ARCHITECT, from the Superior Technical School of Architecture Madrid ( ETSAM)- UPM, 2002

CAP (Certificate of pedagogic aptitude) , from the INSTITUTO CIENCAS DE LA EDUCACIÓN- UCM, 2003

POSTGRADUATE DIPLOMA in Development of Human Settlements , UPM, 2003

DEA (Diploma of advanced studies), ETSAM- UPM, 2010


Educational background

2002-08 Fundación Cultural COAM, Courses on: Constructive technologies for a sustainable architecture; Technical building code (CTE); Tricalc.

2000 Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), Postgraduate Diploma in Development of Human Settlements

“Cooperation for the development of human settlements in the third world, instruments of urban planning and housing in Latin America and Africa", 140 hours.


Professional experience

2013 -pres. Director of the ICHaB (Instituto de Cooperación en Habitabilidad Básica- Development Institute on Basic Habitability), ETSAM, UPM

2002- 2014. Coordinator of the UNESCO Chair in Basic Habitability in the UPM

2010 Diagnosis of 82 schools in Port-au-Prince (Haití), for Entreculturas and Foi et Joie Haití, march 2010

Intermediate evaluation of the Agreement between CESAL and the AECID, 07-CO1-042 on "Basic Habitability" in Ecuador and Perú.

2002-2010 Associate Architect. Perelló-De Paz Architecs, Las Rozas, Madrid. Design & Management Responsible Ecodesign


Teaching experience

2002- pres. Associate professor (6+6), ETSAM (Superior Technical School of Architecture Madrid ) -UPM, from september 2012.

2007-16 Postgraduate Course on : “Cooperation for the development of human settlements in the third world, instruments of urban planning and housing in Latin America and Africa”, UPM, ICHaB, ETSAM, UNESCO Chair in Basic Habitability in the UPM. Coordination and class.

2006-13 Master in Collective Housing, UPM, ETSAM. Assistant professor in the Low-Cost Housing Workshop.

2012-16 Master in Technology for the Human Development and the Cooperation, UPM, Assistant professor in the speciality of Basic Habitability

2012 I Postgraduate Course on 'Basic Habitability for the Social Integration. Instruments of territorial arrangement, plannings urban and housing', Universidad Nacional de Ingeniaría de Lima, Perú, School of Architecture, Urban Planning and Arts, october-november 2012

2009-11 Master's Degree in International Cooperation and Development of the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, Assistant professor in the speciality of Basic Habitability

2006-16 Seminars and courses in the University Eduardo Mondlane, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Maputo, Mozambique; Catholic University Santiago de Guayaquil, School of Architecture, Guayaquil, Ecuador; University Antenor Orrego, School of Architecture, Truijillo, Peru; General Fundation of the UCM, Escuela Complutense de Verano; National Institute of Public Administration (INAP), Alcalá de Henares

Belén Gesto Links

Belén Gesto MCH Experience

  • ICHab-UPM Website

Assitant professor Anna Heringer Workshop. MCH'2018.

Specialty Leader: Low-Cost & Emergency Housing. MCH'2017, MCH'2018

Low-cost & Emergency Housing

Specialty Module



The demographic growth and the urbanisation process that the planet has experienced in the last century has turned into the generation of slums and in the increase of population living in conditions of precarious habitability (HaP) result of the informal urbanisation, in contexts of poverty. According to the United Nations estimations, this situation will continue taking place in the next decades, especially in the cities of the least developed regions.

The world population increases in more than 70 million person per year, and it takes place - according to the urbanization trends of the planet- preferably in the developing countries' cities. Either the building sector nor the urban planning discipline have been capable of attending the problem and its scale.

The urban poor have to solve an equation with diverse variables: the need of access to soil, optimize housing costs, the dwellings quality, access to infrastructures and services, or the displacement to the work. The result is a mixture of high costs, absence of municipal services and insecurity in the property of the soil, and it makes up the slums of the cities inthe developing countries, where nowadays a third of its population lives overcrowded, without drinking water nor improved sanitation or in insecure and unhealthy housings.

Seven of every ten housings units in the world that are auto-built because the formal market does not have capacity of response: the poorest, trying to solve their habitat equation, invade areas where build a shelter.

Urban squatting or “invading” land that belongs to someone else is usually the initial stage of what, over time, become slums or tugurios, variously termed callampas in Chile, favelas in Brazil, limonás in Guatemala, ranchos in Venezuela, villas miseria in Argentina, pueblos jóvenes in Peru, ciudades paracaidistas in Mexico or bidonvilles in French-speaking countries. In 2012, such communities housed 32,7 % of the urban population in developing countries1. Around one quarter of the world’s urban population continues to live in slums. In Africa, over half of the urban population (61.7%) lives in slums and by 2050, Africa’s urban dwellers are projected to have increased from 400 million to 1.2 billion.

One of the building sector's challenge, is the overwhelming housing deficit and the new urban growth in the least developed countries. Urban plannig must work with and in slums, and should be able to anticipate even spontaneous construction.




Housing and basic habitability play a central role in reaching basic levels of human development. That's why the present seminar wants to introduce students to that problem -slums, informal city and new urban development-, and will try to provide them with some instruments to deal with some of the challenges they could find if they decided to work on developing contexts. Instruments on low cost and emergency housing.

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