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IAAC Lecture Series – Felipe Vera

Date: Tuesday, 8th November, 2022
Time: 19.30h (CET) 

Title: “Latin America in Transition: Imagining Infrastructures for Climatic Migration”

Location: In-house at IAAC Main hall, C/ Pujades 102 & Zoom


> Watch the lecture on Youtube

Felipe Vera is a Chilean architect and urbanist working as Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School department of urban planning and design.

He is also a Sector Specialist at the Housing and Urban Development Division of the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB). At IADB, he leads urban design and planning programs and regional technical cooperation, focusing on slum upgrading, resiliency, and ecological design. His knowledge work focuses on exploring the agency of temporality and the potential of design imagination for synthesizing more adaptable solutions made up of softer strategies, which are elastic, reversible, and capable to encompass a wide spectrum of unpredictable city pressures. In relation to this, Vera has written and lectured extensively on issues about urban design and planning, migration, and ecology in vulnerable contexts.

He is the author of several books and publications aimed at understanding and designing strategies for building resilience in vulnerable cities. Some of these include “Informing the Informal: Strategies for Generating Information in Vulnerable Settlements” (2021), which covers topics such as data collection for designing urban policies in precarious areas; the Inmigrando series, comprised by the books Strengthening Destination Cities (2020), Building Plural Cities (2020), and Understanding Cities in Transition (2021) —which seek to understand migration flux, its impact, and potentials on destination cities.

Other publications include “Ecological Design: Strategies for the Vulnerable City: Adapting Precarious Areas in Latin America and the Caribbean to Climate Change” (2021), “Housing: What’s Next? From Thinking Unit to Building the City” (2018), and “City Design, Planning & Policy Innovations: The Case of Hermosillo” (2019). In relation to urban issues and the impact of the pandemics in cities, he has edited “How Have Cities Responded to COVID-19 in Vulnerable Areas?” (2020), and “What Can We Do to Respond to COVID-19 in Informal Cities?” (2020). Previously, in collaboration with Rahul Mehrotra, he edited the books Ephemeral Urbanism: Does Permanence Matter? (2016), Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux (2015), and Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Mega City (2014).Vera has been the director of the UAI Research Center for Ecology, Landscape and Urban Planning and a lecturer at Harvard’s GSD. At UAI he wrote the books Andrea Branzi: Ten Recommendations for a New Athens Charter (2015) and Dissolving Thresholds (2015).

He was appointed curator of the 2017 Chilean Architecture and Urbanism Biennial named ‘Diálogos Impostergables,’ [Unpostponable Dialogues] (2017) which tackled the question of how design could provide alternatives to the most pressing challenges that inequity, climate fragility, and migration bring to our cities. He has also curated diverse installations at other biennials such as Housing: What’s Next? at the International Biennial of Architecture of Buenos Aires (2019); Does Permanence Matter? at the Pinacotek Der Moderne in Munich (2017); Ephemeral Urbanism: Cities in Constant Flux at the Venice Biennale (2016); and Radical Temporalities at the Urbanism\Architecture Bi-City Biennale (UABB) of Shenzhen and Hong Kong (2015).

Latin America in Transition: Imagining Infrastructures for Climatic Migration

The world is facing a moment of growing climate and migratory uncertainty. The accelerated intensity of natural and humanitarian disasters is giving rise to new and more complex forms of vulnerability. Migration has acquired an unprecedented dimension, while the infrastructure that will respond to climate displacements remains unanswered. While current estimates account for 250 million international migrants, predictions indicate that by 2050 this number will increase to 350 million, of which 60% will have been displaced due to environmental factors. Rising sea levels, changes in rainfall distribution patterns and in ocean chemistry will strongly affect coastal cities, where 77% of the at- risk global population resides. The climate crises also accentuate inequalities, as the most vulnerable groups are the more exposed to the effects of environmental hazards. In the near future, the landscape of informality will be a direct reflection of the effects of climate change and its intensified migration.