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Dr Adriana Laura Massidda

Job: Lecturer in Architecture

Faculty: Arts, Design and Humanities

School/department: Leicester School of Architecture

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





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. Adriana is currently a Lecturer in Architecture at the Leicester School of Architecture of De Montfort University and a Non-Stipendiary Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Research group affiliations

Institute of Architecture

Publications and outputs

Books and book chapters

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

The Spatiality of Desire in Martin Oesterheld’s La multitud and Luis Ortega’s Dromómanos’, in Creative Spaces: Urban Culture and Marginality in Latin America (London: Institute of Latin American Studies publishers, 2019). Co-authored with Niall Geraghty.

Mapping the Suburbs: Cartographic Representations of Villa Celina, Buenos Aires, 1955-2011’, in New Suburban Stories, ed. by Martin Dines and Timotheus Vermeulen (London: Bloomsbury-Continuum, 2013).

Feria La Salada: una centralidad periférica intermitente en el Gran Buenos Aires’ [‘La Salada Fair: An Intermittent Peripheral Centrality in Greater Buenos Aires’], in Centralidades Urbanas e Históricas en la Argentina, ed. by Margarita Gutman (Quito: Olacchi-Flacso Ecuador, 2010). Co-authored with Martín Di Peco and others.

Journal articles

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

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.

El Parque Almirante Brown y el Team 10 como proceso de apropiación creativa (Buenos Aires, 1961-1976)’ [‘The Programme Parque Almirante Brown and the Team 10 as a Process of Creative Appropriation (Buenos Aires, 1961-1976’]. AREA – Agenda de Reflexión en Arquitectura, Diseño y Urbanismo (2019).

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.

Cómo nombrar a la informalidad urbana:  Una revisión de las definiciones en uso, sus implicaciones analíticas y su alcance’ [‘How to Name Informality: A Revision of Shantytown Current Definitions, their Analytic Implications and their Scope’]. Quid 16, 10 (2018), 301–315.

Lo político en lo urbano. Pobreza urbana en el pasado reciente. Villa Jardín, 1958-1967’. Revista Encuentros Uruguayos, XI/1 (2018), 59–72.

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, early view).

Negociaciones, permanencia y construcción cotidiana en villas (Villas La Lonja, Cildáñez y Castañares, Buenos Aires, 1958-1967)’ [‘Negotiations, Permanence and Everyday Construction in Shantytowns (Shantytowns La Lonja, Cildáñez y Castañares, Buenos Aires, 1958-1967)’]. Urbana: Revista do Centro Interdisciplinar de Estudos sobre a Cidade, 9/1 (2017), 15–46.

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).

Autoconstrucción, participación y agencia. Una revisión del Plan Piloto para Villa 7 y las iniciativas ATEPAM en Buenos Aires’ [‘Self Build, Participation and Agency. A Revision of the Villa 7 Pilot Plan and Assisted Self Help Housing in Buenos Aires’]. Carta Económica Regional 29/120 (2017) 105–130.

 ‘The Plan de Emergencia (1956): Housing Shortage in Buenos Aires Then and Now’. Scroope Journal, 21 (2012) 42–51. 

Other publications

Who Decides?: The Impact of Habitat I on the Urban Poor in Latin America’, blog post for the Maughan Library, King’s College London, and Canning House. 2019.

Review of Lisa Blackmore’s book Spectacular Modernity: Dictatorship, Space and Visuality in Venezuela. 1948–1958. Planning Perspectives, 2019.

Local Government and Participatory Planning in Buenos Aires, Argentina’, blog post for New Local Government Network. 2018.

Editor of Canning Town Caravanserai blog, and author of entries ‘Communities and Public Space – Buenos Aires 1950s shantytowns’, ‘on the South’ and ‘Gentrification in the swimming pool’.

‘“Sí, señor, yo vivo aquí”’ and ‘Pick-up football in the canchita de San Blas’, in World Film Locations: Buenos Aires, ed. by Santiago Oyarzábal and Michael Pigott (Bristol: Intellect Books, 2014).


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