Gabriela Quintana Vigiola is an academic and private consultant in the urban design and planning sectors.
Her academic research ranges from urban design to cultural and psychosocial studies. She focuses on current issues such as informal settlements and informal housing; place-making; participatory design methodology; master-planning; urban design developments; spirituality, culture and urban spaces; urban morphology; and urban design and planning history and theory.
She recently finalised her PhD thesis about placemaking through culture, focusing on the construction of place in Venezuelan slums' urban space through catholic procession as a cultural construct. Currently, she is developing a research about informal housing conditions in Sydney.
She joined UTS in 2012 and lectures in urban planning at the School of the Built Environment. After graduating from Central University of Venezuela (Universidad Central de Venezuela), she worked for three years as an Assistant Professor at the Simon Bolivar University (Universidad Simon Bolivar) in Caracas, Venezuela.
- Invited to participate as a guest speaker in the Seminar Series hosted by the Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge, January 2016. Topic: Planning and Designing with qualitative methods.(http://www.landecon.cam.ac.uk/events/seminars-2015-2016/seminar-9-qualitative-methods-in-urban-planning-and-design)
- Invited to give a guest lecture about Qualitative research and practice in Bartlett School of Planning, University College London (UCL), January 2016
- Invited to give a guest lecture about Planning and Designing with qualitative methods in Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), January 2016
- Acted as chair of the "Urbanisation and Preservation" session in the 3rd Annual International Conference on Urban Studies & Planning, 2013, in Athens, Greece
- Invited to co-chair the "Urban Cultures, Heritage and Urban Design" track in the Third World Planning Schools Congress, 2011, in Perth.
Can supervise: YES
- Informal settlements
- Culture and Urban Space / morphology
- Religiosity and the built environment
- Participatory Design practice and methodology
- Social sustainability
- Urban morphology theory and history
- Urban balance
- Master and structure plans development
- Planning Theory and Decision Making
- Participatory Planning and Design
- Urban Design
- Research seminars
Quintana Vigiola, G 2012, 'Barreras Psicologicas. La politica reflejada en el espacio público (Psychological Barriers. Politics reflected on the public space)', Argos, vol. 29, no. 57, pp. 150-179.
The aim of this qualitative research (conducted with students Angélica Peñalver, Marilyn Rodríguez and Julimar Rodríguez, from the School of Psychology at the Universidad Central de Venezuela) was to assess what we define as psychological barriers vis-à-vis Caracas public spaces. We interviewed a small sample of inhabitants considering their different political tendencies. The results showed that politics doesnt create psychological limits when accessing into a public space. Other factors as insecurity and cleanliness are the ones that show themselves as barriers
Quintana Vigiola, G 2011, 'Carlos Raúl Villanueva', Planning Perspectives, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 337-338.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'The 'homo religious' and the inhabitants of self-built areas [trans]', Revista Encrucijadas: Dialogos y Perspectivas, vol. -, no. 4, pp. 36-58.
The present article appears as a reflexive approximation with regard to the topic of the existing relation between the origin of the homo religious and its hierofania and the different manifestations of the sacred on the art of the inhabitants of the slums. This is elaborated across the structured exhibition of the origin of the homo religious; its symbols, rites and paths; the slum as a space of religious manifestation; the relation of the previous elements and the final reflection.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2015, 'Urban morphology and cultural expressions: Qualitative methods to understand the city's dynamic in a self-built area in Caracas, Venezuela' in Silva, EA, Healey, P, Harris, N & Broeck, PVD (eds), The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods, Routledge, New York and Oxon, pp. 202-212.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2017, 'Understanding the boundaries and inclusiveness of urban spaces of Caracas’ barrios through territorial transferral process', Making Cities Liveable Conference 2017 Book of Proceedings, Making Cities Liveable Conference, Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., Brisbane, Australia, pp. 107-125.
When delving into community dynamics and people’s relationship with urban spaces in Caracas’ barrios, several questions arise regarding the nature and use of public and private spaces. How are the private and public defined in barrios? Who owns the urban (public) space? Do public spaces really belong to everyone?
The aim of this paper is to present the concept of territorial transferral process (TTP) and its link to the community-urban space relationship. This concept arose as an outcome of my research about place-making. Through interpreting the underlying processes of the activities in the urban space of barrios, it became evident how TTP deeply affects the use and construction of the meaning that people give to the urban space, also impacting the inclusiveness of public spaces.
By applying a qualitative approach to understand the participants’ perspectives on the interaction between the barrio community and their urban space, this research showed that the conception, appropriation and use of urban spaces are flexible.These depend on experiences, activities and social relationships. Also, through this research the concept of TTP and its two components, emotional and boundary transferral arose, explaining the complex tangible (physical and use) and intangible (psychological) boundaries that barrios’ urban space embeds.
Quintana Vigiola, GM 2015, 'Cultural and Community Programs to Prevent the Increase of Criminality in Caracas' Barrios', Safe Cities Conference 2015 Book of Proceedings, Safe Cities Conference, Association for Sustainability in Business Inc., Melbourne, pp. 19-41.
Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, is among the five most dangerous cities in the world. In a city where kidnappings, murders and criminal gangs’ shootouts are a huge part of people’s everyday life, finding innovative strategies to prevent criminality rates from rising even further becomes an important matter to address. In this vein, and acknowledging that broader scope policies to decrease crime are needed and should be developed and implemented by the government, this paper focused on small-scale actions to tackle this significant urban problem.
Criminality affects all the different areas of the city; however, a large part of it is generated in barrios. Most criminal gangs operate from barrios, being their members a small portion of its population. Moreover, gang members are most often barrio residents and the majority of gang members are usually teenagers and young adults that are part of the local barrio community. However, fear has made most community members to isolate these thugs. In parallel to this, the segregated teens claim community spaces to themselves, preventing residents to use them.
A qualitative approach was used to understand the participants’ perspectives on the interaction between religiosity - as a cultural construct - and the barrios’ urban space. From this, and understanding of an informal, socially constructed crime prevention strategy applied by the community was identified. The research discovered that gang members highly respect shared cultural events, such as catholic processions. During these events there are no criminal activities in the barrio because the gang members are usually involved in the religious activities. By understanding and acknowledging the impact of such cultural events and using them to strategically integrate the youth members of the gangs as part of the community during these events, the urban spaces where these cultural events change from belonging only to the thugs, at that moment belonging to the whole commun...
Quintana Vigiola, GM 2015, 'Overcoming Urban Challenges through Culture and Social Sustainability in Caracas’ Barrios', Book of Proceedings, ICSAUD 2015 : 17th International Conference on Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design, Barcelona, Spain, pp. 1725-1734.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2013, 'Experiences in Participatory Design Processes: Assessing the Headland Park Design', ATINER's Conference Paper Series PLA2013-0850, Third Annual International conference on Urban Studies & Planning, Athens Institute for Education and Research, Athens, Greece, pp. 1-14.
Participatory Design (PD) is a technique applied in Urban Design and Planning to engage stakeholders at any of the different phases of the development of projects. This aims to get an understanding of their opinions, as well as knowing prospective users expectations and perspectives on the issue. The target with this approach is to design strategies and guidelines, and /or to evaluate a proposal. This process involves a strict methodology, a specific workshop design, a thorough application and a detailed final report. In the present paper we aim to expose our involvement as researchers and consultants experienced through all the stages of the Participatory Design process of the assessment of the Headland Park of the Barangaroo Project that is being developed in Sydney, Australia. The methodological approach is action research, which allows the study to take place along the ongoing participatory process, enabling the researchers to evaluate and re-shape the course of action. Headland Park is a waterfront open space proposed to be used by both locals and tourists in a day to day basis and on special events, thus any kind of situations can occur, including ones involving criminal behaviour. In order to evaluate the aforementioned a participatory design workshop with experts on park management and criminality was created to assess the parks design and to elaborate management guidelines. The staging of the methodology, the design of the workshop, its application and the final report, involved a challenging back and forth process that goes beyond any methodological structure, which comprises a series of group meetings, continuous evaluation and self-evaluation, piloting, improving, writing and re-writing; all of this enhancing our experiences as researchers and consultants.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2012, 'Religiosity as a cultural manifestation in the urban space: gaining back public spaces appropriated by criminal violence', Abstracts and Proceedings of the 1st Design + Crime International Conference, Design + Crime Conference, DOC Documents, Sydney, Australia, pp. 27-27.
Caracas, Venezuela's capital city is ranked among the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world, with one of the highest murder rates in the planet. Safety is an issue that Venezuelans have to deal with on an everyday basis, affecting all aspects of their urban living, including the cultural manifestations that occur in the urban environment. Among those cultural manifestations are the religious processions, with around 96% of its people self-identifying as Catholic. In addition to the aforementioned, Caracas is a city where half its citizens live in self built houses. These houses make up areas, called 'barrios', that occupy almost 50% of the city's territory. These barrios mainly house low-income sectors of the population, creating different social issues such as the development of gangs, which increases criminality rates and prevents an even access to inhabitants to different activities and the enjoyment of public spaces. However, through religious processions all throughout the year, especially at Easter, those public spaces in barrios are gained back by the community. The research approach is framed within the social - constructionist paradigm, bringing together qualitative data collection methods, such as participant observation, interviews, photographs and videos.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2012, 'Displacement within residential areas: religious processions as a means to recuperate spaces', Place & Displacement Conference, Melbourne, Australia.
Place & Displacement Conference held by Community, Identity, Displacement Research Network (CIDRN)
Quintana Vigiola, G 2011, 'Rethinking the competencies of Urban Planners; rethinking the Undergraduate Program of Urban Planning's curriculum at the Universidad Simon Bolivar (USB).', World Planning Schools Congress, World Planning Schools Congress 2011, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, pp. 1-11.
Since 2007, when the Ministry of the Popular Power of University Education (MPPEU) was created, there have been advances regarding the education provided in Universities, their structure, their scope and especially the educational model. Among the modifications that have raised, the revision of undergraduate courses' curricula is part of a new approach to education, from the traditional view of imparting knowledge, to enable students to develop competencies for professional performance; understanding competencies as "a set of behaviours usually learned through experience that are instrumental in achieving organizational outcomes (Curriculum Design by Competencies. Dean of Professional Studies. Simon Bolivar University, May 2010). In this sense, since mid 2010, all Undergraduate Programs in the USB, among them the Undergraduate Program of Urban Planning, have initiated a review process of the of the expected profiles in its graduates, their general and specific skills and how the aforementioned is achieved through the training process. The revision of the Urban Planner's competencies was initiated through a primary consultation to 33 people, including professors, alumni and students. A first result has allowed the detection of five macro skills, which in turn are subdivided into specific skills. These macro functions are to: (1) Identify and analyze urban situations; (2) Synthesize and built critical and ethical positions to the realities that study; (3) Propose solutions to urban issues; (4) Convey their studies and proposals; and (5) Manage the implementation of the proposals building its viability. From the above, the steps that are been taken at this time is the contrast among the competencies exposed before and the subjects' syllabi of the current curriculum. It is expected to redefine the approach and the courses' content based on the competencies expected to develop into a wider consultation process that includes the views of employers.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2011, 'Urban Space Morphology and Popular Catholicism: the interaction between two cultural expressions', World Planning Schools Congress, III World Planning Schools Congress 2011, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.
Caracas is a city where half its citizens live in self built houses. These houses make up areas that occupy almost 50% of the city's territory. These houses are the initiatives of those who inhabit them and it is a phenonomen of the 20th century, which saw an increasing oil boom that peaked in the 1960s in Venezuela. Venezuela is a very religious country, with 96% of its people self identifying as Catholic. As part of the practices of Catholicism one of the most important religious manifestations are processions. Processions of the Holy Week are the most important in meaning for the people who participate in them. Both the creation of the self built areas, with their unique morphology and the popular Catholicism are cultural expressions that interact to become one entity with specific meanings when the procession is taking place. The aim of this research was to explore how a sense of place is constructed within this urban-psychosocial process, that is the interpenetration of procession and this specific morphology. In this presentation I outline our research approach that brought together qualitative methods using participant observation, interviews and videos with urban morphological analysis. This combination of research methods is presented as cutting edge work, because it connects three aspects that the discipline of urban design should always consider when enacting proposals, that is, urban morphology, religiosity and the sense of place. The research also contributes to qualitative research approaches by combining urban analysis and ethnographic methods. For the development of this research we took under consideration the classic approaches of Krier (1981) and Kostof (1992), combined with the perspectives of Marcano (1994), Borja and Muxí (2001), and Guitián (2007). Regarding the theme of religiosity Mandianes (1989) and Maldonado (1989, 2004) are the ground authors.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2010, 'Meaning of sacred places [self translation]', X Congreso de Psicología de la Liberación, Universidad Central de Venezuela - Universidad Catolica Andres Bello, Caracas, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'Catholicism as every-day life of the inhabitants of Petare [self translation].', X Jornadas de Investigación Humanística y Educativa, Caracas, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'Catholicism as every-day life of the inhabitants of Petare [self translation].', X Jornadas de Investigación Humanística y Educativa, Facultad de Humanidades y Educacion - UCV, Caracas, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'Popular Religiosity: Cultural Fact in Urban Design - Case of study Urban Special Plan UDA 10 La Adobera, Valencia, Venezuela [self translation].', Congreso Internacional Ciudades Latinoamericanas - La utopía intelectual en una geografía inestable, Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'The street, the intersection and the basketball court, cultural exchange spaces: religiosity in Petare, Caracas [self translation].', IV Seminario - Taller sobre Espacios Públicos y Ciudades Intermedias, Universidad de Los Andes, Merida, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2009, 'The street, the intersection and the basketball court, cultural exchange spaces: religiosity in Petare, Caracas [self translation].', Merida, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2008, 'Plan Especial Urbano: La Carlota', II Congreso Interamericano de Arquitectura., Merida, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2008, 'Polygons: a space for urban equilibrium in the city [self translation]', Semana Internacional de Investigación 2008, Semana Internacional de Investigación 2008, Facultad de Arquitectura y Urbanismo, UCV, Caracas, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2008, 'Polygons: a space for urban equilibrium in the city [self translation]', Semana Internacional de Investigación 2008, Caracas, Venezuela.
Quintana Vigiola, G 2018, 'Place-making through culture: The role of religiosity as a cultural phenomenon in the construction of place in Caracas’ barrios'.
In this dissertation I present a story about place-making through culture, specifically about the construction of place in Caracas’ barrios through Catholic processions. From a trans-disciplinary perspective, I approach the themes of urban space, meaning as a psychosocial construct, and religiosity as culture. This thesis contributes to the understanding of the underlying complexities of turning spaces into places through studying the built form, the activities in and uses of the urban space, and the meanings associated with it.
The main research question that guides this study is: What is the role of culture (using religiosity as a lens) in the construction of place in Caracas’ barrios? To answer this question, I chose a qualitative approach and a case-study design. Using qualitative thematic analysis, I explore from the participants’ perspectives their interpretations about the construction of place though culture.
The research shows that cultural manifestations in the urban space are not only a way for people to express their culture. They are also a way for people to reclaim their spaces, build relational places, redefine the flexible private-public boundary, and reshape meaning. This study also revealed the different power relationships in barrios, and how institutions impact on the construction of place in barrios.