Dr Adriana Laura Massidda

Job: Senior Lecturer in Architecture

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: Leicester School of Architecture

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH.


E: adriana.massidda@dmu.ac.uk

W: http://dmu.ac.uk


Personal profile

Adriana’s current research focusses on the environmental history of two housing estates (Beaumont Leys, in Leicester, and St Raphael’s, in London), which were constructed on former sewage farms. More specifically, her project explores the ecological and political implications of transforming agricultural land into waste-processing plants and ultimately residential sites within a rapidly-transforming urban fringe, and the ways in which this intertwined with residents’ experience and wellbeing. In a follow-up project, Adriana will explore the potentialities and limitations of phyto- and bio-remediation to mitigate the remaining contamination at these sites, especially through collective landscape design.

Prior to this, Adriana’s doctoral and post-doctoral research engaged with self-organisation, human agency, and socio-ecological transformations in Buenos Aires shantytowns during the period 1956-1972. In 2019, she expanded this research to look at female leaderships in Lima’s pueblos jóvenes from the 1950s to the 1990s as a Canning House and King’s College London Fellow. She is in the process of transforming this work into a single-authored monograph, and has published several pieces condensing specific aspects of this research.

Adriana received her architectural degree from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she grew up. After seven years practising as an architect, Adriana completed her PhD thesis at the University of Cambridge (King’s College, 2016) in 2016, and was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre of Urban and Regional Studies, Buenos Aires (2017-19). Adriana has taught in University College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Buenos Aires and the University of Flores. 

Research group affiliations

Institute of Architecture

Publications and outputs


Villas en Dictadura. Córdoba, Rosario y Buenos Aires, co-edited with Valeria Snitcofsky and Eva Camelli (Café de las Ciudades, 2021).

Creative Spaces: Urban Culture and Marginality in Latin America, co-edited with Niall Geraghty (London: Institute of Latin American Studies publishers, 2019).


Selected articles

Shantytowns, Housing and State Order: the Plan de Emergencia in 1950s Argentina’. Planning Perspectives(2020).

La representación urbanística de los espacios informales. Las villas miseria de Buenos Aires (1947-1965)’ [The Representation of Informal Spaces in Urban Planning. Buenos Aires Shantytowns (1947-1965)]. Bitácora Urbano Territorial, 30/1 (2020), 115–126. Co-authored with Pablo Elinbaum.


Utopian Visions for Buenos Aires Shantytowns: Collective Imaginaries of Housing Rights, Upgrading and Eviction (1956-2013)’. Bulletin of Latin American Research, 37/2 (2018), 144–159.


Conflicting Conceptions of Domestic Space: Shantytowns and State Housing in Contemporary Argentine Cinema’. Journal of Romance Studies, 18/2 (2018), 159–179.

Design Exchanges in Mid-Twentieth Century Buenos Aires: The Programme Parque Almirante Brown and its Process of Creative Appropriation’. Journal of Design History (2017).


Grassroots Agency: Participation and Conflict in Buenos Aires Shantytowns Seen through the Pilot Plan for Villa 7 (1971-75)’. Architecture_MPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society) 12/4 (2017).


Latest public writings

‘Shantytowns and social engineering in 1950s Argentina’. RIBAJ (2021). Summary of project shortlisted for the RIBA President's Awards for Research.


Contribution to 'Saving St. Raphael’s Estate: The Alternative to Demolition', by Architects for Social Housing (2021)  - sections 'Environmental history' and 'Phytoremediation'.

Review of Helen Gyger's Improvised Cities: Architecture, Urbanization, and Innovation in Peru (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019). Journal of Latin American Studies (2021).

La ciudad grande y las fronteras borrosas’ [‘The Big City and its Blurry Boundaries’]. Interview by María Fernanda Berti, published in Revista Cordón. Lomas de Zamora, 2020.

Health and Community Action Centres in Buenos Aires show how self-organisation can resist austerity and improve public services’. Blog of the Latin America and Caribbean Centre of the London School of Economics and Political Science. London, 2019. 

Key research outputs


Research interests/expertise

Urban informality / Shantytown history
Environmental history
Agency, participation and co-production
Materiality of space / especially re. water, garbage and contamination
Forestation and urban landscape
Phyto- and bioremediation

Areas of teaching

Architectural design
Architectural and urban theory
Urban History

I welcome enquiries on PhD research focusing on any of the areas outlined above.


Architect (University of Buenos Aires; full Argentine qualification)
MPhil (Cantab)
PhD (Cantab)

Membership of professional associations and societies

Affiliate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy