Action 3-2: Reflexive exercises

Reflexive exercise I: Urban sustainability – Urban sustainable development

The first exercise is centered around a key element that cut across, to varying degrees, al the research projects of the doctoral candidates: the relationship with the notion of urban sustainability.

Thus, the following question was posed: “How does your research connect to the notion of urban sustainability? As a general reference to deal with this question, the doctoral students were asked to consider the following definition of urban sustainability:

What is the meaning of the term “urban sustainability”? It may help to first compare it to “sustainable urban development.” The meanings of these two terms are very close and are often used interchangeably in the literature (cf. Richardson 1994). One way of distinguishing them, however, is to think of sustainability as describing a desirable state or set of conditions that persists over time. In contrast, the word “development” in the term “sustainable urban development” implies a process by which sustainability can be attained. 

Source: Maclaren, V. W. (1956) Urban sustainability reporting. Journal of the American Planning Association 62(2): 184-202. Quote pages: 185-86.


“Mapping” of the research projects in relation to the concepts of urban sustainability and urban sustainable development. Based on the distinction between these two terms found in the quote indicated above, the doctoral candidates were asked to think about whether their research projects relate closer to one or the other notion. To end, policy-making was to be deemed as a continuum connecting sustainable urban development (consulting the “reasoning” providing the basis for actions and measures and thus being “practice-oriented”) at one end, and urban sustainability (consulting the outcome of actions and measures and thus being”materiality-oriented”) at the other.


The results are as follows:

Higher Education: Battsetseg Altankhuyag – Ullaabbaatar, Mongolia



Battsetseg Altankhuyag




The research is focused on studying equality of educational opportunities in access to higher education in Mongolia. Today, in Mongolia, inequality has widened greatly and poverty is increased particularly in urban areas due to the high concentration of people that about 70% of the total population settle in urban areas. Promotion of equity and economic vitality are some of the key characteristics of urban sustainability. Higher education contributes decisively to the realization of these aspects by enhancing quality of life and providing better job opportunities. However, people are not being able to experience the benefits of higher education fully; even spite of the fact Mongolian higher education has reached a great expansion. thus, studying reasons behind the issue becomes crucial in Mongolia since higher education can have a significant influence on achieving urban sustainability.


Watermanagement I: Hammams: Hajar Nourredine – Casablanca, Morocco







Hajar Nourredine








The strong growth of the city of Casablanca in recent years raises the urgency of adopting a sustainable urban development approach. In circumstances of water scarcity, sustainable urban water management takes a special interest, not only to secure the water supply and sewerage systems but also to protect the environment and resources for future generations.

It is difficult to discuss sustainable urban development without considering sustainable management of urban water, education, or cultural heritage. The objective of the present research project where the reuse of the greywater, from a traditional Hammam, to build an educational garden, is to adopt the characteristics of urban sustainability, without losing sight of the patrimonial aspect that the Hammams represent in the Moroccan culture.

The imperatives of sustainable development are reflected in the process of implementation. Indeed, sustainable urban development allows us to specify our field of action when urban sustainability is an execution of the project.

Figure 1 Links the research project’s aspects to the principles of sustainable development that combine economic, social, and environmental perspectives. © Hajar Nourredine.


Watermanagement II: Urban Water Security Index: Nomundari Erdene – Ullaanbaatar, Mongolia


Nomundari Erdene




With the continued paradigm of rapid urbanisation, the urban water security serves as a lifeline and a pillar of its sustainability. For citizens of Ulaanbaatar, the water has been always in a privileged position, however its sustainability is exacerbated by the continued urbanisation and effects of climate change. The objective of the research work is to develop Ulaanbaatar’s water management performance index that can serve as a powerful instrument to provide a snapshot of the water security status of the capital city. This would allow policymakers, financing institutions, and planners to make more evidence-based, and informed decisions on how to improve their performance, enabling substantial effort towards attaining sustainable development. Water security of Ulaanbaatar is an emerging challenge that adds value to the urban sustainability discourse, as it folds into vital and complex components of urbanisation.


Education for sustainable development: Mina Radić Sibinović – Belgrade, Serbia



Mina Radić




My Ph.D. research strives to answer how we can design vertical gardens in schools to act as a built environment education tool for tackling sustainability challenges. Relation to urban sustainability lies in achieving intergenerational and intragenerational equity between pupils, teachers, and another community members through joint participation in a novel gamified educational design process conducted in one primary school in Serbia. All participants will have the opportunity to express their desires to reshape the landscape and improve their (natural) environment through learning about specific SDG 11 targets. Moreover, they will contribute to some of them, like SDG 11.6 by getting to know the current major environmental issues in Serbia, air quality and waste management, designing a low-cost vertical garden from reused materials. While this research primarily targets SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, it will also build upon SDG 4: Quality Education, especially on target 4.7 which proposes education for sustainable development and global citizenship.


(Post-)Colonial Epistemologies: Boniface Nevanji Bwanyire – Harare, Zimbabwe




Boniface Nevanji Bwanyire





My study focuses on the more holistic conception of urban sustainability, particularly its environmental, social and economic characteristics. By going back into history, and unpacking the epistemologies, imaginations, and rationale that guided the development of the city of Harare as a colonial capital, and juxtaposing that with a precolonial capital, the study hopes to show how this history resulted in an unequal, exclusive and unsustainable city, and how the refiguration that has occurred over the years has mainly been mediated by that colonial history. Exploring this intersection of refiguration and decoloniality in the City of Harare broadens our understanding of urban sustainability within the context of post-colonial cities, whose history plays a crucial role in contemporary discussions about how to make such cities more inclusive and sustainable. The study’s contribution therefore will be to bring in a decolonial perspective in the ensuing discourse on urban sustainability by bringing to the fore contextualized empirical realities from cities of the Global South, which (Myers, 2011; Roy, 2014) argue, are often marginalized and rarely taken as sources of theory in such discussions.


Juvenile delinquency: Khumo Motshwari  – Gaborone, Botswana



Khumo Motshwari




Juvenile delinquency is a more of social equity issue, and as this PhD project explores juvenile delinquency, it will also contribute to the discussion on how the environment and buildings influence delinquency. The model of the city and how the city is designated can foster way ward behaviour. Abandoned old buildings perpetuate delinquent behaviours such as use of drugs and formation of gang groups. In addition, the current policy on dealing with juvenile delinquency stipulates suspension and expulsion from school. This is also a social equity problem because young people suspended and expelled from school are denied an opportunity to education and use of another public resource such as access to student loans. This will in turn perpetuates them into becoming future rebels/ trouble makers and hence a virtuous cycle of committing crimes. The study of juvenile delinquency is a starting point to building sustainable and safe environment, as this will allow cities in Botswana to be positioned to take lead in addressing way-ward behaviour by young people.


Knowledge on homeless deaths: Caio Moraes Reis – Sao Paulo, Brazil



My research aims to promote inclusive and sustainable urbanization by investigating how death patterns of street dwellers relate to patterns of common-sense knowledge about the socio-spatial phenomenon of dwelling in the streets of the city of São Paulo over the last five decades. My focus is on the dimension of urban sustainability that concerns social inclusion, the promotion of individual well-being, and the satisfaction of basic human needs as it addresses the ways in which people deprived of access to basic social rights – such as housing, health, and education – die both historically and daily in the public spaces of Latin America’s biggest city.


Vernacular heritage: Ernest Blendire Moronda  – Stone Town, Zanzibar



Ernest Blendire Moronda




My research centers on exploration of vernacular conceptions of heritage. The study is critically looking into the hegemonic ‘Western-grounded’ heritage discourse and practices and (re)production of urban Zanzibaris exclusion from their ‘heritage’; whereas heritage experts’ voice prevails. My topic covers broader areas of cultural diversity heritage vary greatly given different context, space and time. Thus, people’s participation in urban governance on heritage should not be a matter of collaborating or taking part, but rather a case of thinking towards a people’s centred urban governance which will bring about locally-grounded socio-cultural and economic development. If heritage belongs to, and is created by people, why should its governance dictated by so-called experts and professionals? I believe exploring the conceptions of heritage from local people’s perspective will recentre and refocus heritage practices towards Zanzibar Stone Town residents.


Migration fluxes: Helmia Adita Fitra – Lampung Province, Indonesia
















The study I proposed, was driven by the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which most affected cities and led to changes in migration patterns which normally rural-to-urban migration, reversing to urban-to-rural migration or also known as returning migration. While the urban-based studies on sustainability and migration have been voluminous while rural-based studies are (somehow) neglected. In fact, there is no urban sustainability without rural sustainability (Huang, 2021). In this context, rural areas mostly provide the resources that cities need to sustain. As urban migration could be a disruption to urban sustainability, reverse migration could disrupt rural sustainability as well, if planning and governance are absent (Aghdam et al., 2021). Using empirical insights on how returning migrants reintegrate in the process of achieving sustainable development in their places of origin, this study, titled “Understanding Return Migration Experience with Reference to Indonesia” aims to provide a systematic view of return migration in order to help steer migration policy towards the normative goal of sustainability. Although this study is not urban-based, this study indicates (hopefully) the externalities of various attempts in maintaining urban sustainability during the pandemic which might threaten rural sustainability as migrant places of origin. Meanwhile, sustainability is impossible unless societal vulnerability – in this case, migrant vulnerability – could be minimized mainly after their return from cities. Thus, this study looks at (1) how migration patterns in general and (2) the characteristics of return migration, in particular, have changed during the pandemic, (3) how returning migrants address their vulnerabilities in their places of origin and how they reintegrate into the local development process. Last, this study explores (4) the potential future challenges and opportunities in return migration as well as the role of stakeholders in managing return migration with respect to sustainable development in their places of origin. Taking Lampung Province of Indonesia, this study will enrich the field discourses of migration studies by relating the issues of return migration to both pandemic setting and sustainability as well as by introducing the empirical insights from a developing country.


Heritage and renewal: Khannaphaphone Phakhounthong – Luang Prabang, Laos



Khannaphaphone Phakhounthong




Many world heritage sites face uncertainties amidst rapid urbanization, which is also the case in Luang Prabang (LPB), in Laos. An evident “urban-upgrading process” in response to the urbanisation in LPB has caused strains not only on the authenticity and integrity but also on its tangible and intangible elements, bringing forth unpredictable changes. Therefore, my Ph.D. research aims at redefining ‘sustainability’ in the context of cultural heritage by exploring the intersectionality of urban renewal and local heritage. This research overlaps with broad themes of urban sustainable development comprising of socio-economic vitality and sustainable use of heritage resources. I conclude that redefining and localizing ‘sustainability’ will bring harmony between the ongoing economic development onslaught and scarce non-renewable heritage resources. This can be done by deciphering why heritage is an important component in LPB? and how could it serve as a key to urban sustainability?


Result-based planning in spatial plans: Samaneh Niazkhani – Tehran, Iran










Spatial planning and sustainability have an undeniable common theoretical and operational context; in fact the main purpose of spatial planning is to ensure that the use of land resources in planning and implementation is organized in a way that takes into account the needs of both the present and future generations; It also helps achieve national development goals. So the research, based on the Result Base Planning approach, follows to say that if the spatial plans of the provinces in less developed regions are implemented, the settlement system in those provinces will move towards more sustainability or move away from sustainability? In this regard the spatial plans of selected provinces will be evaluated through a result-based approach (that is a way of working that focus on the real socio-economic benefits of plans and projects at the stakeholder level); Due to the multi-dimensional and complex nature of sustainability, this evaluation will be consolidated in three phases, one after the other by qualitative, quantitative and again qualitative methods; And its results can be used by the Program and Budget Organization (as a reference for approving these plans) to implement reforms in revision process designated in the instructions, in time steps (once every 5 years). With no doubt this helps, if the move towards the sustainability of the settlement system in the selected provinces does not occur with the current spatial plans, it will be achieved gradually by modifying the plans over time.


Locally-driven territorial administration: Mitchell de Sousa – Trelew, Argentina




Mitchell De Sousa






The project focuses mainly on sustainable urban development, as I am developing place-based urban strategies for the town of Trelew to grapple with its territory. It relates with the concept of urban sustainability as it is a project that aims to give to the City of Trelew more empowerment over its own administrative limits and thus, mitigating urban problems such as urban land speculation that prevents access for the under and middle in the city and threatens to urbanize rural areas and surrounding nature reserves, especially in a desert area such as the Chubut River Valley. On a nation-state centralized framework, such as the Argentinean, local practitioners must endure with minimal governmental capabilities to govern their territories. Mainly, the city of Trelew relies massively on both economic and political capital from the wider layers of government, the former because of the economic dependency and the latter because of a historic-driven nation-state territorial authority. This hegemonic model has been dropping legitimacy on time because of the institutionalization of neoliberalism and local townships must rely considerably on their own resources while enclosed in obsolete legal frameworks. Urban land, which has always been an asset, has turned into the leading financial commodity for economic transactions (and as a non-depreciable good in an unstable economy) in the face of a real estate market that has greater economic power over the territory than the fragile municipal state.

Reflexive exercise II: Fieldwork

Fieldwork is an essential part of the research – it is a possibility to provide you with empirical material upon which to build and put the arguments into perspective regarding the research question(s) and hypotheses. However, fieldwork has other dimensions that are more often than not somewhat occluded or even elided; for instance, contextual singularities that frame the case being examined and are captured and documented through field notes, pictures, video recordings and the like that, for a variety of reasons, do not make it “one-to-one” into the “definitive contours” of a written dissertation. Thus, the doctoral candidates were encouraged to share purposefully part of the experience they have had during their fieldwork, including an excerpt of a field note, an image (from a photograph to sketch to a collage) accompanied by an explanatory text or any other sort of communicative “vessel” that they may have developed or would like to use.

Higher Education: Battsetseg Altankhuyag – Ullaabbaatar, Mongolia

For fieldwork, I have visited universities to conduct interviews and to carry out a survey. I was able to meet various people such as students, lecturers and administrative staff.  For interviews, lecturers and staff members were fine to participate in the study and answered all the questions openly. However, for some students, it was kind of a new experience that they usually looked at me suspiciously that they tried to keep away. When carrying out a survey, most of the universities were reluctant to take part in the survey.  They did not like the idea of someone from outside taking a survey from their students although it was explained clearly beforehand that the survey is not for evaluating certain universities or no particular names of universities will be specified. Through the fieldwork, it was interesting to see how Mongolian universities consider this kind of study as some type of evaluation or monitoring.




From outside of a public university in Mongolia.


From inside of a private university in Mongolia: students stand in front of entrance to welcome people daily.


Watermanagement I: Hammams: Hajar Nourredine – Casablanca, Morocco

The fieldwork is located in an extension area of Casablanca, generally inhabited by a lower class population that is not accustomed to such activities in the Hammam. I was allowed to carry out water samples only during working hours, access was only possible in the women’s room, camera, smartphone, and any other device that could cause discomfort to the customers was strictly forbidden, for privacy protection.

The experience of visiting the Hammam and explaining to the staff of the Hammam, the need to carry out water samples to evaluate the quality of wastewater discharged by the Hammam, is very important. Before carrying out the sampling, it was necessary to introduce the matter to the local people, to avoid any misunderstandings on behalf of the clients of the Hammam who might be embarrassed by my presence or doubt about the quality of the bathing water. I expected it to be difficult, but once I noticed a curious visitor, I took the initiative to explain what I was doing, first I was timid, but after several times I felt more comfortable talking to them.


Figure 1. Pictures showing the traditional Hammam in Casablanca, which is composed of a basement for the heating system using wood energy (which explains the black traces on the walls), two separated rooms one for men and one for women, in the first and second floor. © Hajar Nourredine.

Figure 2. Location of Hammam Moulay Yaccoub. © Hajar Nourredine and N. Chakri.


Watermanagement II: Urban Water Security Index: Nomundari Erdene – Ullaanbaatar, Mongolia

The goal of the field works is to set and draw a framework for the development of the water security index of Ulaanbaatar city. The scope of field works would include: data collection, site spatial analysis, conduction of interviews.

In the reporting period, the focus areas of the field work have been: wellfields of Ulaanbaatar city water supply, water supply provision systems, water consumption in ger areas and the sanitation issues of Ulaanbaatar city. During the field work it has been evident that the focus areas are interconnected with each other, having profound impact on the state of performance and condition (Figure 1).



Figure 1. Focus areas of field work.

Figure 2. Water provision and the water consumption of Ulaanbaatar city.

Figure 3. Skyline of, and wastewater treatment plant and the sanitation conditions in, Ulaanbaatar City.


In the framework of the research work, a volunteer-based platform has been established to gather and convene knowledge exchange from the local water experts and practitioner, this would allow support in data collection, conducting interviews as well as discussion on the topic of water security of Ulaanbaatar city.

Conducting interviews was an easy task, my experience has shown that people in general were passionate and interested about talking about water, giving inputs from their own subjective perspectives and presenting their own ideas on how to improve the current water management condition, and this not only applies to the practitioners from the water sector. Most profound outcome of the field work would be my realisation and understanding of the huge segregation and inequality within a small community that co-exist in the same spatial and temporal scale. So far, the biggest hindrance for my research work would be the availability of reliable data.


Education for sustainable development: Mina Radić Sibinović – Belgrade, Serbia

As part of my Ph.D. research, fieldwork is planned for September 2022 when the next school year in Serbia starts. A participatory approach will be used to answer the research question: How can pupils and other school community members contribute to the vertical garden design used as a successful built environment education tool for tackling local urban sustainability issues. Upon exact school selection in Belgrade and consent of school community members to participate, primary school age-appropriate gamified workshops will be particularly developed so the children can co-design a low-cost vertical garden. The related objectives of this fieldwork are the development of an educational gamified participatory vertical garden design process later applicable in other schools, collected data published in a scientific journal, and finally used as input data for the last Ph.D. research phase. Figure 1 also presents expected results and potential issues of each fieldwork step.

Figure 1 – Fieldwork steps


(Post-)Colonial Epistemologies: Boniface Nevanji Bwanyire – Harare, Zimbabwe

One of the most striking fieldwork experiences so far has been visiting the Great Zimbabwe, an ancient African city, which is located in Masvingo, Zimbabwe. The site offers interesting insights regarding African conceptions of the city and is a reservoir of ‘untapped’ spatial knowledge that can be useful in contemporary discussions of urban sustainability. I was particularly struck by how “cultural consciousness” played a critical role in giving me access to the ancient city, gathering data, and developing rapport with the locals, amongst other issues. In reflection, I realise it was much more useful than my typical “bookish” Qualitative research knowledge that I initially thought I would deploy in the field.

The outer perimeter wall of the Great Enclosure with its iconic chevron pattern at the top (top) and the Conical Tower (bottom), which is part of the Great Enclosure and a symbol of identity for the nation of Zimbabwe. The Great Enclosure is one of three main parts of the ancient city of Great Zimbabwe.

Source: Pictures taken by Boniface Nevanji Bwanyire


Juvenile delinquency: Khumo Motshwari  – Gaborone, Botswana

The pre-data collection visit to the research site (Botswana Institute for Rehabilitation & Reintegration of Offenders) has yielded a lot of knowledge, and exposed the researcher to certain challenges that may arise during data collection phase. During my visit to the research site, few of the probable respondents were on isolation due to COVID 19, and this implies that more data collection time might be needed. Some of the available respondents were not offering a warm welcome due to their own personal frustrations and struggles. In my conversation with the centre management, they informed the researcher that seeking for parental consent from parents/guardians whose youngsters are in the centre is sometimes a challenge as some parents stay far away in the rural villages and cattle posts. Therefore as a researcher, I should create ample time and resources to make follow up to the parents. The last challenge that was observed is that some of the respondents in the centre may have passed the age of 18 years old, and this forces the researcher to interview respondents that are at home and have completed their rehabilitation period.


Knowledge on homeless deaths: Caio Moraes Reis – Sao Paulo, Brazil

I smiled, as a confidant, wanting to indicate that I understood him. I wanted him to keep talking, to keep expressing himself. I felt in him a lot of repressed rebellion for the need to work performing as a showman, seducing people with his still childish face, but his “malandro” way, with his naughty, broken, rhythmic gait. I thought about what kind of future he might have if he did not have so many needs: a family, a State, a society to effectively protect him from the lack of future, of hope, of citizenship. I felt a deep anguish, and the desire to hug him, to cry for a future for him, prestigious as his namesake, a brilliant former soccer player. […] I said goodbye to him and his colleagues. I wished them success. But maybe they have not realized the ultimate meaning of the success that I have really wished for them. And I condoled that, in the midst of so many deprivations, they had each other. In a world of such scarcity, that was already a lot.

[Notes from my field notebook, registered on December 14th, 2021, at 9h30].

Homeless children playing and swimming in the pond of ‘Praça da República’, an iconic square in downtown São Paulo (27.12.2021) | Author: Regiane Garcia | Source: My Action 4’s fieldwork notebook, 2021, p. 110.

Vernacular heritage: Ernest Blendire Moronda  – Stone Town, Zanzibar

My first sojourn in Zanzibar was on 2nd December 2021. The visit aimed at familiarization of fieldwork setting and rapport building. Coincidentally, I arrived on the ‘Stone Town day’ designated to celebrate the Stone Town heritage. A few questions came up in my mind: who engineered the idea of celebrating ‘the heritage’? Why has it begun now? Who were the participants? Are Stone Town residents aware of this day? And what is their take? Responses to these quick questions gave me rough an idea of what I should expect and look forward to during the proper fieldwork.

Photo: Stone Town Day Banner taken in Stone Town at the Old Fort main entrance

Photo credit: Ernest Moronda


Migration fluxes: Helmia Adita Fitra – Lampung Province, Indonesia

In this part, I will share my experiences derived from a multi-sited ethnography as my research strategy that emerged during my first fieldwork. The fieldwork was conducted in Lampung Province of Indonesia, between July to September 2021 and consisted of semi-structured interviews. This experience is not only telling about how the fieldwork was conducted but also turned out to be lessons for those dealing with multi-sited ethnography in a pandemic situation. Dealing with multi-sited ethnography in a pandemic situation is very valuable yet challenging due to: (1) unpredicted travel policy which encouraged the researcher to combine other methods in participant and data collection; and (2) a very strict health policy which make it difficult for the researcher to build a strong bonding with participants and local residents. To experience directly how returning migrant dealing with their local community, I myself have to visit the participants’ sites directly in a short period of time, to see how the participant interact with their neighbours and how the neighbours react. Despite the fact that the participants were very open to the visit, it actually made the local residents anxious, even though I had finished a self-quarantine. This situation made me pull myself back for a while. While waiting for the situation getting conducive to visit them back, I continue to communicate intensively with participants via online media to keep updated their situation. Initially, I questioned whether the combination of the methods used, such as using online media, to get participants and interview media could override the value of multi-site ethnography and thus lessen the validity of the data obtained. However, over time, I realized that in this pandemic situation, the multi-site ethnography strategy could not necessarily be implemented in a traditional way. I believe that the patchwork in finding alternative methods such as the use of online communication media and direct site visits could actually maximize data collection, without diminishing the significance of multi-site ethnography.


Figure 1. Using online media and direct visits in reaching returning migrants in a pandemic situation.

Source: Personal documentation, 2021

Description of the Picture: During the pandemic, to visit in person is no longer reliable to obtain data from participants. Thus, the researcher combined the use of online media to maximize data collection from the participants. The use of online media is not only an alternative interview media, but also a mean for researchers and participants to get to know each other at the beginning before meeting in person between the researchers and the participants.


Heritage and renewal: Khannaphaphone Phakhounthong – Luang Prabang, Laos

I have undertaken my pilot fieldwork in the Stone Town of Zanzibar, a world heritage site. My motivation to observe this town lies in its incredible similarity of LPB in socio-political, cultural, and historical aspects. My research started in January 2022 using informal observation and interviews. I stayed at Kiponda street for 3 weeks, learning a few crucial words in Swahili language to instill confidence in my communication. The multiculturality, hospitality, sociability, and willing-to-assist people were the most impressive aspects that could catch one’s eye. I rarely felt like a stranger in this vibrant town, encompassing cultural diversity despite being a Muslim majority. Behind that image, being a student myself, I experienced how expensive it could be to rent a small room at the heart of the town. As per my observation, things are rated at foreign prices, which economically suffocates the locals.

Both pictures show the similarities as world heritage sites and the perfect blending between local and colonial architecture and how it became tourist attractions by its charms and traditions.

The first picture is the seafront view showing the skyline of different types of architecture in Stone Town, Zanzibar.

The second picture was taken from Mount-Phousi, located in the heart of the old town Luang Prabang, showing the traditional architecture and its ambience.


Result-based planning in spatial plans: Samaneh Niazkhani – Tehran, Iran

Kerman is one of the four provinces selected in the research. In my first experience in Kerman, natural-historical tourist attractions (mines, gardens and mansions with Iranian architecture, Bam citadel, etc.), the presence of women heads of households (one of whom was my transporter) , Various handicrafts, the different face of the city in the neighborhoods and the existence of many worn-out textures in the poorer neighborhoods of the city, the great distance of cities from each other and the difficulty of transportation, the prevalence of addiction among men and so on were significant. Also, in the meetings that I had with the experts preparing the spatial plan of the province, some points such as Accelerate urbanization and desire to turn settlements into cities and increase the number of cities; Private sector participation in large projects such as wastewater; Need to replace suitable fuel in rural settlements; Unauthorized settlements on water resources were remarkable. So the points that were highlighted towards the sustainability of its settlements in first fieldwork were as follows as shown in Figure1.

These points, some of which are directly and some inversely related to the sustainability of settlements, will be sifted after the finalization of the theoretical framework of the research and determination of the boundaries of the research in the wide concept of sustainability and will focus on the required items.

Figure 1: points of sustainable settlements in kerman


Locally-driven territorial administration: Mitchell de Sousa – Trelew, Argentina

The planning department of Trelew is on the second floor of its City Hall. They accumulate most of the data that I rely upon for my project. And despite being on the spot, that department was unreachable. While the physical distance was almost none (I was renting an apartment two blocks away from it), there were “abstract” distances that not even my self-claimed up tided profile as a “foreigner researcher” (born in Buenos Aires, raised in Brazil, and graduated in Germany) would intrigue them enough to open the doors for me to their offices.

The limits between public and private to the planning department office were just a few desks. Not even walls were separating the rest of the citizens of Trelew, that were doing their daily bureaucrat procedures and I from practitioners. I could had have stepped inside, but there was something telling me I shouldn’t, and it was the “who” I was in there.

While asking around, some workers gave me directions of how I should address my request. The common procedure was to send a letter addressed to the chief of the planning department at the main reception. And with the vanity of being a “foreigner researcher”, I thought I would receive an instant call. I later found out that they filed the letter almost immediately. Then, I shifted my strategy. And that was to purse for public attention, networking with people in different environments and “snowballing” around, mingling with political figures associated with the mayor. By doing all that, I became a citizen of Trelew and I humbled both my profile as a researcher and my project approach.

Finally, when the local practitioners invited me to step further into the desk of that mysterious second floor, they all admitted, after meeting me, the scepticism of whom I was. They said: “We thought it was some sort of joke that someone from the TU Berlin, who was not even from Trelew, was interested in doing some sort of research on… well, this place”. As their faces went from surprise to disgust when they finished that sentence, I was frazzled. After all, this reaction was not alien to anyone that I met in the city, to whom I explained what I had come to Trelew to do.

Disclaimer: I have not given names to maintain the discretion of those who have made it possible for me to get as far as I have. It is a promise I must keep maintaining for instituti integrity (and my own).