Informal, formal and collaborative (IFC) is a DESIS thematic cluster that is being developed in order to identify potential ideas for a new generation of services that could be designed from the underserved communities’ perspective.

Underserved communities are complex social ecosystems, characterized by their lack of basic services and the density of their social networks. These communities are usually – but not exclusively – placed on Informal settlements, which are urban areas that function outside or at the limits of the regulations that govern society in cities and their surrounding territories. Brazilian favelas, South African townships, North African shantytowns, Indian slums or the problematic neighborhoods of cities in the world’s North: altogether a billion people are estimated to live in such places today (and it is predicted that this figure will double in the next 15 years).

Considering that, the informal, formal and collaborative (IFC) thematic cluster aims to capitalize on the rich social and human resources that exist within underserved communities, where processes of dynamic change are happening despite resource-and service-constrained environments. This Cluster will investigate situations and cases for design and collaborative services as opportunities for social leapfrogging.