Dr Pablo Arboleda

  • Research Associate (School of Geographical & Earth Sciences)

Research interests

My educational history spanning Architecture, Heritage, and Urban Studies has shaped an interdisciplinary approach to the study of modern urban ruins in a European context, affording me growing profile in cognate fields such as Cultural Geography, Contemporary Archaeology, and Visual Arts. Firstly, my Master thesis delved into abandoned buildings in Berlin and the subculture of urban exploration; further, my PhD was a study of unfinished public works in Italy that have been reimagined as an architectural style by a group of engaged artists. Building from the increasing aestheticisation of ruins, my current research project examines what happens when derelict sites are repurposed through minimal architectural intervention, envisioning them as 'ready-made' facilities for new collective activities.


Research Interests

  • Post-industrial societies, 2008 economic crisis, and failed architecture
  • The neoliberalisation of the city and the loss (and creation) of heritage identity
  • Photo and video documentation, aestheticisation of decay and visual culture
  • Urban exploration, embodied experiences, psychogeography, and emotion and affect
  • Entropy and non-traditional approaches to material conservation
  • Re-occupation, community collaboration and bottom-up decision-making
  • Ethnography and participatory methodologies
  • Creative scientific writing


'Utility after abandonment: The modern urban ruin as cultural asset and public space' - Postdoctoral Research Fellowship (Urban Studies Foundation, 2018-2021). This project investigates what happens when derelict sites undergo diverse kinds of transformation into new cultural assets, and how utility during transition is actually of general significance in urban change. Through a series of situated inquiries in four different cities (Glasgow, Madrid, Berlin, Athens), I study the multivariate roles of socially engaged activists, cultureā€brokers, and local institutional stakeholders in a complex urban process where architectures of abandonment acquire new social meaning and value. Within the contemporary European experience of crisis, identity and cohesion, this research examines the possibility to reoccupy modern ruins creatively and collaboratively, as public spaces to rebuild communities, alliances and solidarities.

'Reckoning with Incompiuto Siciliano: Unfinished public works as modern ruins and all which it entails' - Thüringer Graduiertenförderung Doctoral Scholarship (Bauhaus University Weimar, 2015-2017). During the last 50 years, and due to the dilapidation of public funds, hundreds of unfinished public works have been erected Italy. In 2007, the group of artists Alterazioni Video declared these ruins a formal architectural style – 'Incompiuto Siciliano' – a creative re-interpretation that conveys the recovered dignity of these spaces. My research project embraced the artists’ argument to develop a complete study of the present case, embedding it within the main debates on modern ruins at present. This work contributed to the revalorization and eventual recommissioning of unfinished sites by validating Incompiuto Siciliano in the realm of artistic, cultural and aesthetic practices.