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Informal/formal morphologies

Dovey, Kim and Kamalipour, Hesam ORCID: 2018. Informal/formal morphologies. Dovey, Kim, Pafka, Elek and Ristic, Mirjana, eds. Mapping Urbanities: Morphologies, Flows, Possibilities, Abingdon and New York: Routledge, pp. 223-248. (10.4324/9781315309163-13)

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Much has been made of the fact that most of the global population is now urban. It is not so often noted that most of this new urban population has been accommodated through the expansion of informal settlements or slums in the developing world. Informal architecture, urban design and planning are the primary means by which cities have absorbed most rural-to-urban migration over the past half-century. We define such settlements as ‘informal’ because they emerge outside the formal codes of the state in terms of land tenure, urban planning, design and construction. The label ‘informal’ is also used to avoid terms with overlapping meanings, like ‘slum’ and ‘squatter’. The distinctions between these three terms are important. Informal settlements can be defined as those where the design, planning and construction of buildings and street networks emerges without authorisation by the state (Roy and AlSayyad 2004). A slum is defined by the UN as a dwelling that lacks basic access to light, space, air, water, sanitation, security or durability (UN-Habitat 2006: 19). Squatting is settlement that occurs without the authorisation of the legal owner. Many dwellings within so-called ‘slums’ do not fit the UN definition and standards of construction can be quite high (Hernandez and Kellett 2010). Likewise, tenure is often ambiguous, irregular and contested, with many forms of de facto tenure (Durand-Lasserve and Royston 2002). Many informal settlements are established by ‘pirate’ developers on private land with quasi-legal tenure. Such ‘between’ conditions are typical: slums becoming upgraded; squatters becoming tenured; informal settlements becoming formalised; and formal settlements becoming informalised. Our thinking, analysis and action on this nexus of issues needs to move beyond the somewhat essentialised concepts of slums, squatters and informal settlements.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
Schools: Geography and Planning (GEOPL)
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781138233607
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 07:50

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