Social and Physical Segregation in Latin American Cities

By René Davids.

Published by The International Journal of the Constructed Environment

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There are many complex relationships between formal and informal cities in Latin America, but most literature on the subject emphasizes social, economic, historical, geographical and political processes in isolation, rather than as integral parts of dynamic urban histories. The evolution over four centuries of the original Spanish colonial grid and plaza settlements to mega-cities where sprawling informal neighborhoods are located in close proximity to natural and human-created hazards which threaten to destroy them is a dramatic story of urban transformation. In recent years, strategies for addressing the concerns raised by informal settlements have shifted away from large-scale slum clearance and relocations to on-site upgrades and improvements with the goal of eventually integrating them with their larger urban contexts. As the examples of Medellín, Rio de Janeiro, Caracas and Buenos Aires illustrate, a comprehensive but locally responsive architecture that combines local commitment with political and professional leadership can overcome physical and cultural obstacles to significantly improve community life.

Keywords: Latin America, Informal Housing, Environmental Degradation

The International Journal of the Constructed Environment, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.101-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 13.094MB).

René Davids

Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, Department of Architecture, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

René Davids, FAIA (born Santiago, Chile) received his bachelor of architecture degree from the Universidad de Chile and on a British Council Fellowship, a master’s degree in environmental design from the Royal College of Art in London. He headed a Diploma School Unit at the Architectural Association School for eight years and also taught at the Royal College of Art and the Macintosh School in Glasgow. Before becoming Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at the University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design he taught architecture at the University of California, San Diego, the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago and the University of New Mexico. René Davids is Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Chile. He was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and a Progressive Architecture Award for research on the hillside elevators of Valparaíso, Chile and is currently working on a book that examines the relationship between technology, topography and urbanism in selected South American cities.