Political Imagination and the City

Almudena Cano


“In July 2016, the MAC-Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Bellas Artes in Santiago the Chile held the international conference ‘Political Imagination and the City’ organised by the FAU Universidad de Chile. As a result of extensive media coverage (REUNA Ciencia y Educación en Red ‘Seminario Anilla Cultural MAC’, Plataforma Urbana, Plataforma Arquitectura, and INVI Instituto de la Vivienda, among others), the conference exposed to the wider public the work of 40 presenters from more than a dozen different countries and a range of disciplines related to the built environment.


The symposium was organised around three sessions – Imaginaries, Procedures and Assemblages- that enabled scholars and practitioners to share perspectives on the relationship between architecture, design, the city and the political. In particular, the session on ‘Procedures’ was focused on innovative models of citizen participation and involvement in the production of urban space that differed in scale and scope, as well as in geographical and institutional contexts. My evaluation of how one of these formulas (Neighbourhood Planning) is working in London attracted the attention of the audience and resulted in opening up a debate on the limits, potentials and transferable elements of this model.


During the closing session I had the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with Prof. Henry Sanoff, whose extensive professional and academic career on participatory design approaches is widely recognised. As an expert in Community Participation Methods in Design and Planning, Prof. Henry Sanoff provided invaluable feedback on my research project that is helping me envision the ways in which the theoretical discussions within my PhD could turn into concrete design interactions with local communities in London.”


The Potential of Design in Neighbourhood Planning

Almudena Cano