An Experiment in Transdisciplinary Systems Mapping: Architecture and the Water–Energy–Sanitation Nexus in Brazil

Marco Aurélio Soares de Castro, Norma Valencio, Deljana Iossifova, Cristine Diniz Santiago, Luciana Ziglio, Arthur Valencio, Erica Pugliesi, Juliano Costa Gonçalves, Eric Cheung, Ulysses Sengupta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban environments contain and are part of a wide range of interconnected complex systems, including infrastructures and services. Rapid and often uncontrolled urbanization triggers distributive inequities and environmental injustices, posing urgent and interconnected challenges that demand inter- and transdisciplinary solutions. Despite architecture’s commitment to ‘sustainability’, its central role in urban systems and their dynamics as well as the discipline’s intersections with other disciplines remain relatively little explored. In this contribution, we focus on the water–energy–sanitation (WES) nexus in Brazil, drawing from transdisciplinary workshops, scoping reviews, and systems mapping. We propose a framework for the analysis of urban nexuses. This framework builds on transdisciplinary systems mapping for the identification of nexus components, nodes, and their interconnections. Our findings indicate that a nexus perspective allows us to identify challenges in urban nexuses, productive intersections with the knowledge and approaches from other disciplines, and possible solutions in collaboration with non-academic stakeholders. We advocate for an expanded professional field and a redefined sense of responsibility within the discipline.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-88
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2024


  • sanitation
  • energy
  • water
  • Brazil
  • urban nexus
  • systems mapping
  • transdisciplinary approach
  • water–energy–sanitation (WES) nexus

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities


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