Urban morphology of displacement
Migration and Cities


Displacement is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges of the 21st century. The accelerated rates of forcibly displacement growth worldwide has also, forcibly exacerbated the urban growth of informal settlements in the periphery of cities. This has been creating what has been described as ‘mutant territories’ (CNMH, 2015) and municipalities do not have the infrastructure and capacity to respond to these due to the unpredictable nature and complex understanding of these socio-environmental-political conflicts. These new forms of ‘forced urbanisation’ often are not officially recognised due to their lack of ‘formality’. Local officials rarely understand their dynamics, creating responses that often exacerbate problems. These ‘invisible territories’ are a confrontation of ‘representation of space’ (how space is conceived) and ‘spaces of representation’ (how the space is ´lived´) that is not necessarily aligned with ‘spatial practice’ and raises the question whether displacement and re-settlement processes are well understood or not.


This research project addresses the global challenge of internal force displacement, rural-urban and interurban migrations and disruptive urban growth. The research will contribute to the understanding of spatial production during forced displacement processes by investigating :

  • How ´invisible territories´ affect the existing urban tissue?
  • What innovative design principles could be introduced to tackle the provision of appropriate long-term housing solutions to displaced populations worldwide?
  • How examining spatial (in)justice in displacement-resettling scenarios could inform policies addressing the need for sustainable housing solutions for displaced populations
  • What (legal) forms have urban policies assumed in order to encourage spatial forms of alienation?