María Arquero de Alarcón, associate professor of architecture and urban and regional planning, and Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, assistant professor in urban and regional planning, are among the recipients of a 2022 Architectural Education Collaborative Practice Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA).
The Architectural Education Awards recognize educators for their exemplary work in areas such as building design, community collaborations, scholarship, and service. Award winners inspire and challenge students, contribute to the profession’s knowledge base, and extend their work beyond the borders of academia into practice and the public sector.
The Collaborative Practice Award is given annually to innovative and sustained initiatives that extend design education beyond the classroom and into communities. Projects are recognized for their community partnerships in which faculty, students, and neighborhood citizens are valued equally when addressing issues of social injustice through design.
Arquero de Alarcón and Pimentel Walker’s work titled “Activate, Articulate, Advocate: for the Right to Occupy, Hold Ground, and Upgrade!” is the culmination of multiple years of participatory action research that provides a spatial justice lens for activist educators. The transdisciplinary project involves 14 favelas and young land occupations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and universities, and highlights the informal urbanization of green and blue zones in São Paulo, Brazil’s southern periphery.
The project operates through three tactical actions aimed to [A]ctivate through capacity building; [A]rticulate through knowledge exchange between younger and consolidated informal communities; and [A]dvocate through proper funding and policy reform, for the right to occupy, hold ground, and upgrade.
The work takes place at the community level, co-producing resilient land occupation practices with the residents of occupation Jardim Gaivotas that emerge from the lived experiences of land occupiers.
This collaboration ultimately recognizes informal dwellers in the megacities of the Global South as citizen-architects and planners, blending nature and artificial environments to create secure shelter and resilient habitats. The project calls for American universities to adopt an anti-colonial stance, learning from and providing support for informal dwellers’ everyday urbanisms and joining struggles for social transformation.