The Colombo Urban Lab is a collaborative and interdisciplinary space that enables connections between research, practice and public policy.

With a focus on key themes such as public space, housing, infrastructure, livelihood and food sovereignty, and rooted in ethical engagement with communities, the Colombo Urban Lab’s mission is to produce knowledge on equitable and sustainable cities in Sri Lanka. The Lab is an incubator for those driven by the desire to better understand and analyse the transformations taking place in our built environment. We work with researchers and practitioners across Asia to draw on and learn from comparative experiences and advocate for more research driven policy making where the life experiences of a city’s citizens and their aspirations form the basis of a city’s development. We work with State actors and community members to use innovative and inclusive tools of engagement and planning methods in the development process.

Get in touch with us – [email protected]

Director – [email protected]


Living Off-Grid Food and Infrastructure Collaboration (LOGIC)

April 2020 – September 2023

This research is designed to help improve the lives of the poorest residents of cities in Africa and Asia by focusing on how they are meeting their basic needs and accessing infrastructure, particularly when they are living ‘off-grid’. Funded by the United Kingdom Research Institute (UKRI), the research is led by a consortium including experts in urban research from Africa and Asia, brought together by the Institute of Development Studies.

Working across five cities which represent different types of urban environment: Tamale, Ghana, Mossel Bay, South Africa, Epworth, Zimbabwe, Bangalore, India and Colombo, Sri Lanka we look at five main types of infrastructure – water, sanitation, energy, transport and communications. In order to gain a better understanding of these systemic urban issues and how they are affecting the poorest and most marginalised, we focus our research on one key way of measuring whether basic needs are being met – whether people have stable access and availability of sufficient, diverse and nutritious diets – their ‘Food and Nutrition Security’. This provides us with a way of researching how these various infrastructures combine at multiple levels, in order to achieve a more ‘systemic’ understanding of infrastructure provision and the implications for people’s lives.