Silvano De la Llata, PhD

Assistant Professor, Geography, Planning and Environment

Silvano De la Llata, PhD
Figure 1. Teaching at the Urban Planning Studio
Source: Silvano De la Llata


Silvano De la Llata is an urbanist and an educator. He is an assistant professor in urban planning and design in the department of Geography Planning & Environment at Concordia University. He received his PhD in City and Regional Planning from Cornell University (2014). He has taught design/planning studios and seminars on urban sociology, public space and history at Cornell University and universities of Tamaulipas and Anahuac (Mexico).
For the last 15 years, his research has focused on public space and the study of alternative uses, such as street vending, graffiti, public assembly and protest, as design/planning agents. His dissertation explores alternative planning processes in the context of protest encampments in horizontal social movements. He did research and participated in the
Indignados mobilizations in Barcelona, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements in 2011 and 2012.
Building on this experience, he directs the project Cities X Citizens, which focuses on the democratization of planning and urban design through participatory design methodologies and open-source systems. Bridging research, pedagogy and design practice, he developed urban design methodologies, open planning and planning-in-situ, to redesign interstitial spaces in Montreal through collaborative community engagement.

Additionally, he coordinates brainstorming/reading circles on critical theory and philosophy to develop strategies to democratize everyday life in the city.

Teaching activities

URBS 490 - Public Space and The Public Interest (Since 2016)

Public space is also the physical manifestation of the publicinterest, and therefore is also the manifestation of conflict. However, publicspace and the public sphere is also the realm to debate about and solve thoseconflicts. This seminar explores how the notion of the public and public spaceplays a key role in the construction of democratic societies. It broadlyexplores the socioeconomic, cultural, political and physical dimensions ofpublic space. It particularly focuses on the tensions between how space isproduced and how it is (re)appropriated and (re)produced by its citizens, withthe objective of drawing lessons to enable a more democratic, inclusive andjust city-making. Drawing form theory, history and case studies, thisseminar analyzes how public spaces are planned and how different subjectivitiesemerged from those spaces, as well as how these subjectivities transform andreinvent themselves to change the spaces they inhabit. The notions of exclusionand inclusion, gender/race/age/class equity, gentrification and privatizationof public space, problems and potential of social networks, protest and theright to the city, as well as place-making and community planning would bewidely explored.

URBS333 - Urban Laboratory (Since 2015)

Urban space shapes people. The material and physical configuration of space enables certain activities and interactions while it contains and discourages others. However, people can also reshape and (re)appropriate their own space. City-making – be it urban planning/design, space regulation, urban development, social interaction, community engagement, etc. – plays out in a tension between these two approaches. Some spatial conditions allow better for people to engage in its transformation, others virtually prevent it. A key challenge in urban planning/design is to (re)create the conditions for urban transformation in spaces that are socially and physically detached from the urban fabric. 

This course focuses on exploring urban planning/design strategies and tactics to (1) create vibrant, open and healthy public spaces, (2) to engage citizens in the creation of these spaces, and (3) to ultimately breach the disciplinary and conceptual divide between the human and the built environment in the city. This course has historically worked on real-life and site-specific problems in Montreal. Therefore, there is a close collaboration with the City of Montreal and its various borough governments. Urban Laboratory has a strong focus in the planning of public spaces. In this edition of the course, the challenge will focus on the issue of mobility, accessibility and shared spaces in Montreal. The case study has been selected in collaboration with the City of Montreal, Concordia’s City Studio and the instructor. The students will participate in planning events such as community meetings, design charrettes, presentations to city officials and planning experiments. This provides hands-on practice in planning as well as networking opportunities for the students in the professional, academic and governmental sectors.



URBS300 - Neighbourhood and Community Planning (Since 2017)

This course focuses on the study of the history, theories, approaches and methods of community and neighbourhood planning. It particularly focuses on the relationship between the built environment and human interaction in the creation of communities. The course looks at community planning and engagement broadly. That is to say, it does not only focuses on normative and institutional planning, but in any process that ultimately shapes the city. Therefore, it goes beyond planning to explore the notion of citymaking. More particularly, it focuses on understanding the agency of ordinary citizens in citymaking and community building processes.


Urban Resistance: Alternative Interpretations of Public Space (English/revised version) (2014) in Viladevall & Castrillo (2010), Espacio Publico en la Ciudad Contemporanea, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, España.

Abstract Drawing from a historical analysis of informal uses of urban space in Mexico, this chapter analyzes uses and interpretations of public spaces that clash with their planning and design programs. It particularly explores the notion of urban resistance, understood as alternative readings of space that contest urban regulations and spatial programs and, as practices that remain in spite of historical and cultural transformations. The chapter concludes by reinterpreting a modernist esplanade in a hospital and by providing design proposals that incorporate amenities and an informal market to an otherwise precarious space.

Protest Encampments as Urban Laboratories: The 15M Barcelona Encampment: A Space of Resistance and Creativity (2014) in Progressive Planning, Planner's Network, New York, NY.

Abstract The protest encampments of 2011 operated as spaces of resistance-through-creativity.Without an apparent overarching structure, the protesters engaged in different forms of interaction, encounter and organization. The spontaneous processes used to organize the physical space of the encampments provided lessons for the democratization of planning and city-making processes. Rather than in what was done in the encampments, the true lessons are more in how things were done –through mechanics that allowed potentially anyone from within or without the movement to actively participate in its development. To explore these ideas,this article makes a brief account of the case of the Barcelona Encampment in Plaza Catalunya in the Spring of 2011.

Open-ended urbanisms: Space-making processes in the protest encampment of the Indignados movement in Barcelona (2015) in URBAN DESIGN International

Abstract This paper studies the spontaneous and organic processes involved in the physical planning of protest encampments. Drawing from ethnographic work in the context of the Indignados Movement in Barcelona,it analyzes the spatial evolution and transformation of the Plaza Catalunya encampment in 2011. The encampments evolved in parallel to the conversations and questions that originated them online and offline. Thus, it particularly examines the notions of open planning (i.e. open-source and open-ended decision-making processes) and urban laboratories that the fieldwork indicates were tested in the space of the encampment. The objective is to understand how urban space can be planned through non-hierarchical space-making processes and without a homogeneous overarching structure. This paper situates in a larger discussion about alternative space-making processes such as insurgent, tactical planning,as well as in the recent conversations about open-source cities. 

Keywords: public space, insurgent planning, protest encampments, social movements, open-source cities; urban design

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