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Latin American and Caribbean Laboratory (Latin Lab)

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The Latin American and Caribbean Laboratory serves as an intellectual platform for research, educational, and service initiatives related to architecture and urban planning in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Latin American and Caribbean Laboratory (Latin Lab) serves as an intellectual platform for research, educational, and service initiatives related to architecture and urban planning in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Based at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), the Lab aims to become a reference in the study of the built environment and community development in LAC and its diasporas, and a premier resource to contribute to their just and sustainable transformations. The Lab's primary lines of work are Migration and Ethno-Urbanism, Urban Resilience and Upgrading, and Regional and Transnational Planning.

Migration and Ethno-Urbanism                 
The production of urban space, power, knowledge, and subjectivities in Latin America is closely intertwined with processes elsewhere. Movements of people, capital, labor, tourism, information, media, and urban design and planning ideas transcend the nations’ borders and their peoples’ collective imaginations. The Latin Lab studies the role of pull and push factors that produce migrations; the socio-spatial, cultural, and political dynamics of places of origin, destination, and in-between-ness; and the impact of their imbrication in placemaking. The Lab aims to uncover, and points to ways of promoting, spaces of hope within these fluxing practices, particularly for the ethnoracially disenfranchised.

Urban Resilience and Upgrading
Climate disruption, natural and human-made disasters, and rapid and uncontrolled development dramatically affect the social and built fabric of rural and urban settlements. Through sustainable practices, architecture and planning can contribute to promote healthier community development and reduce inequality and poverty. By analyzing alternatives such as self-managed communities, urban acupuncture, and progressive housing, among others, the Latin Lab explores ways in which economic wellbeing, environmental sustainability, and social equity can be mutually constituted in promoting communities’ resilience and integral rehabilitation.

Regional and Transnational Planning
Conurbations that exceed municipal administrative boundaries, sometimes even transcending national boundaries, require innovative approaches to urban policy making and planning. The Latin Lab seeks to understand the different subfields of regional and transnational planning; the socio-political, cultural, and spatial implications of transborder regimes; and the challenges to building social and physical infrastructure and decreasing inequalities between places and communities divided by spatial and non-spatial borders. The Lab seeks to assess the individual, collective, institutional, and socio-spatial effectiveness of the agents engaged in these practices, and recommend relevant reform or innovation related to policies, programs, and projects.

Director: Clara Irazábal, PhD