1st Edition

Informal Settlements of the Global South

Edited By Gihan Karunaratne Copyright 2023
    328 Pages 90 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Bringing together case studies ranging across the globe, including the US-Mexico borderlands, the Calais encampment in France, refugee camps in Kenya, Uganda and Bangladesh and contested ‘informal’ enclaves and communities in the cities of India, China, Brazil, Nigeria and South Africa, this book challenges current ways of thinking about the governance of human settling, mobility and placemaking.

    Together, the 15 essays question the validity of the conventional hegemonic divisions of Global North vs. Global South and ‘formal’ vs. ‘informal’, in terms of geographic presence, transborder performances and the ideological inter-dependence of Northern and Southern spaces, spatial practices and the uniformity of authoritative enforcements. The book, whose authors themselves come from all over the world, uses ‘Global South’ as a methodological apparatus to ask the ‘Southern’ question of settling and unsettling across the globe. Crucially, the studies reveal the sentiments, resourcefulness and the agency of those positioned by the powerful within the dichotomies of formal/informal, legitimate/ illegal, privileged/marginalized, etc., who are traditionally identified within the dominant development discourse as mere numbers or designated by intervening institutions as helpless recipients.

    By focussing on hitherto invisible events and untold stories of adaptation, negotiation and contestation by people and their communities, this volume of essays takes the ongoing North-South debate in new directions and opens up to the reader’s fresh areas of enquiry. It will be of interest to researchers and students of architecture, planning, politics and sociology, as well as built environment professionals.


    Gihan Karunaratne

    Section 1: The emergence of ‘global south spaces’ in the north

    1. Diasporic Urbanism

    Nishat Awan (TU Delft)

    2. Temporary Sheltering, Empowering Design, and The Jungle: A Case for Architects.

    Text by Mark Breeze (Architectural Association) and photography by Henk Wildschut (Documentary Photographer)

    3. Wireless borders: illegal bodies and connected futures.

    Luis Hernan (University of Sheffield)

    4. Connecting the Camps: Spatialising the ECHO Mobile Library in Greece.

    Kitya Mark & Irit Katz, University of Cambridge.

    5. Digital and physical spaces in informal settlements: Migrants, Refugee Camps, and

    Mapping. Silvio Carta, Miriam Usiskin, Bobby Lloyd & Paul Tabar

    Section 2: Seeking Refuge in Global South Camps

    6. Accommodating Informality in the Spatial Planning of the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement,

    Kenya. Cory Rodgers, Refugee Studies Center, (University of Oxford) & Ekai Nabenyo

    (Maseno University)

    7. Understanding the Everyday Movements of South Sudanese Refugees in Uganda.

    Ryan Joseph O’Byrne_Post-Doctoral Researcher | Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa

    (London School of Economics and Political Science)

    8. The Ephemeral as an instrument of Urban Design and Planning.

    Nusrat Jahan Mim & Rahul Mehrotra (Harvard University)

    Section 3: Informal responses of the Informal Settlements in the Global South

    9. The Invisible beyond Visible: The Perils of Urban Regeneration in Colombo’s Slave Island

    Gihan Karunaratne, Jagath Munasinghe (University of Moratuwa) & Tanzil Shafique

    (University of Sheffield)

    10. A Note on the Door: Symbolic Erasure and Representational Resistance in Rio de Janeiro.

    Adam Kaasa & Bruna Montuori (Royal College of Arts)

    11. Organic Urban Regeneration: An Inclusive Urban Design for Rural-to-Urban Migrants in

    Residential Neighborhoods of Ningbo, China.

    Ali Cheshmehzangi & Eugenio Mangi (The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China)

    12. Towards a ‘hybrid’ governance approach: The way out of the urban development crisis in

    Lagos, Nigeria? A critical assessment with Makoko as a case study.

    Fabienne Hoelzel (Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design)

    13. Embracing in[formal]ity: An exploration of grounded architectural practice

    in Cape Town Rudolf Perold (Cape Peninsula University of Technology)

    & Hermie Delport, (STADIO)

    14. The Why? How? What? and What-ifs of mass slum rehabilitation housing in India

    Ronita Bardhan & Jiayu Pan (University of Cambridge)


    15. The Pandemic and Informal settlements.

    Cynthia Goytia (Cynthia Goytia. Torcuato Di Tella University and Visiting Scholar at Harvard




    Gihan Karunaratne is a Sri Lankan-born British architect and studied at Royal College of Arts and Bartlett School of Architecture.

    He has taught and lectured in Architecture, Urban Design and Interior Design in the UK, Sri Lanka and China. He writes and researches extensively on art, architecture and urban design.

    Gihan’s current research interests are in architecture and urban conditions within cities which are undergoing constant physical, economic or social changes in patterns of urban living.

    In many of his projects he has researched and explored the underbelly of the city in detail, specifically focussing on non-conformist marginalized communities. From urban transition courses and temporality in the Global South, he remains actively engaged in urban research with focus on informal settlements and communities.