Social Mobility and Inclusion – Can architectural and urban interventions help improve it?

I’ve recently started following this blog called {FAVEL issues}. They publish fascinating critical pieces about informality and informal lives. Here is new piece about architectural and urban interventions to address informality. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything this post says, I did find it interesting. Janice Perlman’s 25 minute lecture at the end is a must see for anyone interested in informality.

{FAVEL issues}

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Poverty and exclusion are two of the major issues that politicians – but more importantly in the context of this blog, architects, planners, and urban designers (or students of such professions) often refer to when they present projects of “improvement” or of spatial articulation between informal settlements and the formal city. Often, their final objective is to generate positive inclusion social mobility – that is, the movement of individuals or groups up (or down) from their current socio-economic level. And so, the question is: can architecture or design truly improve social mobility?

Janice Perlman, one of the few researchers that has continuously investigated life in favelas for more than forty years, published her latest book “Favela: Four decades of Living in the Edge in Rio de Janeiro” in 2010.[i] Last week, I had the opportunity to attend her presentation at the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, and…

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Inclusive Cities for Informal Workers

The post Inclusive Cities for Informal Workers challenges the inclusiveness of urban renewal schemes in the Global South as being exclusionary. I recently got hold of a new article by Ananya Roy called “Slum-free cities of the Asian century: Postcolonial government and the project of inclusive growth”.  Both that paper and this blog post, make a similar argument for the need to look at citymaking in the Asian Century as a “as a citationary structure which enables distinctive teleologies of development and projects of postcolonial power. More on this soon.
 

A glimpse of informality in Bangkok

I’ve seen informal settlements around railroad lines in Mumbai and Delhi, I’ve never seen the kind of appropriation that you see in the video here. I cringe away from saying “pretty awesome”, but it is interesting to say the least. How we as designers assume that we have the know-how and the tools to design settlements, dwellings and spaces in the face of such ingenuity always surprises and disturbs me. At the same time, I don’t want to romanticise the conditions that these people are living in, but there is definitely ‘Value’ in their appropriating spaces around them with such creativity. I’d go so far as to say, that this creativity is something we can only admire because it comes from a place that one can only experience and not learn to access.

Well hell– I am romanticising it!