CBE Research Portal

May 21, 2020

Informal Urban Communities Initiative (Traction)

The Informal Urban Communities Initiative (IUCI) is a design activism, research and education program based in Seattle, Peru and Nepal. It focuses on the design, implementation and assessment of community-driven interventions in the built environment and places particular emphasis on the integrated, interdisciplinary design of distributed infrastructure and public space. 

The IUCI aims to improve human and environmental health and well-being, to build the capacity of designers and other professionals to work effectively with marginalized communities and to gather evidence that informs best practices in these contexts. Students work together with faculty, professionals and community members to conduct participatory design workshops, execute design interventions and evaluate the impacts of interventions.

The IUCI fosters close collaboration with poor urban communities through participatory processes that privilege local knowledge, resources and capacities and empower community members as the drivers of change; promotes long term relationships and a multi-scaled approach to community design that integrates small scale interventions and adaptable planning; encourages ecologically intelligent, distributed infrastructure strategies that improve quality of life without externalizing environmental burdens; favors integrated, multifunctional solutions that engage culturally contingent aesthetics and enhance the public realm; and monitors and evaluates project evolution over many years to gain a better understanding of project impacts.

 The IUCI works in close collaboration with informal urban communities to address challenges ranging from a lack of public green space, to water insecurity. Since 2010 they have worked with community members from Lomas de Zapallal in Lima Peru. More recently we have partnered with community members in Claverito, Iquitos, Peru and Pongro Senchey, Phnom Penh Cambodia.