Gabriela Rendón is an architect and urban planner committed to social and spatial justice. After working as an architect for over five years in unevenly developed post industrial cities along the North Mexican border, Rendón moved to the Netherlands to pursue graduate and doctoral urban studies. At the onset of the world wide financial crisis she co-founded Cohabitation Strategies, a non-profit organization for socio-spatial research, design, and development in the City of Rotterdam. Since then, Rendón has been involved in a number of action-research and urban projects across numerous cities. After moving to New York City, her research and practice have been inspired by the militant citizens, grassroots groups, and community based organizations that are actively involved in the production of more equitable and inclusive neighborhoods. “New York City provides scholars and students lessons about the ultimate outcomes of profit-driven development but at the same time it inspires us, with its multitude of activists working on a daily basis to create a just city, to envision new urban paradigms”.
Rendón’s architectural and design practice along the North Mexican border region was highly influenced by the social and spatial dynamics on both sides of the border, the developing and the developed one. “My first urban instruction was merely experiential. Working across the continuous urbanization of Tijuana/San Diego, divided by the border wall, was my inspiration to get involved in the urban practice”. Driven by the uneven development and the socioeconomic contrasts of the territory, Rendón decided to carry on graduate urban studies at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, sponsored by the Mexican government and the European Union.
In the Netherlands, Rendón co-founded Cohabitation Strategies and began working mostly in marginal spaces while creating a hybrid urban practice combining action-research, planning, design, cultural production, art, and activism. Cohabitation Strategies has been involved in projects of diverse scales and complexities commissioned by art, cultural, and academic institutions, as well as municipalities and government agencies in diverse countries, including the Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany, Venezuela, Ecuador, Canada, and the United States. Rendón’s work has been exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD), the 4th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam, the Istanbul Design Biennial 2012, the Vienna Biennale 2015, the Portugal Triennial 2016, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
Gabriela Rendón is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Parsons School of Design. “What I love about teaching and being part of the Parsons graduate urban programs is the way theories of [urban practice] and design approaches to urbanism are considered and reinvented to tackle today’s challenges. Also, the fact that students don’t simply use New York City as an object of study, but instead, partner with its communities, agencies, and experts”.
Rendón’s current research, Cities for or against Citizens? State-led Sociospatial Restructuring in Low-Income Neighborhoods and the Paradox of Citizen Participation, centers on the politics, practices, and constraints of socio-spatial restructuring through citizen participation in low-income districts in America and Western Europe. She is particularly interested in neighborhood decline and restructuring processes, as well as collective and non-speculative housing models providing equitable development in profit-driven urban environments. She is the author and co-editor of a number of publications, including: Social Property and the Need for a New Urban Practice (book chapter, Taylor & Francis) Cohabitation Strategies: Socio-Spatial Approaches, Practices and Pedagogies with a Dialectical Perspective (book chapter, Routledge), and Cooperative Cities (book co-editor, Journal of Design Strategies).