Borderline City

Urban Socio-Economic Challenges
Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Prof. Eva Álvarez de Andrés
Departamento de Urbanística y Ordenación del Territorio Escuela técnica Superior de Arquitectura de Madrid

After 30 years of hege­monic neoli­be­ra­lism, inequa­li­ties and exclu­sion have only incre­ased (BM, 2016). The logic of the global market, rooted in local contexts through specific poli­cies, has left millions of fami­lies homeless around the world (García-Lamarca & Kaika, 2016; Rolnik, 2018; Álvarez et al., 2019). This reality has led the heads of state and government to ratify the New World Urban Agenda (UN, 2017), and to reco­gnize that the increase of inequa­li­ties and the persis­tence of multiple forms of poverty are among the main chal­lenges of cities in the 21st century. Social exclu­sion is reflected in space and produces physical, social and economic borders.

In this context, it is urgent to promote critical pedago­gies from the univer­sity, assuming that the world is an unfi­nished collec­tive project whose evolu­tion depends on our critical capa­city to ques­tion it and on our commit­ment to trans­form it (Freire, 1998). This also applies to schools of plan­ning and urban plan­ning, widely been ques­tioned for having histo­ri­cally served as an instru­ment of control at the service of estab­lished power (Dear 1981; Sevilla-Buitrago, 2008; Marcuse et al., 2009, Cabrera, 2015).

There­fore, in the Subject of Socio­eco­nomic Analysis that is taught in the Master’s Degree in Urban and Terri­to­rial Plan­ning (MUPUT), students have been proposed to iden­tify an urban socio-economic chal­lenge, unders­tood as a tangible or intan­gible border of the city, in order to answer some of the following questions:

  • How are inequa­li­ties, poverty and exclu­sion reflected in space?
  • What tangible or intan­gible edges are formed?
  • What prac­tices and poli­cies have contri­buted to shape them?
  • What impli­ca­tions do they have for the excluded and what struggle stra­te­gies do they shape?

For this, once the chal­lenge is iden­ti­fied, the student is accom­pa­nied in the elabo­ra­tion of a theo­re­tical frame­work, as well as in the choice of a case study and in the corre­spon­ding process of infor­ma­tion collec­tion and analysis of the case study, to finally draw conclu­sions regar­ding the ques­tions posed and present them at the summer school at the TU in Berlin.