HIST233 - IMPROVISED CITIES IN THE MODERN WORLD

Description: 
The course examines the formation of the improvised or “informal” city in historical context, consdering this as a global phenomenon, whether framed as slum, shantytown, bidonville, favela, katchi abadi, human settlement, etc. It traces the shifts in design professionals’ conceptions of and responses to the improvised city, ranging from the confident assertions of order expressed by early reform housing and urban renewal projects, to experiments with self-help and design for progressive development, and more recent targeted interventions aimed at achieving incremental improvements or upgrading. While contemporary design projects are generally more modest in scale and more cautious in outlook than the bold gestures of earlier decades, they do not always escape the trap of oversimplified assumptions concerning the logistics, politics, and economics of planned interventions into the urban fabric of informal settlements. Accordingly, these design approaches are contrasted with initiatives that focus on community organization, mapping/enumerating, and land tenure. Finally, the course considers how designers can contribute to devising meaningful solutions for and with residents of these complex and ever-evolving urban environments. The course introduces students to the varied material and spatial forms of improvised built environments, as well as the social and economic conditions underlying their formation and growth. The readings range from primary texts by designers and activists, to evaluation reports by development professionals and theorists, and historical accounts by scholars of architecture and the built environment. The course encourages students to critically analyze these textual and visual accounts of the improvised city, and to carefully assess the various proposals for planned interventions and projects.
Instructors: 
GYGER, HELEN
Day and Time: 
W 0200PM-0500PM
Room: 
FISHER-BENNETT HALL 244
Activity: 
SEM
Cross Listings: 
  • ARTH369401
  • URBS233401
Syllabus: 
  • Major Concentrations: World
  • Major/Minor requirements fulfilled: Seminar