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Urbanism Manual for Precarious Settlements

Urbanism Manual for Precarious Settlements / Manual de Urbanismo para Asentamientos Precarios

Photo of Avi Solomon
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While working with local slum dwellers, a group of architects from the University of Buenos Aires found there was a dearth of material on how best to develop a self-built community, as well as of sources outlining local codes, agencies, and basic rights for inhabitants. The university’s Secretariat of Community Action, formed to strengthen ties with the community through projects, training, advisement, and field work, designed a fully illustrated and annotated Urbanism Manual for Precarious Settlements
Distributed for free, the manual is a compilation of urban, legal, and other invaluable tools to create a healthy, adequate urban environment, such as location relative to geography, infrastructure, and waterways; planning for walkways, roads, housing plots, open space, transportation, and gardens; how to work with government agencies; and listing local and national resources. Sketches made in the field interpret conditions and solutions for new informal settlers and others who may not understand architectural drawings, and real-life testimonies pass on valuable knowledge in organizing improvements to settlements. The workbook is designed to accommodate photocopying to encourage wide distribution. And although it was produced specifically for Buenos Aires, it is also meant to be adapted for other cities. The group works to determine where settlements are emerging and provides the manual to squatters in those locales. Of the one thousand copies printed thus far, 600 have been distributed to mayors, universities, technicians, and organizations working in slums; it is also available free online, filling the gap between a settlement`s rapid construction time and the typically slow government response.

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Photo of Adriana

Thanks for sharing Avi, it is always nice to hear about projects like this in Latin America. It also reminded me of two other projects by one of our favourite urban designers Candy Chang. Tenants’ Rights Flash Cards ( and the Street Vendor Guide (