Susana Restrepo Rico

Susana Restrepo Rico

Susana is a Colombian architect and urban planner with an M.Sc. degree in Urban Agglomerations from the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt am Main. At the moment she is a DAAD scholarship holder for doctoral studies and a member of the URBANgrad programme at the Technical University of Darmstadt where she has been developing her doctoral research in comprehensive upgrading programmes in Latin America since October 2012, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. –Ing. Annette Rudolph-Cleff and Prof. Dr. –Ing Michael Peterek. Besides her doctoral research, she works as a research assistant at the University of Applied Sciences providing master thesis tutorials for the students of the M.Sc. Urban Agglomerations program. Professionally, Susana has worked in Medellín, Colombia as an architect and urban designer in massive social housing projects developed by the private sector.

PhD Project

Comprehensive Urban Upgrading in Latin America: The Importance of Participatory Practices in Sustainable Upgrading Projects

Low-income settlements represent a hidden side of our societies. Strategies devised in the past three decades have concentrated municipal efforts towards physical improvement and economic growth, exposing the lack of understanding about the real needs of the urban poor, along with the reluctance of municipal authorities to engage in holistic upgrading programmes. Municipal agencies as designers, developers and owner of projects all have responsibilities for the success of upgrading projects. As the agencies finish projects and retire from the area, the outcomes of upgrading belong to the state. However, in countries stricken by financial deficits and social conflicts, the presence of the state in low-income areas is minimal, and maintenance of outcomes becomes a burden for governments. The research has a qualitative applied research approach based on the hypothesis that implementing participatory practices in upgrading programmes would result in more sustainable upgrading projects. For example, responsibilities for implementation and maintenance could be delegated to civil or private institutions while participatory decision-making and consensus building would provide a more accurate perspective of the conditions of the neighbourhood and a long-term vision for development. Likewise, appropriate diagnostics and prioritisation of problems by local communities and agencies, as well as public-private partnerships for implementation and maintenance could enhance the scope and effectiveness of upgrading projects while building community and institutional capacities for transferring knowledge among communities and institutions on a city-wide scale.

University Studies and Degrees

10.2012 – present Doctoral Candidate – URBANgrad ProgrammeTechnische Universität Darmstadt – Darmstadt, Germany
10.2008 – 07..2010 Master of Science – Urban Agglomerations International ProgrammeUniversity of Applied Sciences Frankfurt am Main – Frankfurt am Main, Germany
02.2003 – 03.2008 Architecture DiplomaNational University of Colombia – Medellín, Colombia

Professional Experiences

04.2013 – present Research Assistant – Master thesis tutorialsUniversity of Applied Sciences Frankfurt am Main – Frankfurt am Main
10.2010 – 05.2012 Urban Designer Arquitierra S.A.S – Medellín, Colombia
02.2010 – 05.2010 Internship – Research AssistantCurtin University Sustainability Policy Institute – Fremantle, Australia
03.2008 – 09.2008 ArchitectArquitierra S.A.S – Medellín, Colombia
06.2007 – 11.2007 Internship – Assistant to the Construction DirectorMetroplus S.A. – Medellín, Colombia

Scholarships and Awards

06.2012 – present Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) – Doctoral Studies Scholarship
2013 Ibero-American Award for Research Thesis in Housing INFONAVIT-RedalycWinner of Applied research CategoryMexico City, Mexico


Book: “Mejoramiento Sostenible de Asentamientos Informales en Países en Desarrollo. Brasil, Indonesia y Tailandia”/ Restrepo Rico, Susana – México : Infonavit : UAEMex, Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociales, 2013