Tactical Resilience

  • Location:
    John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toroto
  • Date:
    2014
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PURE SPACE: public space transformation in LatinAmerican slums includes 21 projects located in informal settlementswithin the cities of Lima, Medellin, Guayaquil, Valparaiso, Caracasand Rio de Janeiro. The projects are innovative in the ways thatthey have leveraged and consolidated public space, through theirinvestment in larger urban or environmental concerns.

Slums are home to between 30% and 50% of theinhabitants of Latin American cities. Within these settlements, ashortage of public space is the norm. Often, the ratio of publicspace per capita is 10 times less than in more established,formally disposed parts of the city. Any justification for buildingpublic space appears trivial when compared to securing basic needssuch as potable water, sanitation, better accessibility andpersonal security. Yet, the compromised social cohesion thatcharacterizes many slums can be directly associated with a lack ofspaces for mutual recognition and reconciliation that arefundamental to the well-being and security of a community. Theresult is too often poor communal organization, crime andviolence.

While several of the projects were successful insecuring funding for the creation of public spaces within theseinformal settlements, a number were affiliated with largeinfrastructure investments or were related to the need forenvironmental conservation, sanitation or risk management. A fewprojects were the result of more conventional approaches, realizedthrough new buildings or pavement projects. And lastly, rather thanthrough the physical transformation of a place, some public spacesemerged from the imposition of an activity or program that servedto alter the way that it was perceived and used. The projects inthis exhibit were not necessarily resolved with a primary concernfor design considerations, at least in the most conventional senseof its role in professional work. Their merit instead lies in thefact that the projects were able to effectively justify an economicand community investment in public space, while responding to theimplicit social challenges associated with their implementation.The creative design approaches seen here demonstrate that it ispossible to realize projects that appear to be undermined bysocial, bureaucratic, logistical, or purely programmaticconsiderations. As such, the projects may serve as exemplars forthe design of other infrastructure, preservation and sanitationprojects in communities throughout Latin America and beyond.