Spaces and Flows International Award for Excellence

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies offers an annual award for newly published research or thinking that has been recognized to be outstanding by members of the Spaces and Flows Research Network.

Award Winner for Volume 8

Mapping Urban Interfaces: A Typology of Public/Private Interfaces in Informal Settlements

Urban interfaces play a key role in enabling the different forms of social and economic exchange and the ways in which open space is contested and appropriated in informal settlements. Many upgrading practices involve a transformation of public/private interfaces. The transition between public and private territories is one of the critical issues in planning, urban design, and architecture that has the capacity to enable or constrain exchange and production. This paper develops a typology for analysing and mapping public/private interfaces in informal settlements. Drawing on the evidence from multiple case studies of informal settlements in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America, a typology of six interface types is introduced based on the criteria of proximity and connectivity. The study is informed by direct observation, visual recordings, and urban mapping to shed light on the ways in which urban interfaces work in informal settlements.


The relation between public and private territories is of critical importance in planning, urban design and architecture discourse. Public/Private urban interfaces have the capacity to enable or constrain appropriation, exchange and production. Many practices of upgrading informal settlements involve a transformation of public/private interfaces. While such urban interfaces play a key role in enabling different forms of social and economic exchange in informal settlements, their dynamics have remained underexplored.

This paper develops a typology for analysing and mapping public/private interfaces in informal settlements. Drawing on multiple case studies of informal settlements in Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America, a typology of six interface types is introduced based on the criteria of proximity and connectivity to public space. This study is informed by direct observation, visual recordings and urban mapping to shed light on the ways in which urban interfaces work in informal settlements.

This is a part of a research focused on the challenge of understanding the morphologies and incremental transformations of informal settlements in a global context by exploring multiple case studies of informal settlements and upgrading processes in Southeast Asia, South Asia and South America. The author held IPRS and APA scholarships for undertaking this research at the University of Melbourne and received funding from the Melbourne Social Equity Institute for this publication. The author wishes to thank Professor Kim Dovey for his endless support and the anonymous reviewers for their time, incisive critique, encouragements and helpful suggestions.

Hesam Kamalipour is a Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning at the School of Geography and Planning, Cardiff University. He has previously served as Research Fellow at Monash University, Research Assistant and Guest Lecturer at the University of Melbourne and Doctoral Academy member at Melbourne Social Equity Institute. His current research interests include informal urbanism, forms of urban informality and adaptation, typology, urban morphology and morphogenesis, tactical and temporary urbanism, public space and street life, place identity and urban mapping.

Hesam Kamalipour

Past Award Winners

Volume 7

Bangkok—A Place of Struggle and Spatial Restructuring

Annette Jacoby, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.49–55


Volume 6

Community Environment Education Centers: Facilitating Community Created Ecoscapes

Erwin Weber and Adrienne Weber. 2015. Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.1–22


Volume 5

Studying the Level of Integration of Singapore as an Asian-Pacific Global City

Mohammad Ali Behbahani, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.7–22


Volume 4

Redefining the UGB: Melbourne's Urban Growth Boundary and the Potential of the Threshold

Vanessa Mooney, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp.37–45


Volume 3

The End of Architecture? Networked Communities, Urban Transformation and Post-capitalist Landscapes

Nick Dunn, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.67–75


Volume 2

Urban Agriculture: Symbiotic Transformations of Cities and Food Systems

Rebecca Katkin, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.61–70


Volume 1

Infrastructural Urbanism: Ecologies and Technologies of Multi-layered Landscapes

Nick Dunn, Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.87–96