IDEAS COMPETITION

CONFRONTING INFORMALITY

PRESERVING COMMUNITIES AND CREATING PUBLIC GOODS IN INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS

 CI_Screen Announcement[1]

RESULTS WILL BE ANNOUNCED on JUNE 7th during the symposium.

Why a competition on this topic?

We live in an urban world. According to the United Nations, the world’s population will grow 40% by 2050, and the urban population will double in just 35 years. Urban growth is one of the most complex challenges of our time, especially if we consider that 95% of the fast growing cities of the world are found in developing countries of the Global South. Many governments in developing nations do not have the capacity or the will to plan for such explosive growth.

As a result,  approximately 3 billion people will live in informal settlements by 2050. This means that planners and designers must urgently address problems such as the lack of urban services and infrastructure in informal settlements; but they also need to address topics such as insecurity of tenure, poor accessibility to services and jobs, scarcity of public spaces and above all, the issue of social inclusion. How to confront informality, so that public goods can be delivered to the inhabitants of these settlements? How to make the barriers that divide the ‘informal’ city from the formal one more permeable, in order to achieve social sustainability?

There are no simple answers to these questions, and different solutions can be proposed for different communities in different places.  On September 25th 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda. There are 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), each with specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. TU Delft has incorporated the 17 SDGs in its mission to deliver designers and engineers that will work for  sustainable development everywhere.

To be able to do that, TU Delft focuses on high quality research. The university believes that research can also be done by design. This is why we are launching an international competition of ideas to address the topic of slum upgrading while preserving communities, open to students from any discipline. Innovative solutions, good practices and spatial strategies can therefore be developed and shared by young planners and social activists from all over the world.

What are the challenges we want to address?

There is much discussion about what “urban informality” actually means. For this competition, we understand informal urbanisation as a set of unregulated, unplanned and often illegal ways of building cities that lead to both desirable and undesirable outcomes. Informal settlements usually face tenure issues, lack of access to water and sanitation, little provision of public space, bad housing conditions, weak connection to the transportation networks or long commuting times, among others. Citizens are exposed to urban segregation, high vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change and socio-economic problems, such as violence and crime.

On the other hand, informal settlements are gateways to the city, they allow low-income families to set foot in the city,  build livelihoods and form strong networks of solidarity. They are the result of spontaneous bottom-up processes, in which dwellers negotiate, work and even fight to get a spot in the city. Access to services and public goods, such as housing, commerce or infrastructure, is sometimes achieved and managed through citizens own  work and effort. This is spatially translated into vibrant areas with intense public life, in which many activities and uses coexist, creating an interrelated social fabric and a strong sense of belonging.

Slum-upgrading or urban renewal programs are developed in order to provide accessibility to better urban standards and public goods. Nevertheless, planning often doesn’t manage to keep the diverse and intense public life of informal settlements. Relocation of people living in risk-prone or vulnerable sites may even generate displacement of citizens to other areas in the city, breaking their social and working ties.

Is it possible for these top-down planning programs to incorporate bottom up processes, while empowering communities? Is it possible to keep the flexibility and variety of informal communities and provide access to public goods at the same time? How can relocation of citizens in vulnerable areas be tackled without displacement?

These are the topics we want to address in the ideas competition, in order to raise awareness and promote debate. If you wish to know more about the challenge of slums according to UN-Habitat, please visit: https://unhabitat.org/wp-content/uploads/2003/07/GRHS_2003_Chapter_01_Revised_2010.pdf

Who can participate?

  1. The competition is open to students from all over the world, up to 33 years of age (with proof of identity).
  2. Even though the competition is being launched by the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of the TU Delft, we believe that the problem of informality should be addressed in a multidisciplinary way. We encourage teams to be composed by members from different backgrounds, and not only by architects or planners.
  3. Teams must be composed by a minimum of two (2) participants and maximum of five (5) participants. Participants may be from different countries and from different schools.
  4. Submission must be accompanied by payment of a 20 euros fee via PayPal.
  5. Submissions must follow templates and recommended formats rigorously.

Registration and Fees: 20 euros per group

Payments for registering teams in the competition are made through the ‘Confronting Informality’ web page portal. A team is not officially registered until they complete the payment process. Following registration each team will receive a confirmation email with a code. This number is the only means of identifying teams during the jury selection process. The number is necessary for the submission. There are no refunds once the registration is completed.

Rules of the game

Confronting Informality 2018 is an  IDEAS COMPETITION. All teams must deliver a proposal to improve the living environment of an actual informal settlement in a city of the Global South. The proposals will also point out the specific positive characteristics of the area, explaining how those will be preserved or enhanced.

Proposals could be developed as a specific spatial project, or as an innovative land tenure or governance policy. In all cases, teams must address and detail the impact of the proposal in the spatial conditions of the neighborhood. This will be done through drawings, maps, pictures, collages or diagrams.

The site for intervention can be chosen by each team, but it must fulfill the characteristics explained before: “(…) we understand informal urbanisation as a set of unregulated, unplanned and often illegal ways of building cities that lead to both desirable and undesirable outcomes. Informal settlements usually have very low urban standards: lack of access to water and sanitation, little provision of public space, bad housing conditions, weak connection to the transportation networks or long commuting times, among others. They are exposed to urban segregation, high vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change and socio-economic problems, such as violence and crime.”  Alternatively, you can read this document by UN-Habitat: http://mirror.unhabitat.org/documents/media_centre/sowcr2006/SOWCR%205.pdf

The scale of the settlement can vary according to each team’s interest. The methodology of the proposal must be readable and clear. This is the main way in which this competition can foster the debate on slum upgrading. Remember: your city probably has a policy or projects: it is highly desirable that you “converse” with these policies or projects, either criticizing or complementing them. It is also highly desirable that you converse with real stakeholders: grassroots leaders, community leaders, politicians, developers, member of the planning office of your city, citizens… somehow, you must incorporate their ideas in your proposal. We are not looking for good ideas only, we are looking for ideas that are embedded in real governance structures and that take the wishes of real stakeholders into account.

Specific guidelines or process diagrams should illustrate the methodology in each case. Each proposal must include a description of the site before and after the implementation of the project or policy, showing what’s the impact on the living environment.

For more detailed information on the deliverables of the competition, see “Brochure Template”.

Confronting Informality Poster

 

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