Mari Fujita

Associate Professor

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Finding justice for urban poor : a proposal for the reinvention of development-induced resettlement projects for low-income settlements in Colombo, Sri Lanka (2023)

Urbanization is believed to be the dominant force of the 21st century, while low-income countries are the highest expected rapid expansion in the next fifty years. Colombo, Sri Lanka's commercial capital, has witnessed tremendous growth in people migration, searching for employment, and other opportunities. This situation creates an unprecedented crisis in providing shelter for this ever-increasing urban population. The poor found refuge in underserved settlements built within the city limits, making Colombo a slum city. Having identified the value of these lands where the settlements emerged, the state started relocating the urban poor into high-rise buildings. In the studies done in Colombo about the relocation programs conducted by the governments' city beautification programs and urban regeneration projects, it has been observed that social exclusion continues to happen alarmingly, where the urban poor are virtually dumped in these housing silos. In real-life scenarios, these planning schemes imposed new challenges for resettles and assessed numerous adverse impacts on these people's lives. This thesis is trying to reimagine the concept of resettlement, developing a new concept of resettlement housing model to suit the Sri Lankan context incorporating alternatives and revisions to current design practices and urban policies. The main aim is to curb the negative results caused by the existing resettlement projects and educate and bring knowledge to the relevant authorities of Colombo and the local community to restructure the whole idea of resettlement while upholding these communities' well-being.

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Reconstructing Vancouver's black community from the history of invisibility : analysis of the role of black entrepreneurship in British Columbia, Canada (2023)

This thesis examines the lived experience of Black-owned businesses in Vancouver, identifying and analyzing the practices and processes of being an African diaspora at the local level. The discussion is on how the discourses of community, nation, and race have impacted the economic prosperity within the Black community as a collective. The study will travel back in time and unravel the complex racial history of Canada and determine how racial beliefs, attitudes, and discrimination continue to be directed at people of African descent, particularly here in British Columbia. Understanding the relationship between race and colonial history will, therefore, determine the barriers that hinder the growth of black entrepreneurship in Vancouver and prove the necessity to facilitate future Black entrepreneurs to overcome economic, social, political, and psychological adversity. The city of Vancouver is undergoing a series of reconciliations for marginalized communities. In the plan, the city is committed to facilitating for the African diaspora community after urban racial policies caused the displacement of a historic black neighborhood, formally known as Hogans Alley. Therefore, the findings will frame attempts to envision and support black businesses in the future development of Hogans Alley and encourage scholars, policymakers, and practitioners to build a healthier and more inclusive city.

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Remaking place in Little Saigon: a proposal for the retention and evolution of the identity of an ethnic neighborhood in Vancouver (2021)

Small-business entrepreneurialism has been an important characteristic of the immigrant and ethnic identity in cities. The Vietnamese community in Greater Vancouver, Canada is no stranger to this. Small-business entrepreneurialism in Little Saigon along Kingsway has defined the Vietnamese Canadian experience in the city and the metro area for more than four decades. The thoroughfare has proven to be a place nurturing Vietnamese upward mobility as it offers economic opportunities to those with limited capital. However, the vibrant scene of Vietnamese and other ethnic businesses on Kingsway is being threatened by a rapid wave of redevelopments facilitated by urban policies and financial practices that pit the real estate market against ethnic neighborhoods. Today young Vietnamese have to become more creative and technologically savvy to circumvent the high costs of starting their businesses. This thesis, by reimagining the designs of the neighborhood, proposes several alternatives in urban policies and business financing options for the city, the local community, and financial stakeholders to curb the negative effects of redevelopment, uphold Kingsway’s entrepreneurial spirit, and expand upward mobility among those with limited capital, including local Vietnamese.

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Measuring social sustainability of the public realm: design of street frontages as a precondition for social sustainability (2018)

Recently sustainability has become a common consideration for urban development and design. However, its social dimension has been relatively neglected thus far (Vallanc, Perkins, and Dixon 2011; J. Robinson 2004, 378). This issue is especially significant when it comes to the development of the public realm of a city. Various elements of the public realm, including streets, are places where people meet, interact, and socialize. For this reason, the social aspect of sustainability should be one of the essential criteria when designing and developing public spaces. The focus of this study is the street as an element of the public realm and the relationship between the design of street frontages and the social sustainability of a street. From the complex spectrum of features of social sustainability, only those that are directly related to the design of street frontages were analyzed. The study was conducted at four locations in Vancouver. The results show that even though a particular area might be perceived as the one with high social qualities, it might still miss some of the critical elements of social sustainability. Additionally, it was concluded that certain features automatically induce many other qualities, promoting the development of social sustainability. The goal of this study was to generate information that could be used as a framework for future urban developments, so that cities can achieve social sustainability of the public realm.

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