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Publications in VIVO

Samper, Jota

Assistant Professor


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Jota Samper is an architect and planner who has taught architecture, urban design, and planning. His work on Informal Settlements Research (ISR) focuses on sustainable urban growth and the intersection of urban informality ('slums') and violent urban conflict. The main goal of ISR is to create innovative urban tools that visualize the challenges (climate, regulatory, and violence) presented in informal landscapes. He co-founded Mobility/Movilidad, a nonprofit dedicated to video archiving, mapping, and developing infrastructure with marginalized communities. He also co-directs the Community Engagement, Design, and Research Center (CEDaR). Born and raised in Medellín, he obtained his BA in architecture from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, a master’s in city planning, and a Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he also worked as a lecturer. His project 'Living rooms at the Border,' with estudio teddy cruz, was exhibited at MoMA. He collaborates with colleagues from Oxford University on 'The Changing Character of Conflict Platform.' Samper's 'Atlas of Informality' work has been presented to an audience of over 1.6 million in a TEDx talk.


  • Urban design, architecture, planning, informal settlements, urban conflict, mapping, urban growth, study abroad


selected publications


courses taught

  • ENVD 1020 - Studio 1: Introduction to Architecture
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2023
    The second of four introductory studios introduces students to strategies and techniques of architectural design and communication in a hands-on studio environment. Students design a small-scale architectural project that responds to environmental, contextual and programmatic needs while developing the necessary skills for iterative design processes.
  • ENVD 1040 - Studio 1: Introduction to Planning and Urban Design
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Spring 2021 / Spring 2022
    The fourth of four introductory studios in which students learn concepts and strategies related to urban planning and design. Students collaboratively develop a design solution to a small-scale problem within an urban fabric using basic skills of analysis and design iteration.
  • ENVD 1104 - Introduction to Environmental Design Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Summer 2018
    Explores the forces and conditions that interact to shape the designed environment. It does so through a lecture sequence and parallel set of design exercises introducing students to the theory and practice of environmental design. It develops student understandings of the central role design thinking plays as the unique process used to effect appropriate change in the designed environment. Recommended corequisites: ENVD 1102 and ENVD 2003.
  • ENVD 1140 - Studio 2: Fundamentals of Planning and Urban Design
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2021 / Fall 2022 / Fall 2023
    Through a small-scale urban planning and design project, students explore solutions to challenges in dynamic urban systems. Builds on knowledge and skills gained in the introductory studios to explore the human and environmental dimensions of intertwined systems within the built environment.
  • ENVD 2014 - Special Topics: Theory, History and Historiography of Environmental Design for no
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2023
    Addresses variable topics in theory and criticism, history and historiography of environmental design.
  • ENVD 3009 - Special Topics in Environmental Design
    Primary Instructor - Summer 2018 / Summer 2019 / Summer 2021 / Summer 2022 / Summer 2023
    Provides a seminar or design lab on special issues in environmental design, including study abroad. May be repeated up to 18 total credit hours. Variable topic class. Recommended prerequisites: ENVD 1004 and ENVD 1052.
  • ENVD 3100 - Environmental Design Studio 3
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Exposes students to a sequence of design investigations that lead to the development of design concepts for critical evaluation and discussion. The intent of this introductory design studio is to expose students to the fundamental design practices that are common to the disciplines of environmental design, planning, urban design and landscape design - that share the responsibility fro shaping the designed environment. Recommended corequisite: ENVD 3122.
  • ENVD 3144 - History and Theory of ENVD: Systems
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018
    Provides an introduction to the history of urban planning and design practices and processes. Examines the history of city-building using examples drawn from the United States as well as other countries. Emphasis is on developing analytical methods and a critical approach in discussing and evaluating historical and contemporary planning issues, mechanisms and cases.
  • ENVD 4322 - Special Topics: Graphics
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Fall 2020
    Provides an advanced seminar on special issues in design communications. May be repeated for credit by petition.
  • ENVD 4919 - Teaching Assistant
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    By special arrangement with instructor. May be repeated up to 99 total credit hours. Recommended prerequisite: 3.00 GPA.
  • ENVD 4972 - Honors Research Methods and Thesis Preparation
    Secondary Instructor - Fall 2021
    To prepare students for undertaking an independent research or design project in Environmental Design, this asks students to engage with existing literature in the field. Students will understand how research and design projects are conducted, and how their own work fits within a long tradition of scholarship. Department consent required.
  • ENVD 4979 - Honors Thesis
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2023 / Spring 2024
    Working with an advisor, students prepare, complete, and defend an honors thesis project, either written or creative.
  • ENVD 5346 - Spec Topics: Environmental Design
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Spring 2019 / Fall 2020 / Fall 2021
  • PLAN 2004 - History and Theory of Sustainable Planning and Design
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2022 / Spring 2023 / Spring 2024
    Surveys the key thinkers and important theories that shape sustainable planning and design. Covers the evolution of city form, policy approaches, and various philosophies of planning. Recommended prerequisite: PLAN 2100.
  • PLAN 2100 - Studio 1: Foundations of Planning and Urban Design
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 / Fall 2020 / Spring 2021
    Expands on introductory planning and urban design concepts and methods to address social and ecological challenges in communities. Explores skills including spatial analysis, basic community engagement techniques and policy alternatives. The resultant project addresses challenges at the intersection between social and environmental systems. Recommended corequisite: PLAN 2004.


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