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Architecture & Legitimacy: Strategies for the Development of Urban Informal Settlements

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posted on 23.05.2021, 12:56 authored by Rachel D. Pressick
Currently, 1 in 6 people live in slums, or informal settlements in cities throughout the developing world. They are built illegally and are characterized by lack of proper sanitation, unsafe housing, and crowded living conditions. Despite their appearance, informal settlements are legitimate communities; they are vibrant, with sophisticated social, economic and cultural networks that support the livelihoods of residents who call them home. These communities give the urban poor a physical place within the city, giving them access to the opportunities and advantages that the current age of the 'global city' can offer to any willing participant. As architects who see the responsibility in choosing the informal settlement as a realm for engagement, this thesis proposes that any architectural intervention be mindful of the importance of the networks contained within the streets and buildings of the informal settlement. By preserving the built-fabric of the settlement, the architect legitimizes the settlement's density and scale, while ensuring the urban poor have a physical place in the city. They have managed to develop their own communities without any investment from outside forces, any intervention should only support that autonomous development. These structures, as well as the people and activities with them, are vital to the survival of residents of informal settlements.





Master of Architecture



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Taymoore Balbaa