in Places

The Informals

In super generalized terms, by 2030, there will be nearly eight billion people on the earth. About two billion will live in informal settlements throughout the world. Almost one billion people live in those distinctive and creative enough to become projects for investigation.

There are many settlements to discover, and that is your task. Find colleagues and share a phrase from the poetry of Octavio Paz describing the sprawling urban landscape of Mexico City as “a paradise of cages.” Is that an excellent description as well as carefully judgmental? However, a visit to SenseableMIT reveals a different assessment. The tech invasion of Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro is a unique form of physical research. The MIT site (here) and well worth your time.

The Well Known

The most unwieldy and well-known places are connected to major cities such as Accra (Agbogbloshie), Mumbai (Dharavi), Cape Town (Joe Slovo), and Mexico City (The Favelas, un paraíso de las jaulas). Other settlements within the developed world are far more challenging to locate and define for a cause other than “it’s the best we seem able to do.” As with any other type of constraint, a cage reveals creativity. That, too, is discoverable in the examples below.

Dharavi @ Mumbai

Dharavi slum was founded in 1882 during the British colonial era. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For the context, go to a Google Map.

Agbogbloshie @ Accura

Agbogbloshie is a former wetland known as the dump for locally used electronics from the City of Accra. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For context, go to Google Maps.

Rocinha @ Rio

Rochina is the largest favela in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro’s South Zone between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea. For added detail, see Wikipedia. For additional context, go to Google Maps. Finally, go to the MIT links above for more detail regarding the 4D video sketch below.


Sustain this question. How and why are cities producers of homelessness and displacement? List the goals and objectives of a detailed analysis of the cages. Is the conversion of a favela into an explorable fourth dimension, a metaverse, a helpful exercise? How easily could they be made safe and secure? Does the known and possible richness of economic degeneracy of presumed physical decadence produce a quality of life for those who choose to stay, can leave or are willing to return to invest?

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