i write i teach i build i deconstruct
Magda Maaoui is a Design Critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and a Postdoc Researcher at the Joint Center for Housing Studies. Prior to that, she was an Urban Planner and Research Associate at the Atelier Parisien d'Urbanisme (APUR), acted as an external expert consultant for the OECD, and was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Paris Cité.
She explores the housing production cycle from start to finish: as the consequence of regulation and policy, an act of design and construction, and a catalyst for neighborhood health and environmental outcomes. In her research, she contrasts this long-exposure housing study between neighborhoods of the Global North and South, comparing coalitions and results. In her work as a planner, she puts this scholarship into practice, engaging community groups and political leaders to respond to the global housing crisis, one roof at a time.
With this, she wants to empower the next generation of planners - scholars and practitioners alike. In her classes, they grasp how some debates and lines of thought that drive urban planning are reiterations of the past and yet with little ode to it, and they imagine new modes of practice across all scales of the built environment.
Dr Maaoui tip-toes that elusive line of academia meets practice, with research that solves real planning problems, and boots on the ground that inform better planning scholarship. She evaluates strategies for the preservation and creation of affordable housing including, adaptive reuse, infill densification, inclusionary zoning, fair-share mandates and rent stabilization. She therefore intends to produce policy-relevant, actionable findings for legislators, planners, and advocacy organizations eager to rethink land use systems. She holds a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University GSAPP. Her dissertation, successfully defended in 2021, looked at how politics and power relations have shaped inclusionary zoning outcomes in French and American historically disinvested neighborhoods. This comparative political economy was based on sociological and econometric research which she carried during four years of fieldwork shadowing public sector agents in charge of housing provision in New York and Paris. She spent these years investigating the construction of two mixed-income eco-district housing projects, the Fort d’Aubervilliers in the Seine-Saint-Denis department, and Sendero Verde in East Harlem.
Normalienne agrégée with an academic and professional experience acquired in Europe (France, Denmark), Africa (Algeria, Morocco, Senegal) and the Americas (United States, Canada, Costa Rica), projects she has worked on range from sustainable policy to housing and education, community planning and neighborhood revitalization. She received a Bachelor in Planning and Geography from the Université Lyon II Lumière, and a Masters in Planning and Geography from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, with high honors. She held a Visiting position at UC Berkeley during her Masters training, and was also a Fulbright Fellow. Her planning thesis (Magna Cum Laude), titled “East Palo Alto: the Gentrification of a Suburban Ghetto? Urban Representations and Gentrification Pressure in the Silicon Valley” investigated longitudinal gentrification-induced displacement threats impacting historically disinvested neighborhoods neighboring Silicon Valley tech campuses.
Her research has been featured in popular news sources including Le Monde, Architectural Review, Ouest France, Bondy Blog, La Gazette des Communes, the France Inter and France Culture public radios. It has also been used in campaigns for good governance and affordable housing provision reform in France and in the United States. Most importantly, her competencies provide her with a fascination for urban politics and community development - a fascination which also drives her advocacy work and nonprofit engagements.
She maintains an active stream of collaborative research. She is a member of the ACSP and Urban Affairs Association networks and a reviewer for the Revue Urbanités. She has written or co-written peer-reviewed articles for the Berkeley Planning Journal, Housing Studies, Urban Studies and the Journal of Planning Education and Research. She has contributed to the books Habiter l'Indépendance (2022), Zoning: a Guide for 21st-Century Planning (2020), Paris Fluctuat (forthcoming 2023) and the critical comparative planning encyclopedia Commonplace (forthcoming 2024). She also cofounded the participatory design practice Ateliers d’Alger, a collective focusing on urban planning solutions for neighborhoods in Algeria and in France, based on local participatory workshops, civic engagement and the curation of expertise from local and transnational professionals, which has received several awards and grants from the Mairie de Paris, the Davis Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
- Additional information on her work available upon request -
- Sample resume featured in the Women Seeking Faculty Positions CV Book (2021) -