José Rafael Núñez Collado

(Re)constructing the Informal City. Urban narratives from Santo Domingo Slums.

My research critically investigates five centuries of urban ‘informality’ and marginalization in Santo Domingo, the oldest city in the New World. Urban historiography and ethnographical methods are used. On one hand, the research (Re)constructs the history of these marginalized urban territories by exposing their evolution, struggles and contributions to place making. On the other hand, the research evaluates the effects of recent and large-scale slum upgrading interventions in the city.

This thesis is relevant in the context of contemporary urban discourses about rapid urbanization and urban inequality in the developing world. Furthermore, as architecture and urbanism are used to propel the reforms and transformations of ‘informal’ settlements, evaluating the effects of recent large-scale slum upgrading will allow the construction of a situated account on approaches that work, how they work, and for whom they work; and to expose those that need to be rethought or reframed.


Prof. Regan Potangaroa and Prof. Joanna Merwood-Salisbury

Peer-reviewed publications

Journal articles

Núñez Collado, J.R. “Santo Domingo: City profile of the Caribbean’s metropolis”. Cities 2019, 94(November), 235–246.

Núñez Collado, J.R.; Wang, H.-H.; Tsai, T.-Y. “Urban informality in the Paris Climate Agreement: Content analysis of the Nationally Determined Contributions of highly urbanized developing countries”. Sustainability 2019, 11, 5228.

Núñez Collado, J.R.; Wang, H.-H. “Slum upgrading and climate change adaptation and mitigation: Lessons from Latin America”. Cities 2020, 104(September), 102791.

Conference papers

Núñez Collado, J.R.; Potangaroa, R. “Modernist housing estate ‘revival’; a paradigm to upgrade
Latin America’s slums?”. Beyond2020 World Sustainability Built Environment Conference, 2-4 November 2020. Forthcoming in IOP proceedings Earth and Environmental Science Journal