The Future is Slums

Slum Typology
February 18, 2010, 7:28 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Slum Typology :

A: Metro Core

a. tenements
b. public housing
c. flophouses

2. Informal
b. pavement dwellers

B: Periphery
a. private rental
b. public housing

2. Informal
a.pirate subdivisions (owned/rented)
b. squatters (authorized/unauthorized)

3. Refugee Camps

Planet of Slums, Mike Davis

Majority of world’s poor no longer live in inner-cities, the majority of recent growth occurs along edge of third world cities. This “horizontalization” of world cities is causing us to rethink the notion of periphery. The ever increasing number of people living in outer slums has redefined the relationship of inner to outer.

Edge development takes two major forms: squatter settlement and pirate subdivisions

Squatting: possesion of land without sale or title

Squatting can be described as a “quiet encroachment of the ordinary”: small-scale non-confrontational encroachment of edge and interstitial sites.  Squatters have no legal right to land which presents a disincentive to build sturdy,permanent structures and settlements.   The emergence of squatter settlements  often occurs during periods of political uncertainty or after natural disasters.  Large settlement squatting in the developing world reached its peak in the 70s, squatting is now limited to hazardous/marginalized lands within urbanized areas, land with so little worth that no one bothers to enforce formal laws of tenure.

Pirate urbanization: informal real estate market created by illegal subdivison

This process of land development is better described as extralegal rather than illegal. People shut out of formal housing markets buy quasi-legally subdivided parcel with bare min. of services from land developer.  This system can be thought of as a privatization of squatting and became the norm of low-income housing around world in the 1990s. When it is legal, the land is developed by a speculator, when illegal, the developer is often a corrupt pol, or local crime faction.  In this settlement type, some formal planning takes place (street grids/uniform lots), but there is limited availability of basic services (if any at all), and usually consist of “bootleg” utility hookups.

“planned layouts, low service levels, suburban locations, high-tenure security, non-conformity to urban development plans, and self-help housing” (Mexico City, Bogota, Sao Paulo, Cairo, Tunis, Harare, Karachi, Manila, and the newly formed colonias of El Paso and Palm Springs)

Low-Income Renters:
This system of tenure is extremely pervasive but not well understood.  We do know that slum renting is an exploitative relationship between the poor, poorer, and poorest. In squatter settlements, the poorest residents rent from land from squatters and build their own self-help housing.  In other settlements where residents possess title, low-incoming rentals offer a means to monetize their property.  Renters are the most powerless and exploited slum residents.


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