Isis Paola Nunez Ferrera

Research Title: Creativity and Scarcity in the Built Environment

Director of Studies: Professor Jeremy Till
Second Supervisor: John Goodbun
Starting Date and Mode of Study: 2010 Full-Time


Architect and development practitioner specialising in participatory processes in urban planning and design, with 6 years of experience on community planning, slum-upgrading, identity and diversity in the built environment, urban regeneration. urban governance and heritage management. Research and fieldwork experience in Honduras, Kenya, Brazil, India, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

Experience and consultancies with UN-HABITAT, Practical Action-UK, Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Architecture Sans Frontieres-UK (ASF-UK), local government agencies and academic institutions.

Experience working on issues of housing rights and inclusive approaches to slum-upgrading in collaboration with grassroots organizations, such as Muungano wa Wanavijiji (Kenya), Mahila Milan and National Slum Dwellers Federation (India), Movimento dos Sem Teto da Bahia (Brazil) and Sulukule Platform (Turkey).

Experience on teaching at MSc level, developing academic curricula and designing and leading studio-based modules based on real-case scenarios. Currently lecturing at University of Westminster and as visiting lecturer at University College London, United Kingdom.

Currently an associate and international workshop coordinator at ASF-UK, designing and implementing participatory methodologies for slum-upgrading and housing rights, in collaboration with local NGOs, grassroots organizations and UN-HABITAT.

Thesis Synopsis

This PhD is part of a three-year research project on Scarcity and Creativity in the Built Environment SCIBE leaded by University of Westminster in partnership with the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) and the Technical University Vienna. Funded by Humanities in the European Research Area (HERA). The research project aims to explore the relationship between scarcity and creativity in the context of the built environment by investigating how conditions of scarcity might affect the creativity of the different actors involved in the production of architecture and urban design, and how a design-led innovation of the process could improve the built environment in the future. Case studies include the cities of London, Oslo, Vienna and Reykjavik. My thesis is particularly focused on urban informality and socio-environmental processes in the Global South, exploring conditions of scarcity and the emergence of social and institutional innovation in informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya and Quito, Ecuador.

Recent  Publications, Exhibitions, Presentations

  • Nunez-Ferrera, I. (2012) Rethinking Urban Inclusion through the lens of Scarcity; in Cities are Us Conference: Rethinking Urban Inclusion - Spaces, Mobilisations, Interventions. Coimbra, Portugal (Forthcoming).
  • Frediani, A.A., French, M. and Nunez-Ferrera, I. (2012) The spatiality of inclusion: participatory design as a means to re‐imagining the city; in Cities are Us Conference: Rethinking Urban Inclusion - Spaces, Mobilisations, Interventions. Coimbra, Portugal (Forthcoming).
  • Nunez-Ferrera, I. (2012) Within the limits of Scarcity: A look into informal settlements and the recalibration of urban research and practices. Paper for the 9th AHRA Research Student Conference on Emerging Boundaries of Research Principles and Praxis. Aberdeen, Scotland (Forthcoming).
  • May 2012. Invited speaker: Agency / Tactics / Inclusion. Talk for Expanding Architecture: Operating a Social Agenda. Architecture Sans Frontieres Talk Series 2012 in partnership with the Architecture Centre Network; London, UK (Forthcoming).
  • March 2012. Invited speaker: Narratives of Scarcity and Creativity - A look into Informal Settlements in Nairobi, Kenya. Talk at the International Development Society, Slums and Urban Poverty in Africa. London, UK.
  • Frediani, A.A., French, M. and Nunez-Ferrera, I. (2011) Change by Design: Building Communities through Participatory Design. Urban Culture Press, New Zealand. Book can be downloaded here
  • April 2011. Invited speaker at the Chamber of Architects of Honduras and the Catholic University of Honduras. Title: “Urban Informality: Socio-spatial transformations and current challenges in Urbanism”. Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
  • Nunez-Ferrera, I. et al (2011). “Integrated Participatory Design: Participation, Power and the Social Production of Space” in Informality: Re-viewing Latin-American Cities, Conference at University of Cambridge, February, 2011.
  • Nunez-Ferrera, I. (2010). “Scarcity, Creativity and Governmentality: Fostering Spaces for Radical Transformations”, Working Paper, SCIBE symposium, University of Westminster.
  • Boano, C., Nunez-Ferrera, I. and Hunter, W. (2010). City of Islands: Istanbul at a Crossroads. ABITARE, August 2010. ABITARE: Milano, Italy. Available to view here
  • Frediani, A. A. and Nunez, I. P. (2009) An Overview of Urban Thought: Inclusive Approaches, Environment and Infrastructure. Report prepared for Practical Action.

Teaching and Employment Interests

Isis is currently involved as teaching assistant at Westminster University with inputs in the following modules:

  • International Planning and Sustainable Development
  • Theories of Identity, Culture and Globalisation
  • Public  Space and the Public Realm

Additionally she has been guest lecturer at University College London in the following  modules:

  • Urban Design in Development (Practice Module)
  • Participatory Processes: Building for Development

Contact Details and Further Information

[email protected]