An Incremental Approach to Slum Improvement

Flavie Halais looks at both successful and unsuccessful cases of alleviating slum conditions on three continents. For the best results, practitioners must be more adept at problem solving and creativity than pure design.

As part of Architectural Record's "Sheltering the World" March 2013 issue, which looks at international, innovative housing schemes, Flavie Halais argues that incremental housing solutions are the most sensitive way to deal with increasing urban slum populations.

Citing successful examples in India and Brazil, Halais praises Charles Correa's 1983 informal Artist Village in Belapur and Rio's 1994 Favela Bairro program, which began introducing small-scale infrastructural improvements before focusing on improving and centralizing dwellings.

Halais criticizes UN Habitat for its clarion emphasis on slum-free cities and the effect this mantra has had in South Africa and in today's Rio, which is evicting favela dwellers in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Providing examples of current successful approaches to slum development in India and Latin America, Halais concludes with the following principle:

"In informal settlements the role of architect, planner, anthropologist can intersect in complex but often advantageous ways, and traditional roles and responsibilities must be put aside. Here individual clients are virtually non-existent; practitioners serve communities, and beyond that, a cause."

Full Story: Beyond Architecture

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