Magda Maaoui

Design Critic in Urban Planning and Design

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 holds a PhD in Urban Planning from Columbia University GSAPP. Dr Maaoui was also a Fulbright Fellow, received a Bachelor in Planning and Geography from the Université Lyon II Lumière, a Masters in Planning and Geography from the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, and held a Visiting position at UC Berkeley during her Masters training.

Her research has been featured in popular news sources including Le MondeArchitectural ReviewOuest FranceBondy BlogLa 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. 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 JournalHousing StudiesUrban 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), Pour en finir avec le petit Paris (forthcoming 2024) and the critical comparative planning encyclopedia Commonplace (forthcoming 2024). She also co-founded the participatory design practice Ateliers d’Alger which has received awards and grants from the Mairie de Paris, the Davis Foundation and the Ford Foundation.