Urban Think Tank on learning lessons from slums

By June 6, 2013 Blog, NewsBites


“In 2010, the UN estimated that 830 million people lived in slums worldwide, and predicted the number to rise to 900 million by 2020. In Latin America, almost 80% of the population live in urban areas; in Dhaka, Bangladesh, an estimated 3.4 million people live across the city’s 5,000-plus slums. These are huge numbers living in dangerous conditions. Yet Brillembourg isn’t the only urbanist who argues that while improving the conditions must come first, so the innovations that arise from slums should not be ignored.”

Can architects and urban designers learn from the collective processes that drive the formation of informal settlements? An article in the Guardian asks Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban Think Tank, who believes there is something to learn when it comes to their capacity to create innovative solutions from limited resources and challenging environmental requirements. The article also mentions innovations such as the Wikihouse, which we talked about last week.

Architects like Alejandro Zaera-Polo, dean of the School of Architecture at Princeton University, are less enthusiastic. Nevertheless, he recognizes how slums provide invaluable evidences of how the public realm emerges out of a group of individuals, as does Brillembourg. Perhaps Brillembourg may have a point when he says, “The architect is well positioned to become the guy that designs the process, not the form. The framework, and not the actual building.”

Read the full article at the Guardian.

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