News / Research and Publications

New article on informal settlements co-authored by Dr Dorina Pojani

‘Urban acupuncture’ to alleviate stress in informal settlements in Mexico


  • Alejandro Lastra
  • Dorina Pojani

Abstract. This paper explores whether smaller-scale physical space interventions (‘urban acupuncture’) have the power to alleviate the stress, social pathologies and political disengagement experienced by the residents of informal settlements. The case study is Tepito, a barrio in Mexico City. The results, based on 20 qualitative interviews with local residents, support the idea that an ‘urban acupuncture’ approach has a high potential in this respect. In view of these findings, the authors argue that an indirect approach, focused on physical space, might, at least in the short term, be more productive in empowering of informal settlement dwellers than direct efforts at political organization. Physical, economic and political spaces are intrinsically linked. Little political engagement can be expected if people live in poor physical environments. While certainly not a panacea, acupunctural interventions might trigger much broader changes than initially intended.

Download the full paper from the Journal of Urban Design page.