sidewalk laboratory

public engagement

NOTE:  SLAB has moved to USC.  You can see our latest public engagement here.

SLAB’s intent is to dialogue. We look for ways to engage with the public(s).

Besides publishing research, our work also involves finding other ways to communicate in order to more directly participate in the active reconstruction of how we see and understand sidewalk space. The desire to reach across arenas and cultures underlies SLAB’s visual strategies. These have included public exhibits and presentations and proposals to city government departments as well as scholarly audiences.


mit rotch library gallery exhibit

May-September 2010






presentations and proposals to ho chi minh city

January and December 2010

mit wolk gallery exhibit

September 3-November 15, 2013

ho chi minh city public exhibit

January 4-13, 2014

recent lectures

“The Underground City: Preliminary Findings about Beijing’s Bomb Shelter Housing Market,” China Urban Development Discussion Series, MIT, March 2013.

“Real rights to the city: sharing sidewalk space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Peking University, January 2013.

“Spatial ethnography of HCMC’s sidewalk life in transition,” University of Toronto, October 2012

“Comparison of Land Takings for Economic Development Controversies in Vietnam, China, and the United States,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, August 2012.

“Beyond Comparison: Critical Geographies of Urban Theory,” with Neil Brenner, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, May 2012.

“SLAB and Spatial Ethnography,” Department of Architecture, Columbia University, March 2012.

“Urban Planning + Art Practice?,” Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT, November 2011.

“Real rights to the city:  sharing sidewalk space in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, April 2011.

“Sidewalk City: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” Department of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Hawaii, January 2011.

“Learning to be Capitalists: entrepreneurs in Vietnam’s transition economy,” Harvard Business School, December 2009.


recent conference presentations

“Re-Mapping the Poor and Public Space: Street vendors on the sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City,” Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, April 2013.

“Excavating Beijing’s Subterranean Urbanism: Mapping the real estate market for bomb shelter apartments” in New Geographies of Urban China symposium and “On Criticality in Mapping: GeoDesign, GIS, Planning,” American Association of Geographers, Los Angeles, April 2013

“Seeing Public(s) Space,” Putting Public Space in its Place Conference, Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, March 2013

“Spatial ethnography and the Narrative map,” in the Qualitative GIS Symposium and “Map-making and Visualization for Critical Research”, American Association of Geographers, New York, NY, February 2012

discussant for “Mapping and Visualization Approaches for Social Change,” Annual Critical Geography Conference, Clark University, November 2011

“artist/planner: Blurring boundaries and creating new urbanisms,” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, UT, October 2011

“Mapping unmapped property:  Advocating a spatially and temporally flexible planning paradigm with application to sidewalks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” American Association of Geographers, Seattle, WA, April 2011

Global Legal Transformation Conference, Columbia University Law School, October 2010, “Annette M. Kim:  property rights research”

“Mapping Unmapped Property: Sidewalks in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Annual Conference, Minneapolis, MN October 2010

“Making way: mapping the street vendors on the sidewalks of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam,” Contesting the Streets Conference, UCLA, May 2010