SPURS Projects

A Symposium 'Territories of Water' was organized by DUSP-SPURS-SMArchS on April 17th, 2018 at MIT. The symposium took the territorial lens to study the changing dependencies and connectedness between rural and urban areas through water and wastewater. Challenging conventional demarcations of river basins or watersheds, it traced territories of water that cities are connected to in their acquisition and disposal of water. The objective was to look at how the territorial lens might help establish a cooperative relationship between urban and rural areas with respect to water and wastewater.

A panel of distinguished speakers - Inaki Alday, Elwood R. Quesada Professor of Architecture, University of Virginia; James Wescoat, Professor of Landscape Architecture & Director, Urbanism Group, MIT; S Vishwananth, Biome Environmental Solutions, Bengaluru, India; and Sourav Biswas, Sasaki Associates talked about critical issues in water planning and design, looking at different scales, methods and tools of territorial water planning towards recognising and constructing territories of water. The titles of their presentations were Cities and Rivers; Rurban Water Planning in Maharashtra: Political Ecology of Panchyati Raj; The Imaginations of Water and a City - Bengaluru, India; and Mapping Urban-Rural Water Linkages respectively. Bish Sanyal, Ford International Professor of Urban Development & Planning and Director of the Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS)/ Humphrey Fellows Program at MIT mentored and generously supported the symposium.

The organizers - a SPURS fellow, Alka Palrecha and a SMArchS Urbanism Graduate Student, Ranu Singh intended it for the discipline itself for knowledge creation through using various methods like mapping, among others; for the field to reach out to institutions or create new institutions to address the need of territorial water planning; and recognize practitioners that work to reduce rural-urban disparity. They may be contacted at alka@mit.eduand ranu@mit.edu.

The symposium was viewed as a beginning in looking at rural-urban flows (of water), to connect researchers, academicians, and practitioners who are filling the gaps – in our discipline and between urban and rural areas as well. 

Graduate students of DUSP, SPURS fellows, School of Architecture, students of Harvard Graduate School of Design, artists, and professionals from Boston area, and faculty of SA+P, MIT attended the symposium. 

Study of Socio-Economic Impact of Climate Change Risk in Developing Countries


General aim: Development of a climate change vulnerability index at national, regional and local level and mapping with the application of Geographic Information System (GIS). Specific aim: To identify within a country the most vulnerable areas to climate risk, as to prioritize public policies and allocation of resources. Second aim: To determine the economical cost–benefit of applying these policies in those regions against the baseline scenario. The research will try to respond to the following questions: How can a vulnerability index to climate risk be constructed? Which variables should be taken into account? Which of them are the most important? Is a comparable vulnerability index among cities or regions possible? Vulnerability assessment vs action indexes. Is it possible to use similar approaches at international scale, setting international standards? The project has the goal to start building a global network of practitioners working in the field of meassuring socieconomic impact of climate risk. In this context, the IAP course 11S953 Measuring socioeconomic vulnerability will be offered: https://dusp.mit.edu/subject/iap-2017-11s953. An extended version of the project can be dowloaded from: http://www.cma-uba.com.ar/bios/ Esteban Otto Thomasz – SPURS FELLOW 2016-2017, ethomasz@mit.edu and Mariano Eriz– SPURS FELLOW 2015-2016, meriz@mit.edu.

Metro Lab - IAP Course 2017 - January 9-20


The Metro Lab Initiative is offering a two-week IAP session, sponsored by the MIT-SUTD Collaboration. The session has two modules, which may be taken together or separately. Each module offers classes in the morning and workshops as well as conferences in the afternoon. In the first module, “Bridging the metro gaps”, metropolitan challenges and their potential solutions will be addressed and developed for different sectors and problems. The second module, “The shaping of a new metropolitan discipline” will focus on how different disciplines and their methods can be applied. A pin-up session open to the MIT and Harvard communities will be developed the last day of each course and guest speakers will hold open conferences. Module one: “Bridging the metro gaps” Monday, January 9th to Friday, January 13th Module two: “The shaping of a new metropolitan discipline” Monday, January 16th to Friday, January 20th Further information contact: Gabriel Lanfranchi, SPURS Fellow 2015 and Metro Lab co-director gl_urban@mit.eduand David Gomez-Alvarez SPURS Fellow 2017 and Metro Lab co-director gomezalv@mit.edu https://dusp.mit.edu/idg/project/metro-lab (for both modules)

SPURS-MCP Collaborative Project


“Open Metropolis: Monitoring Metropolitan Latin American Cities” by: David Gomez-Alvarez, SPURS Fellow and Ricardo Martinez-Campos Master in City Planning Proposal Summary Understanding the complexities of measuring social, urban and economic development goals within Latin American cities, and acknowledging the lack of initiatives that specifically target metropolis as a measurable aspect at a regional scale, the current project proposal aims to develop an indicators matrix to 1) establish a framework to better understand performance and development dynamics within Latin American metropolitan areas and 2) to trigger a global discussion around the importance of these areas in an open-data digital platform. On achieving these goals, the project will account for what has been previously done in the field on attempts to measure cities’ development and performance across the globe; build over it to consolidate the research framework for the matrix indicators; and develop the digital platform to host our findings, metrics and discussions. This platform is envisioned as an open source for governments, academic institutions, NGO’s to help them have a better understanding of the “metropolitanization” phenomenon and how to plan to achieve better cities and societies. The foundation of the project aligns to the core values of MIT and DUSP to open knowledge for all citizens across the globe to build open cities.