About Roberto Rocco

I am an Associate Professor at the Section Spatial Planning and Strategy of the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. Our chair is one of the leading research centres in spatial planning in Europe. I am the editor of the Routledge Handbook on Informal Urbanisation. If you want to contact me, please write to r.c.rocco@tudelft.nl

Competition 2018 launched!

Confronting Informality


CI_PosterDesign_FinalTU Delft, in partnership with universities all over the world, is launching an ideas competition for students from any discipline concerned with the built environment and sustainable urban development. The question we wish to answer is: how to create healthy, safe and resilient living environments in informal settlements, while preserving livelihoods and social networks? How to create public goods in informal settlements while avoiding displacement?

We live in an urban world, but unplanned explosive processes of urbanisation in developing countries mean that informal settlements are growing in population and size, often without infrastructure, access to sanitation and good quality public space, without easy access to jobs and services, and many other challenges.

This ideas competition addresses the challenges of slums, as defined by UN-Habitat and addresses the need to promote sustainable, fair and inclusive urbanisation based on the principles of the New Urban Agenda.  

We wish to create a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas. We also wish to connect to students and teachers everywhere working on these topics and to foster a community of people who together will face the challenges of urbanisation in the Global South.

The winners of this competition will earn 3000 euros and be invited to showcase their work in the Rethink the City MOOC.

Please, visit our website for more information on how to participate and the prizes. https://confrontinginformality.org/competition/

2015 in review

This is the 2015 annual report for the BLOG “Confronting Informality”. Most of our visitor come from Brazil, followed by the Netherlands and the UK.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,000 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 50 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Alexander Jachnow


As member of the discussion panel, we are proud to present dr. Alexander Jachnow. He has worked in informal settlements in Mexico, Brazil and lately in Bangladesh on diverse levels, such as housing improvements, favela upgrading and reconstruction. He leads different projects that focused on dealing with slums and informality in an inclusive way. He believes in encouraging people to work on place- and city-making beyond the widely constructed dichotomy of formal vs. informal.


David Juárez


David is restless inhabitant, architect and co-founder of Straddle3, a multidisciplinary team that work with open source environments. He is also an active member of Arquitecturas Colectivas network. Next to their current projects including a private house self-built by its owner out of recycled materials, they are also working on free software tools for collaborative architecture and urban transformation.

Rohan Varma


Rohan Varma graduated as an architect from KRVIA (University of Mumbai) in 2009. After working for two years at Charles Correa Associates in Mumbai, he was invited to teach for a year at the KRVIA in Mumbai. In 2011, he was awarded the JN Tata and KC Mahindra Scholarships to pursue higher studies abroad, subsequently graduating with honorable mention from the Delft University of technology (TU Delft) in 2013 with a Masters in Architecture. His final year thesis project Integrating Informality under the tutelage of Prof. Dick van Gameren was nominated for the Dutch Archiprix Award. Since graduating he is working as an architect at the Delft based Mecanoo Architecten, while simultaneously writing articles on affordable housing and informality in the Developing World along with professors from the TU Delft.

Jaap Klaarenbeek


Jaap is urban designer, architect and partner of Posad-Rosa Estratégias Espaciais, Spatial Strategies. Since 2008 he carried out various projects in Brazil in the formal and informal city. He believes that good spatial strategies render the formal/informal dichotomy irrelevant.

“In the past years I have worked in various Brazilian communities and grass-root projects, but also for formal clients. During the TU Delft informality meeting I would like to focus on how dealing with informality is inescapable when doing projects in Brazil. Questions on how to deal with informal processes in the city always pop-up, also while working formal clients as municipalities. This leads to interesting situations and solutions that attempt to bridge the gap between what is often seen as a dichotomy. I will explain this showing a project we have recently done for the municipality of São Bernardo, which asked us the devise a strategy to improve the quality of their sidewalks.”