As director of the Center for Territorial Intelligence in Santiago, Chile, Luis Valenzuela works at the intersection of disciplinary tools—which are useful for representing spatial conditions—and the visualization of emergent social and economic issues in Chilean cities and in Latin America more broadly. He explores new strategies that help to reduce a long lasting gap between mechanisms for gathering and building evidence and informed decision-making within design processes. His main focus lies in the development of new approaches for technological tools of spatial modeling, which are regarded as new windows for innovation in the field of applied research. Here he probes seemingly simple—yet truly complex—contemporary city challenges surrounding some of the most demanding questions about our built environment.
A permanent effort of bringing academia to the front line of public discussions, granting the production of urban knowledge with agency for impacting public policy and major decisions of investment, represents Luis Valenzuela´s major contribution to the current state of Chilean and Latin American urban practices. After completing the Doctor of Design program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, he designed and implemented Chile’s first Master in Urban Design Program at the School of Architecture and Urban studies of Universidad Católica de Chile (2008). He went on to become the founder and director of the Center for Territorial Intelligence at the Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez, part of the DesignLAB. Luis Valenzuela is currently an associate professor at Universidad Adolfo Ibanez where he leads an interdisciplinary research agenda generating methodologies, indicators for measure, strategies for the identification of patterns, and tools for developing visualizations and modeling in an effort to help guide decision making in the formulation of design strategies and interventions. Such a quest has articulated a collaborative environment of practice, composed by architects, designers, geographers, economists, engineers, mathematicians, among others, with the capacity for understanding issues of our environments using disciplinary tools of design as a common convergent platform.
Among the research lines that Luis is currently undertaking, he has focused in understanding the urban context of the home of criminals among Chilean cities, the role of social space in the dynamics that are at the backstage of key processes, and urban standards of their neighborhoods. If it is clear that we need to intervene the violent urban crime cycle, is to the question of “how do we do it” to what the outcomes of this research are providing crucial clues. Furthermore, findings of the current research are clarifying misinterpretations relating poverty with crime, mobility with real estate, and life quality indicators with segregation, among others. Due to its successful development, this research agenda recently granted a five year US$2.5 million research grant to be extended for a subsequent 5 years, in association with Universidad de Chile, Universidad Católica de Chile and Universidad Diego Portales for the research project entitled Social Conflict and Cohesion in Chile´s Development in Crisis Processes. This project has four branches to be worked through the geographies of dispute as the spatial dimension of conflict and social cohesion in its socioeconomic dimensions of equitable and productive development, its social interaction and conflict and its political and social conflict.
Luis Valenzuela was a member of the former Presidential Commission for the Urban Development National Policy, current advisor to the Minister of Housing and Urbanism and to the Chilean Construction Chamber in their Housing and Infrastructure National Committees. His recent professional practice closely relates to the applied research in the mining industry’s territorial and socio-economical impacts, real estate strategic advice, urban public policy for new development mitigations systems, and campus planning.