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.