital and eager to become patrons of La Casa De Los Contrafuertes. Honestly, my initial thought was that this story reflected the somewhat eccentric artistic disposition of Charles until we began hearing the same scenario from a number of the people we met on our trip. A bit of Googling verified the veracity of the report. As one journalist puts it these “cryptocurrency entrepreneurs have moved to Puerto Rico to build a crypto utopia – initially dubbed Puertopia but now named Sol – where they plan to pay little in taxes.”

Later in the evening Contrafuertes hosted a jazz program that drew a sizable crowd to the center.Continue reading “ART AGAINST DISPLACEMENT PROJECT MAY 2018, SAN JUAN pPUERTO-RICO URBAN RESILIENCE THINKING PROJECT”


Urban Resilience Institute promotes an innovative Resilience Thinking Projet in San Juan Porto-Rico next May 2018. Professors Chloe Bass, Greg Scholette, Scott Larson and Rafael de Balanzo from Queens College, CUNY will start a resilience thinking project with local communities, Action Without Borders from International Union of Architects and the Urban Studies Department of the University of Puerto-Rico Ríos Piedras in San Juan.

Art and Resilience Thinking Against Austerity is an art and urban research project engaging artists, urban experts and activists in two distinct ways: first by focusing on the artistic representation of local histories of resistance against displacement, gentrification and the urban cityscape under pressure from austerity measures, and second, by printing imagery on garments, banners and other mobile objects that are to be choreographed into a energetic public procession we are calling the Pageantry ofResistance.

Art Against Austerity advances the scholarship and creative work of all four listed faculty members by offering the chance to work with a new urban community (San Juan, Puerto Rico) at a delicate phase of urban renewal and recovery. This is an urgent time to engage in such work, and offers many unique opportunities and challenges the disciplines of both urban studies and social practice art. This project also represents a significant step forward in the ongoing collaboration between the Art and Urban Studies departments at Queens College, which could be transferred into the development of new coursework or research opportunities for students in the future.

Workshops disseminate these skills to affected populations in both New York and Puerto Rico with the aim of establishing self-replicating DIY collective actions. These Pageants of Resistance also become the visual anchor for actions whose online dissemination seeks to replicate the Art Against Austerity process for use by those engaged in similar struggles at other sites of contention around the globe. Simultaneously, the project is to be publicized and amplified throughout the three grassroots communities via organizing and educational efforts of local activists including San Juan Puerto Rico, all of which are invested in developing Community Land Trusts (CLTs or Fideicomisos) as a means of locally-controlling urban development, preserving cultural forms and narratives, and generating alternatives to the disinvestment, speculation and displacement cycle. Our long-range expectation is to build a sustainable collaborative network that links these various locations together in a combined struggle against disinvestment, speculation and displacement.

The following articulates the existing scholarly/creative work of the four contributing faculty members as relevant to the development of Art Against Austerity:

  • Gregory Sholette (Art) has long been involved with community-based creative projects focusing on housing and labor equity from his efforts with interdisciplinary collaborative group REPOhistory, which focused on history’s relationship to contemporary society, to his ongoing organizing efforts with GULF Labor and its attempts to artistically illuminate poor worker practices perpetuated by major cultural institutions. This work also dovetails with recent creative research projects Dr. Sholette has conducted with students from Social Practice Queens (SPQ) such as the Precarious Workers Pageant staged in the 2015 Venice Biennale.
  • Chloë Bass (Art) has conducted art- and architecture-based research connecting similar urban development efforts in disparate cities and states, including a major 2010 – 2012 project linking Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Detroit, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, with the art and architecture organization SUPERFRONT, supported in part by the Queens Museum(New York), Pacific Design Center (Los Angeles), Marygrove College (Detroit) and the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico.
  • Rafael De Balanzo (Urban Studies) is an artist, urban designer, and researcher studying cycles of urban change. His recent work has focused on the role of the arts in urban resilience, focusing on efforts in Catalonia and particularly in the city of Barcelona. He recommends strategies beyond traditional government intervention, focusing on grassroots elements of design, human congregation, and political engagement. He is particularly focused on reorganization methods instituted in the aftermath of crisis including climate change and natural disasters. His work has been supported by the Goethe Institut among other institutions.
  • Scott Larson (Urban Studies) conducts research/work centered around urban development, with a particular focus on alternatives to existing capital-centric, real estate-oriented models.




Paper City from and for All. AWB/UIA Congress 2017 .

Ponencia_Todos Hacemos la ciudad

Please find enclosed our paper.

Final_Paper_Ponencia_Todos Hacemos la ciudad_ENG_2017_September

Kissena Park Social-ecological self-reliant System Workshop


























La ciudad y lo urbano en el cambio de época

Este es un libro sobre ciudades. Un libro sobre cómo las grandes
ciudades españolas afrontan la crisis y hasta qué punto podemos
detectar cambios significativos en la forma de encarar las oportunidades
y problemas que se plantean en esos escenarios urbanos. Como
sabemos, la ciudad es un ámbito esencial a la hora de intervenir y
experimentar en momentos en que están en marcha grandes cambios
y en los que las respuestas convencionales no parecen funcionar.
El ámbito urbano es, por su condición de espacio donde la gran
mayoría de las personas desarrollamos lo fundamental de nuestra
existencia, el lugar apropiado para poner en marcha procesos de
transformación social orientados a la modificación de ideas y de
prácticas sociales alternativas.

En el libro damos un espacio notable al debate más teórico y
conceptual sobre innovación social (capítulos de Imanol Zubero y
Clemente Navarro), sin olvidarnos de la vertiente más vinculada a
los temas de ecología urbana que han encontrado en la resiliencia un
punto de engarce significativo (capítulo Magrinyà-Balanzó). El libro
concentra su parte más significativa, como avanzábamos, en el análisis
de las experiencias que hemos caracterizado como «innovadoras» en
las cinco ciudades estudiadas: Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Valencia y


Actions Without Borders Work Program promotes Urban Resilience in Barcelona City.

In the last years, the Barcelona’s neighborhood of Vallcarca in Gràcia district has undergone the urban reforms proposed by the Modification of the General Metropolitan Plan in the area finally approved in 2002. This is a restructuring plan of the open areas and the roads of the neighborhood as well as renewal of the existing urban grid.

Given the current economic context, all pending projects in the neighborhood of Vallcarca, both private and public, have undergone adjustments in the execution frame, causing a sense of paralysis in the development of the neighborhood. It has further heightened the need to rethink some elements of this project and to recover the various open spaces in the neighborhood waiting to be transformed.

The workshop Jornadas participativas de Vallcarca – El barrio que queremos were held lat November 26-28, 2014.As a result of this workshop, the technical team supporting the board for dialogue and coexistence in Vallcarca, formed by Architects Without Borders and the International Union of Architects, prepared a report with the main conclusions. This document is available here.

After asking the administration and entities to create a shared workspace, another outcome of this workshop has been a joint working group. This group will address the different promoting projects in Vallcarca neighborhood, following the road map defined by the results of this Participatory Workshop.

“Vallcarca: urbanicidi i reconstrucció”. Revisió històrica del procés urbanístic 1976-2015

EXPOSICIÓ: “Vallcarca: urbanicidi i reconstrucció”. Revisió històrica del procés urbanístic 1976-2015.


El casc antic del barri barceloní de Vallcarca ha patit una degradació programada, sobretot des de mitjans dels anys 90. El que es veu ara és fruit d’un pacte premeditat, on han pesat més els interessos econòmics. Un urbanicidi gestat entre empreses promotores, constructores i l’ajuntament, que mai ha fet prou pel barri i el bé comú. Tot i que hi va haver períodes de molta mobilització veïnal, sobretot arran de l’aprovació l’any 2002 de la Modificació del Pla General Metropolità previst per Vallcarca, el cas és que en els darrers anys la realitat física i humana del casc antic del barri, que va mantenir durant dècades un ampli teixit comercial, s’ha anat transformant en detriment de les seves veïnes. Us presentem les fases imprescindibles per entendre com s’ha desenvolupat aquest procés urbanístic des de 1976 amb una seqüència de mapes i fotografies que ens indiquen la virulència i l’impacte físic que ha sofert el barri. Juntament amb un un recull cronòlogic d’informacions aparegudes en premsa, de les reaccions veïnals i del paper que han tingut les institucions. Així ho veureu reflexat a la present exposició, que també senyala elements característics i del patrimoni paisatgístic i humà del barri. A més, s’aposta per oferir propostes per encarar la reconstrucció del barri que volem i al llarg de l’exposició, que pretén ser dinàmica i no només estàtica, es duran a terme activitats per debatre al voltant de la situació en que ens trobem actualment. Tot i convertir-se en un niu per l’especulació urbanística aquest és un barri amb personalitat pròpia i actualment tenim sort que diverses entitats culturals hi desenvolupen la seva activitat a distints espais i sobretot hi ha un veïnat compromés, que mira de fer front al cúmul de despropòsits de l’ajuntament. Bona prova d’això són iniciatives com aquesta exposició de l’Arxiu i Observatori Actiu de Vallcarca que lluita per recuperar i documentar elements d’identitat del barri, a banda de generar i visualitzar propostes de present i futur pel mateix.

AGRAÏMENTS Volem agrair la col·laboració de totes aquelles i institucions i persones que han fet possible la realització d’aquesta exposició. Són l’Antic Forn de Vallcarca, Arxiu Municipal de Gràcia, Grup d’Estudis del Coll-Vallcarca, Helena Nualart, Joan Agell, Joan Bernà, Joaquim Rodríguez, Marco Luca Stanchieri, Martí Ferrer, Martina Cano, Rubén Collado i Victoria Iglesias.

L’exposició romandrà fins el proper 3 d’abril i serà visitable durant els matins de 10 a 13h de dilluns a dijous i les tardes en que es programin activitats.

Gràcies per la vostra visita! Arxiu i Observatori Actiu de Vallcarca


Consulat Danès És una torre senyorial amb jardí, abandonada desde fa quatre anys. Abans de la guerra civil va albergar el Consulat de Dinamarca. Actualment, és propietat de la Diputació de Barcelona, com a herència del matrimoni republicà format per la pedagoga Dolors Canals (1913-2010), creadora de una de las primeres escoles bressol de Barcelona i el pintor Joan Junyer (1904- 1994).La donació de l’inmoble es va fer amb la condició de mantenir-hi la seu de la fundació “Centre del Desenvolupament Humà 0-3 de Barcelona”, una prestigiosa institució especialitzada en la investigació per al desenvolupament durant els tres primers anys de vida.

El Manantial El Manantial ja no existeix, igual que no existeixen les fonts del barri perquè estan capades. Volem que ens tornin la Font de la Nina. La casa havia estat vinculada a la cervesa (dependències de l’empresa Damm) i posteriorment va passar a ser patrimoni social del barri, on també s’hi bevia molta cervesa. Ara mateix és un solar tan gran, que quan hi passem pel costat ens recorda els prats del Pirineu durant l’estiu.

Cantera del carrer Farigola Fins fa poc, ubicació d’un taller i botiga a de venta a l’engròs de ceràmica, havia estat una pedrera. Espai amb forma d’amfiteatre amb àmplies possibilitats lúdiques tant pels amants de l’escalada com per a qui li agradi gaudir del cinema a la fresca, de sopars de barbacoa, o per a qui vulgui tenir els més petits controlats mentre juguen. Ara es troba tancat, sense ús i ple de males herbes.

Casa arabesca del Carrer Gòmis 1 Antiga casa d’estiueig de principis del segle XX. Amb un estil arquitectònic peculiar i molt interessant, amb arcs i mosaics d’estil àrab. També conpta amb una torre. Actualment la casa està en greu perill de demolició, com ha passat amb les cases del seu costat. Es troba en molt mal estat.

La casa més antiga del barri: Bolivar, 14 L’edifici te una façana neogòtica a l’Avinguda Vallcarca. Mostra uns forjats molt interessants a la finestra de la planta baixa. A sobre la porta d’entrada hi apareix un cor esculpit, que sembla un símbol heràldic. La façana de la banda del carrer Bolívar té una franja de rajoles blaves i flors. També té una placa a la dreta de la finestra de la planta baixa. És la data de construcció de la casa: 1790. Sembla ser que és la casa més antiga que es conserva al barri.

La Casita Blanca 1912-2011 Va arribar a complir 99 anys. Era el primer, el més antic, el més prestigiós i concorregut mueblé de Barcelona, recentment desaparegut a causa de les reformes urbanístiques del barri. Avui en dia en el seu lloc hi ha una plaça sense història, gens concorreguda i famosa per les seves lletjors i falta de calidesa. La Casita Blanca gairebé va complir els cent anys d’edat, i fins i tot li han dedicat cançons, un film i un documental.

Can Carol i Plaça de la Farigola El conjunt de l’edifici Can Carol (1860) i l’actual Plaça de la Farigola, són un element històric del barri. Durant les seves primeres dècades va ser masia i residència amb una era i almenys dos pous d’aigua que ara estan tapiats. En el primer terç del segle XX, durant la República, va acollir una escola: el Colegio Nuevo. Actualment la casa es troba en molt mal estat, tapiada i en runes. El patrimoni que composa l’actual Plaça de la Farigola (nom otorgat de manera espontània pels veïns) són els seus arbres: 2 figueres espectaculars, un til·ler, un llorer, un nesprer i una palmera que sembla que encara està sana. La plaça és un lloc de pas i d’encontre, natural per al veïnat, i els seus arbres ens marquen les estacions de l’any. El conjunt està en greu perill d’extinció.



Exposició a Vallcarca

Us convidem a visitar l’EXPOSICIÓ “Vallcarca: urbanicidi i reconstrucció”
Del 19 de febrer al 3 d’abril a l’Antic Forn de Vallcarca (c/ Cambrils, 10)

Inauguració: dijous 19 de febrer a les 19h

La mostra fa un relat cronològic i una revisió històrica del procés urbanístic de Vallcarca des de 1975 a 2015
L’exposició està formada per plànols, fotografies, un recull de premsa i propostes veïnals i una maqueta que il·lustren la
transformació soferta al barri. Al llarg de la mostra es faran activitats per debatre al llarg de la mostra es faran activitats per debatre obertament sobre el procés i rebre aportacions dels visitants. L’Arxiu i Observatori Actiu de Vallcarca fa la seva tercera exposició al barri que porta per títol Vallcarca: urbanicidi i reconstrucció i recorda la transformació física i humana que ha sofert el casc antic del barri per afectació del procés urbanístic i especulatiu dels darrers anys.
A través d’artícles de premsa i fotografies cedides per veïns, plànols i textos elaborats pel propi Arxiu i Observatori Actiu del barri, la mostra repassarà les fases del procés urbanístic imprescindibles per entendre com hem arribat a la situació de degradació que pateix Vallcarca actualment. L’exposició mostra les actuacions urbanístiques i especulatives que han deixat la seva petja en el transcurs del procés en una maqueta que comptarà amb peces mòbils per valorar alternatives de futur que han de servir per la reconstrucció i planificació del nou barri, amb el permís de constructors i grups immobiliaris que per desgràcia encara segueixen tenint molt de pes. A més a més, per fomentar el debat sobre la qüestió, al llarg de l’exposició es duran a terme activitats com visites d’escolars i un passi de documentals dels darrers anys sobre el barri, testimonis que serviran per debatre al voltant de la situació en que ens trobem ara.
Us recordem que l’exposició estarà oberta al públic fins al dia 3 d’abril i té lloc a l’Antic Forn de Vallcarca. L’horari en que la podeu visitar és de dilluns a dijous de 10 a 13h i les tardes en que es programin activitats.
Us hi esperem!
Arxiu i Observatori Actiu de Vallcarca
Twitter -http://twitter.com/observallcarca
Per a més informació: Per a més informació:


cartell expo vallcarca (1)

Vallcarca Workshop Neighbourhood Plan

Working for improving Quality of life in the neighbourhood!

#Urban Resilience


Rafa_Discussion PedroBalari




Vallcarca Neighborhood Workshop



The aim of the WORKSHOP is to discuss and make recommendations on the present and future of the district Vallcarca. The WORKSHOP will be organized in three sessions: Wednesday, November 26, Thursday November 27 and Friday November 28, from 19 pm.
To facilitate the development and organization of the conference, if you want to participate please fill out the form below: http://ves.cat/l_aI

The WORSHOP will be held by Action Without Borders Work Programme, UIA





A new dance performance piece and art installation will explore what it means to seek, shape and preserve “place” in the face of transition through a public, participatory event in the Silver Spring neighborhood of Long Branch.

Share your own placeholders! Participate in a free photo portrait and story telling project.Bring cherished objects and images that reflect your identity and/or describe a place, tradition or belief that is important to you.

With an evocative interdisciplinary collaboration that crosses creative boundaries, architect/visual artist Ronit Eisenbach joins forces with dance artist Sharon Mansur to illuminate and celebrate Long Branch as it is today, on the cusp of change and growth. Placeholders embraces this spirit of flux through its movement, sound and architectural layers.

The performance work affirms what is essential to one’s sense of place in the face of transformation and reflects upon what it means to “hold one’s place” in anticipation of the future. A quartet of performers will invite the audience on a stroll to three separate spaces within the community—the stores along Flower Avenue, the parking lot at the corner of Arliss and Flower, and the Flower Avenue Park.  In addition, artists will engage the public by inviting them to consider and share their own placeholders: objects, images, and traditions that establish their identity and sense of place.

Washington, DC/Baltimore area dancers performing in Placeholders include Meredith Bove, Jessie Laurita-Spanglet, Sarah Oppenheim, and Lynne Price. Accompanying the performance is an original site-inspired soundscape developed by composer Curt Seiss with contributions by Aleksandra Vrebalov, and costumes by Stephanie Miracle.

The Research team of Edgar Alvarado, Rafael de Balanzo, Elena Lombardo and Adriana Mendoza will develop an Urban Resilience Project and a participatory process design around the future transformation of the neighborhood around the new Purple Line streetcar.

Placeholders is supported by a University of Maryland Advance Institute Interdisciplinary and Engaged Research SEED Grant; the UMD School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies and the UMD Women’s Studies Multimedia Studio. Presented in partnership with the Long Branch Business League, Montgomery Housing Partnership and Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs.


Urban Resilience Center participate in Placeholders Project Event, in Maryland, Long Branch Neighbourhood

Urban Resilience Center participate in Placeholders Project Event, in Maryland, Long Branch Neighbourhood

#urbanresilience #placeholders







Urbanization and Resilience


DurbanWC UIA2014 (2)Continue reading “Urbanization and Resilience”

Urban Resilience

From Urban Sustainability to Urban Resilience :
The panarchical representation of a city

Climate change, over-population, or migration flows,−all caused by the different systemic crises in the environment, the economy and the society−, have affected the evolution of the urban quality of life. These short- and long-term shocks have brought highly substantial changes in the sustainability of urban systems. Therefore, there is a need to modify the urban sustainable planning policies towards new strategies aiming to transform the city through resilient processes. Two main strategies have emerged as described below.

• Top-down. International organizations and IT multinationals direct top-down urban strategies based on (1) strengthening the metabolic efficiency of the contemporary city through monopolizing technology (Smart Cities), (2) reducing the vulnerability of infrastructures and their ecosystems to disasters (Engineering Resilience), and (3) strengthening urban resilience in developing countries suffering from climate change (Durban Adaptation Charter) and the soaring population growth. These three strategies are based on a flat or balanced metaphor of perception of the evolution of urban systems.

• Bottom-up. Self-managed urban communities lead bottom-up urban strategies with the objective of engaging citizens to adapt to the needed urban changes through evolutionary resilience metaphor. Cities in transition (Transition Initiative) or Slow Cities are part of this process.

By having a systemic and evolutionary vision of urban planning at different spatial and time scales and both in the short- and long-run, urban stakeholders from both the top-down and bottom-up strategies are reshaping the urban policies towards the concept of resilience. Based on this concept, cities (social-ecological systems) evolve as an adaptive self-organized complex system. As a consequence, the sustainable development of the urban systems is based on the systems’ degree of adaptability and transformability to systemic change. This capacity to adapt and transform themselves is called evolutionary resilience. Resilience, a third dimension of the adaptative and evolutionary nature of adaptative cycles, lies within the panarchy. The panarchy is a representation of the cross-scale and inter-scale networks generated by hierarchical relationships at both time and space scales and through the “revolt” and “memory” connections.These networks are nested in a set of adaptative cycles and aim to establish sustainable development.

CV Rafael Balanzo. Architect, Researcher and Urban Consultant

CV Rafael de Balanzo

I’m a professor in the Urban Studies Department, Queens College, CUNY and the Director of the Work Program “Actions Without Borders” of the International Union of Architects (AWB-UIA). I am currently a Senior Consultant in Urban Sustainability and Resilience, member of the RESURBE urban resilience research Program, and PhD candidate at the Research Institute for Sustainability Science and Technology at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia in Spain.


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