Informal Urbanization in Latin America : Collaborative Transformations of Public Spaces book cover
1st Edition

Informal Urbanization in Latin America
Collaborative Transformations of Public Spaces

ISBN 9780367545895
Published July 15, 2021 by Routledge
208 Pages 74 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Various kinds of informal and extra-legal settlements—commonly called shantytowns, favelas, or barrios—are the prevailing type of urban land use in much of the developing world. United Nations estimates suggest that there are close to 900 million people living in squatter communities worldwide, with the number expected to increase in the coming decades.

Informal Urbanization in Latin America investigates prevailing strategies for addressing informal settlements, which started to shift away from large-scale slum clearance to on-site upgrading in Latin America over the last 40 years, by improving public spaces, infrastructure and facilities. The cases in this book range from one micro intervention (the Villa Tranquila Project in Buenos Aires) to three large-scale government-run projects: the celebrated Favela Bairro Program in Rio de Janeiro, the social housing program in São Paulo and the famous Proyectos Urbanos Integrales Approach in Medellín. The cases show a collaborative and sensitive transformation of landscape and public space, and provide designers and planners with the tools to develop better strategies that can mitigate the volatility that the residents of non-formal neighborhoods are exposed to. The book is a must-read for all who are interested or working in the global urbanization as well as social equity.

Table of Contents

Part I: Informal Neighborhoods – An Incomplete Taxonomy for a Diverse Universe  Part II: Lessons from Latin America  Case Study I: Buenos Aires – Step by Step  Interview with Flavio Janches and Max Rohm  Case Study II: Rio de Janeiro – Equality through Public Space  Interview with Lu Petersen  Case Study III: São Paulo – Protecting Water  Interview with Elisabete França and Marta Maria Lagreca de Sales  Case Study IV: Medellín – Scaling Mountains  Interview with Alejandro Echeverri  Part III: And Now?

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Christian Werthmann is a Professor of Landscape Architecture and Design at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, with extensive professional and academic experience in Europe and the United States. During his time as an Associate Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (2004–2012), he started to investigate informal urbanization and disaster zones with a focus on Latin America. His investigations have led to numerous publications, exhibitions and conferences since. In the past few years, he published with, Jessica Bridger, Metropolis Nonformal (2016), curated the "Dangerous Landscapes" conference in Hannover (2017) and co-curated the exhibition "Out There. Landscape Architecture on Global Terrain" at the Architectural Museum Munich (2017). His latest research project, [email protected], is concerned with the development of integrative early warning systems in the barrios of Medellín (2020).


"If you are a professional architect or urban planner, a scholar or a student of urban planning and design, or if you work in local or city governments, you will find this book extremely useful. It deals with the biggest challenge for city governments in the twenty-first century: informal urbanization and the appearance of slums, informal settlements and settlements, where nearly 1 billion people live today. The Coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem and showed that we need to change and urgently transform these areas. How to do that? The book provides the reader with real answers and practical examples from Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and Medellín on how to transform slums and informal settlements into livable and safe neighborhoods, integrating them into the urban fabric and planning systems of cities. This is not an easy task and the book is rich in testimonies of those directly involved in real actions that transform ideas into reality."

Claudio Acioly, urban planner, international housing and development expert

"Based on long-term research over four case studies, this book investigates the non-formal sector of urban growth in Latin America. Writing from a landscape-architectural perspective, Werthmann puts the geophysical landscape in focus for his in-depth analysis. With its anticipatory and multi-scalar approach, this book is a highly relevant contribution to the debate about improvement of urban ecologies."

Andres Lepik, Director of the Architekturmuseum, Technical University of Munich