Habitat Unit

Senior Researcher

Dr. Paola Alfaro d'Alençon

Paola Alfaro d'Alençon


Room A 505 
T + 49 – 30 – 314 – 29177 
F + 49 – 30 – 314 – 29178

Curriculum Vitae

Dr. Ing. Paola Alfaro d'Alençon has been a senior researcher ad lecturer for urban design and theory at the Habitat Unit since November 2010. At the TU Berlin she has also co-founded and is the project director of the Urban Research and Design Laboratory, a studies reform project supported by the president of the TU Berlin for enhancing the interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral exchanges between teaching, research and practice in the built environment disciplines. The project started in 2011 and continues to run today. From 2005-2006, Paola was a lecturer and researcher at the Habitat Unit, before she followed the invitation and fellowship offer from the P. Universidad Catolica de Chile and the Chilean Ministry of research and education for a 24-month Ph.D research position. During this time she was also co-researching at the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam and the Eindhoven University. In 2011, she finished her doctoral dissertation at the TU Berlin and earned a double from the Universidad Catolica de Chile in 2013 for the work 'The production of urban space through mobility – The case of the Stadtbahn in Berlin'.

Beside her research activities, she has gained a wide range of experiences during national and international practice in architecture and urban design. Since 2003, she has obtained the architect title from the Berliner Chamber of Architects and Planers. She works freelance and in consultancy positions for diverse international organisations for several revitalisation projects in former industrial, railway and harbour areas.

Paola Alfaro d'Alençon's research focuses on different rationalities in urban development process. She started in her Phd-thesis with research on megaprojects and citizen participation, such as urban transportation spaces in Santiago and Berlin and international comparative case studies. She is extending her research focus on these topics to prepare a DFG research project on Urban Governance looking at international perspectives on processes and results. By investigating new forms of urban governance, as cooperative approaches to urban development between state, private sector and civil society actors, she is researching to what extent cooperative approaches are important drivers of urban development and to what extent the results differ depending on the constellation of actors involved. Currently, she is finishing her research work 'Ephemeral Urbanism' (with funding from the Wüstenrot Stiftung from 2012-2014) on different modes of urban production between state, private sector and civil participation in Germany.

Paola Alfaro d'Alençon teaches on the international Urban Management master's course as well as master's courses in architecture and urban design.


2006 – 2013
Philosophical Doctorate (Ph.D.), Universidad Católica de Chile en Estudios Urbanos y Arquitectura
(Thesis) The production of urban space through transport infrastructure. (Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Rosanna Forray, Prof. Dr. Pablo Allard, Prof. Dr. Oscar Figueroa, external Prof. Dr. Marcel Smets).

Degree in Urban Studies (Dr.-Ing.), Technische Universität Berlin
(Thesis) The production of urban space through mobility - Research on megaprojects in Berlin from a social-spatial perspective. (Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle and Prof. Dr. Rosanna Forray).

1994 – 2000
Degree Engineer (Dipl.-Ing., completed "with distinction"), TU Berlin
(Thesis) Strategies for sustainable urban development in urban transport spaces. (Supervisors: Prof. Klaus Zillich and Prof. Kees Christiansee).

1992 – 1998
Student Trainee, Faskel + Becker Architekten, Berlin, Competition work and expert reports for competition (Reichstag, Regierungsviertel in Berlin, Klingerhöfer Dreick, Pariser Platz).

Employment History+

Since 2010
Senior Researcher and Lecturer
Habitat Unit, TU Berlin

Program director 
Urban Research and Design Laboratory (U-Lab)

Guest Senior Lecturer and Mentor
Leuphana University, Lüneburg for class on Urban Development: Future City with Prof. Daniel Liebeskind

2008 – 2010
Researcher and Lecturer
Habitat Unit, TU Berlin

Since 2009
Professional Qualification for Consultancy and Project management in the area of international development cooperation: Capacity Works – Zertifikat, Denkmodell, Berlin

International Consultancy for local municipalities and international organization for urban planning, housing development, inter-disciplinary slum-up grading programs, urban conversion, participatory urban development, including the following assignments as principal partner in India, Turkey, Chile, Brazil

UNAM, Mexico – City, Short Course on urban development in Mexico City, Mexico City – 2050, supported by the DAAD

2005 – 2006
International research activities
P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Research focus: Megaprojects and urban development (Transport infrastructure, revitalization of former haven areas)

Guest lecturer 
P. Universidad Católica de Chile in the Planning and Architecture Master Program, for urban theory and design, DAAD short-term lectureship

Guest lecturer
Cornell University, APP – Architecture, Art, Planning in NY/USA in the Planning Program, for new tendencies in urban development

Since 2003
Urban Design and Architectural Practices as Freelancer, also with Faskel + Becker Architekten, Berlin

Research Projects+

2013 – 2015
Epheme Stadtentwicklung - Ziele und Handlungsebenen in der Planungspraxis. 

Urban Research and Design Laboratory (U-Lab), TU Berlin; Urban renewal and its implications for the national planning culture, urban policy developments and forms of citizen participation, Initiator and responsible main researcher, supported by Wüstenrot Stiftung

Participation strategies and policies in urban development in Berlin and Istanbul. 

Forum Berlin Istanbul e.V. and Urban Research and Design Laboratory (U-Lab), TU Berlin; Supported by Mercator Stiftung

Since 2012
International Network of Urban Laboratory – For the research on Urban Inclusion and the enhancement of global education in the built environment disciplines. 

EU-Project, Habitat Unit and Urban Research and Design Laboratory (U-Lab), TU Berlin; Partners: Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies, Mumbai, India; University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile; The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China; Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; Università della Calabria, Italy; University College London, UK

2010 – 2013
HMW- Housing Manufacturing Water for the Urban Poor.

Habitat Unit and Prof. Dr. Günther Seliger, Prof. Dr. Barjenbruch; Second Group of Exceed Program for promoting development cooperation in the academic field, Partners: Technical University of Oruro, Bolivia; P. Universidad Católica,Santiago, Chile; Universidad de la Frontera, Temuco, Chile; University of Stellenbosch, South Africa; University Botswana Gaborone, Botswana; KRVIA - Institute, Mumbai, India; UFES - Universidad Federal do Espirito Santo, Brazil; Universidad de São Paulo, Brazil, supported by the DAAD /BMZ

Urban reconversion strategies for Galata Port, with experts and local authorities. 

Beykent University and Urban Research Center Istanbul

2002 – 2003
Regional Development Plan for the Region XI (Aysén) in Chile. 

DAAD/ BMZ Project. Habitat Unit, TU Berlin, Head of research: Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle

1999 – 2001
Physical densification in informal settlements of Lima and Mexico-City.

DFG Project. Habitat Unit, TU Berlin, Head of research: Prof. Dr. Peter Herrle



with Planungslabor, eds. (2014) Planungslabor: Stadtspree-Kiezspree – Konzepte für die Obere Stadtspree in Berlin. Universitätsverlag TU Berlin, Berlin.

(2011) The production of urban space through mobility. Berlin.

with W. Imilian and L. Sanchez, eds. (2011) Lateinamerikanische Städte im Wandel. Sammelband zur Entwicklung der Lateinamerikanischen Stadt. Lit-Verlag, Berlin.


Book contributions

with Bauerfeind, B.; Konrad, D. (2014) Zwischennutzungen - Das Ephemere in der Stadtentwicklung. PlanerIn, Schwerpunktheft-Nr. 4/2014, Städtebau – Entwurf.

(2013) Housing for the Urban Poor - Between formal planning processes and the 'Right to the City' in Latin-American urban geographies. In: LabTAR, eds. Solucoes para urbanizacao do territorio do bem.

(2013) Problems and potentials of current inner-city urban renewal strategies. In: Gür, S. and Kuyumcu, Y., eds. Transforming the Galata District. A practise based research on transformation.

(2011) Mandala – A highly contested urban space. In: GIZ, ed.Mumbai-Sustainable habitats in India. GIZ Publication.

(2011) Network societies and changed work environments. In: Becker, N. ed. Place 2.5: Creat and Recreat. Sedus Stoll AG.


Refereed articles

with Bettina Bauerfeind and Daniela Konrad (2014) Zwischennutzungen - Das Ephemere in der Stadtentwicklung. PlanerIn, (4).


Other articles and publications

(2012) Strategien für öffentliche Räume an der Spree. Co-Housing Cultures – Handbuch für selbstorganisiertes, gemeinschaftliches und nachhaltiges Wohnen, Berlin: Jovis-Verlag.

(2011) Visionen vs. Konflikte – Der Spreeraum zwischen Elsen- und Schillingbrücke in Berlin. In: Hofmann, A., Polinna, C., Richter, J., Schlaack, J. eds. Beyond Planwerk Innenstadt. Neue Ideen – Strategische Entwicklung weiterdenken!, Center for Metropolitan Studies, TU Berlin.

with Peters, D (2010) Bahnhöfe als Motoren der Stadt- und Quartiersentwicklung. Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI e.V.: Transformation, Europacity – Quartier am Nordhafen, Berlin.

with Konrad, D. (2010) Stadtspree – Kiezspree, Strategien für die Entwicklung des Spreeraums in Berlin. Ideenaufruf Kreuzberger Ufer, Berlin.

(2010) Transport Infrastructure as urban developers? Exberliner: Transit Metropolis, Berlin.

with Couling, N.; Konrad, D. (2010) Angewandte Forschung im Spreeraum. In: Baunetz, Berlin.

with Moris, R. (2008) 'Vacíos Interiores'-Regeneración Urbana: Consolidación y Sustentabilidad de un Mercado en Desarrollo. In:Mercado y Ciudad: Desafíos de un País Urbano. Observatorio Ciudades UC & Banco BBVA.


Conference Proceedings

with Schlack, E. Turnbull, N. (2014) A critical view on the development of Megaprojects and Retail-cluster in Santiago de Chile between Neo-Liberalization and Globalization. Proceedings AESOP Conference 2014, Delft.

with Morris, R. (2009) Gentrification – Sustainable Urban Development Strategies in the urban planning process of Santiago centre. Proceedings SET Conference, Seoul.


Conference Papers 

(2015) Understanding Global Learning in the built environment discipline, Planen – Bauen – Umwelt: Ein Jahrhundert des Austausches zwischen der TU und chinesischen Partnern, Technische Universität Berlin.

(2014) The Case of Territorio do Bem in Vitoria, Brazil - Understanding current social movements as grassroots, their aims, actors and networks, International Conference Real Change? - Exploring and Assessing Ways to Co-Produce Knowledge for Tangible Transformations, N-Aerus 15th Conference, ULB, Brussels.

(2014) A critical View on the Development of Megaprojects and Retail-Clusters in Santiago de Chile between Neo-Liberalization and Globalization, AESOP Kongress, Utrecht/Delft.

(2014) Von der Subkultur zur strategischen Planung – Ephemere Stadtentwicklung als Entwicklungsstrategie in Berlin, Urban Lab+, International Conference on interculturality and urban development, KRVIA - Institute, Mumbai, Indien.

(2013) Who wins and who loses in transportation megaprojects? - Critical reflections on interdisciplinary developments in Berlin, Urban Lab+ International Conference on urban development, Pontificia Universidad Católica, Santiago, Chile.

(2013) Die perfekte Mischung in Stadtquartieren? Workshop in Participatory Spatial Planning Istanbul - Berlin, Urban Management Program with national Authorities at Technische Universität, Berlin.

(2013) Integrative Nachbarschaftsentwicklung? – Das Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin. Workshop Smart Housing, The Metropolitan Laboratory, Galerie AEDES, Berlin.

(2013) Städtebauliche Strategien für bezahlbaren Wohnraum – Versuchsfeld Nord-Neukölln. Co-Housing– Lernen von Erfahrungen aus Berlin, Mailand und New York City, Forum der UfA-Fabrik, Berlin.

(2012) Urban Development at the Tempelhofer Feld in Berlin, Summer academy, Ars 13 at Designing for Multi-ethnical societies, Beuth Hochschule, Berlin.

(2012) The perfect mix for more liveliness in the city? Workshop Participatory Spatial Planning Istanbul - Berlin, Urban Management Program and national authorities, Technische Universität, Berlin.

(2012) Zukunft des Spreeraums zwischen Michael- und Schillingbrücke und seine Bedeutung für städtische Entwicklungen in Berlin. Symposium BAULÖWEN HOLZKATZEN WASSERRATTEN, DAZ Deutsches Architekturzentrum, Berlin.

(2012) Sozial-Integratives Wohnen - Leitbilder für die Quartiersentwicklung in Nordneukölln und an den Randflächen der Tempelhofer Freiheit.  Workshop on Urban Development Strategies, AEDES Network Campus, Berlin.

(2011) Der richtige Mix für mehr Lebendigkeit im Quartier - Strategische Ansätze aus der Forschung, Integrative district development strategies – research approaches, Regionen - Dialog, Metropolregion Rhein – Neckar, Mannheim.

(2011) Neugestaltung von Stadtquartieren am Wasser - Internationale Perspektiven. Waterfront re-developments from a international perspective, Workshop 6. Veranstaltung, Stadtgespräche Wasser, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Berlin.

(2011) Gentrifizierung und Stadterneuerung und ihre sozial-räumlichen Konsequenzen. Gentrification in urban renewal and its social – spatial consequences, Workshop Galata Tower and its Environments, Beykent University and local planning authorities.

(2011) Who builds the city? Workshop on tendencies for derelict urban areas in Valparaiso, Poiesis e Innovación, desarrollo urbano de Valparaíso, Universidad de Valparaíso and local planning authorities.

(2010) Megastädte, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehrsplanung, Szenarien für Nachhaltigen Konsum, Workshop Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklungen der Bundesregierung Deutschland, upported by GIZ, Berlin.

(2010) Nachhaltige Stadtentwicklung und soziales Unternehmertum – Kooperation zwischen Universitäten und Praxis in der Stadtentwicklung, Workshop zur Stadtentwicklung durch soziales Unternehmertum, Georg-Simmel-Zentrum für Metropolenforschung, Humboldt Universität, Berlin.

(2010) The production of urban space through mobility. Presentation PhD at the Promotionscolloquium and Workshop Nachhaltige Infrastruktur und Raumenwicklung, Technische Universität, Darmstadt.


Conference panel chairs

(2015) The Politics of Practice-Orientation, Chair of the Symposium, Urban Lab+, EU Project, at the TU Berlin and AEDES-Network Campus, Berlin.

(2014) Who wins and who loses in transportation megaprojects? - Critical reflections on interdisciplinary developments in Berlin. Urban Lab+, International Conference on Urban Development, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

(2014) Intercultural Dimensions of Territory. Moderation,Urban Lab+, International Conference on Urban Development, laba-Basel, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland.

(2014) Ephemere Stadtentwicklung – Neue Handlungsspielräume, TU Berlin, Research project for Wüstenrot Stiftung with the support of the Bundesstiftung Baukultur.

(2014) Housing, Manufacturing, Water for the urban poor, Chairwoman of the conference with support of GIZ– Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit at Technische Universität, Berlin.

(2011) Network conference on sustainable urban development in times of global crises and energy shortcomings. 
Leading moderation on Megacities panel. Participants: Hopkins, Sam and Initiators 'Kibera Public Space Project' (Nairobi, Kenya);
 Ravindran, K.T. and PUKAR - Partners for Urban Knowledge Action and Research (New Delhi, Indien), Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Initiative Überlebenskunst Berlin, Berlin.

Invited Lectures+

(2015) Ephemeral Urbanism. Festival for Architecture and Urban Alternatives-Make City, at the Self Made City: Mechanisms of Alternative Urban Development Panel.

(2015) Moderation of the Event: Mediaspree oder Spreeufer für alle? - Was ist aus den Forderungen des Bürgerentscheides von 2008 geworden? Festival for Architecture and Urban Alternatives-Make City.

(2015) Co-produced space, Tempelhofer Feld? Making Cities Work of the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

(2015) Expert input: Understanding the Development of Vacant Spaces in Berlin. Workshop in the frame of the National Competition Zukunftsbilder einer grünen Stadt, Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR), Berlin.

Grants, Awards, and Fellowships+

Label Nationale Stadtentwicklung
awarded for innovative research and education from Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (BBSR) and Bundesministeriums für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bauen und Reaktorsicherheit (BMUB)

DFG Grant 
awarded for presentation of Post-Doc Research: Ephemere Stadtentwicklung at the international scientific congress Megacities – Megachallenge, Informal Dynamics of Global Change, Bonn

DAAD Grant for presentation of Post-Doc Research on Community Participation and Community-Based Design Strategies in marginalized urban settlements, international conference with experts, local authorities and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, Chile

ALFA Grant – European Union fellowship 
awarded for 12-month research in the context of PhD studies on Megaprojects in the European context at the Berlage Institute and the Eindhoven University at the NetherlandsResearch on architecture design and urban tendencies in the framework of globalization

2006 – 2007
MESESUP PhD Grant, Chilean Government fellowship
awarded for 18-month research at the P. Universidad Católica de Chile, Research on Megaprojects and citizen participation. Publication and Symposium „Movilidad – Movilidades": On urban transportation spaces

DAAD Grant 
awarded for presentation of PhD Research on Urban Renewal, Pitfalls and Challenges for integrative urban developments, international conference with experts, local authorities. Dönüsüm, Istanbul, Türkei, Sustainable Urban Design Center Istanbul, Turkei

Architekturpreis Technische Universität Berlin
nominated for Master Thesis at Technische Universität Berlin

Professional and Academic Affiliations+

RC21: Research Committee 21
Member (Since 2013)

ANBC The Metropolitan Laboratory, AEDES Network Campus Berlin (Since 2012)

Visionen - Stadt 21, Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft, BDI e.V.
Advisory board (Since 2011)

EURE – Estudios Urbano Regionales Latinoamerica
Member of Editorial Board at Revista Latinoamericana (Since 2011)

Partner of the ALFA III Project, The restructuring of Higher Education for the 21st Century in the Expanded Field of Urban Design and Urbanism (Since 2011)

T2M - International Association for the History of Transport, Traffic and Mobility (Since 2006)

TRIALOG - Verein zur wissenschaftlichen Erforschung des Planens und Bauens in Entwicklungsländern (Since 2010)

N-AERUS - Network Association of European Researchers on Urbanization (Since 2008)