Mapping Urban Interfaces: A Typology of Public/Private Interfaces in Informal Settlements

Urban interfaces play a key role in enabling the different forms of social and economic exchange and the ways in which open space is contested and appropriated in informal settlements. Many upgrading practices involve a transformation of public/private interfaces. The transition between public and private territories is one of the critical issues in planning, urban design, and architecture that has the capacity to enable or constrain exchange and production. This paper develops a typology for analysing and mapping public/private interfaces in informal settlements. Drawing on the evidence from multiple case studies of informal settlements in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and South America, a typology of six interface types is introduced based on the criteria of proximity and connectivity. The study is informed by direct observation, visual recordings, and urban mapping to shed light on the ways in which urban interfaces work in informal settlements.

Transformation on Abandonment: Toward a Critical Practice in Preservation of Rural Identity

While the major cities in Denmark experience population and economic growth, the villages in surrounding rural areas face abandonment and decay. Today’s widespread EU and state funds for demolition of abandoned houses generally emphasize the rapid eradication of cultural values under the guise of state-authorized cleanup projects. This paper outlines a research project on the increasing quantity of abandoned houses in the depopulating rural villages, and it reports on how an attempt is made to establish a counter-practice of radical preservation based on a series of full-scale transformations of abandoned buildings. The aim of the transformations is to reveal and preserve material and immaterial values such as aspects of cultural heritage, local narratives, and building density. The responses of local people are used as a feedback mechanism and considered an important impact indicator. Eleven transformations of varying strategies have already been prototyped at full scale in various rural villages. The paper focuses on two of these strategies “the controlled ruin” and “the re-encoded remnant.” Bringing in examples from Sicily, it seeks to contextualize the emerging research practice to three different preservation strategies, which were undertaken contemporaneously after the earthquake in the Belice Valley in 1968. In short, previous studies on consequences of depopulation mainly focused on creating economic development in rural areas; this study seeks to explore, identify, and subsequently activate embedded values in abandoned houses. Transformation prototypes are tested as present manifestations in rural villages as an alternative way to preserve buildings as well as memories.

A Matter of Scale or Social Content?: Infilling Voids for Social Action, Learning from and in the Neighborhood

Built environments have two facets, social and spatial, that when intertwined define a particular setting and distinguish it from all other categories of built environments. The social content of setting includes those aspects that relate to social norms, rules, shared expectations for social interaction, and engagement. Spatial conditions, then, refer to the physical properties of built environments such as the locations and positioning of objects and information. Designers across multiple scales qualify or transform social content through their use of spatial conditions in the design of built environments. This article explores design proposals of a variety of typologies that interweave social content with spatial conditions to propose settings that are consistent with opportunities associated with technology and the complexities associated with urban growth. We are living in an era of constant change due to the evolution and revolution in technology. Americans’ preferences associated with suburbia in the last fifty years have shaped a society in which its members are detached from one another. Additionally, technology enables members to shop, work, learn, and even socialize from home. The result is a system of voids, social and physical, at multiple scales within the built environment. It is imperative to identify the environmental settings of typological models that have not changed since the industrial revolution, as well as explore how they must adapt as a consequence of changes associated with technology. Can strategies of urban design be implemented to create social action at the scale of the interior and vice versa?