Urbanism Manual for Precarious Settlements (Manual de Urbanismo para Asentamientos Precarios)

Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by

While working with local slum dwellers, a group of architects from the University of Buenos Aires found there was a dearth of material on how best to develop a self-built community, as well as of sources outlining local codes, agencies, and basic rights for inhabitants. The university’s Secretariat of Community Action, formed to strengthen ties with the community through projects, training, advisement, and field work, designed a fully illustrated and annotated Urbanism Manual for Precarious Settlements.

Distributed for free, the manual is a compilation of urban, legal, and other invaluable tools to create a healthy, adequate urban environment, such as location relative to geography, infrastructure, and waterways; planning for walkways, roads, housing plots, open space, transportation, and gardens; how to work with government agencies; and listing local and national resources. Sketches made in the field interpret conditions and solutions for new informal settlers and others who may not understand architectural drawings, and real-life testimonies pass on valuable knowledge in organizing improvements to settlements. The workbook is designed to accommodate photocopying to encourage wide distribution. And although it was produced specifically for Buenos Aires, it is also meant to be adapted for other cities. The group works to determine where settlements are emerging and provides the manual to squatters in those locales. Of the one thousand copies printed thus far, 600 have been distributed to mayors, universities, technicians, and organizations working in slums; it is also available free online, filling the gap between a settlement`s rapid construction time and the typically slow government response.

Viviana Asrilant and Gabriela Sorda, with Leandro Cairuga, Nicolás Cambón, Sabrina Cifre, Giovanni Da Prat, Germán García, Juliana Giménez, Melina Espósito, Eliana Maffulo, Verónica Navas, Guadalupe Tello, and Constanza Tommei, Secretariat of Community Action, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, University of Buenos Aires. Collaborators: Buenos Aires settlement communities, Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia, Centro de Derecho a la Vivienda y contra los desalojos, Asociación Civil Madre tierra. Villa 31 Bis, Barrio Los Eucaliptos, Barrio San Roque, Barrio Los Pinos, Barrio Indaburu, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2006–9

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