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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Favela Chic

  • Author(s): Navarro-Sertich, Adriana
  • et al.

Currently, the most interesting efforts to address informal settlements, or favelas, are exemplified in Latin America. We are now witnessing spectacular libraries in depressed neighborhoods, gondola systems in marginalized areas, and museums in informal settlements. Following a long history of tabula rasa, public housing, self-help, and sites-and-services schemes, current approaches have evolved to include strategies characterized as urban acupuncture, making design a central component in the approach and aiming to minimize displacement while improving conditions in the area. Although current design-centered interventions could be catalysts to claim rights to the city, conversations about key issues and short- and long-term outcomes are critical: Why, where and how are these interventions operating?

Based on comparative field studies in South America, this essay will illustrate the potentials and limitations of current practices in ‘slum upgrading.’

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