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architexts ISSN 1809-6298


Este artigo trata da articulação entre dois ambitos discursivos, a habitação informal e a sustentabilidade, dentro da teoria e prática arquitetônica a partir da dêcada de 1960.

This article comments upon the shared discourse of the two areas of informal housing and sustainability within architectural practice and discourse since the 1960s.

Este artículo trata de la articulación entre dos ámbitos discursivos, la vivienda informal y la sostenibilidad, dentro de la teoría y práctica arquitectónica desde la década de 1960.

how to quote

TAYLOR KLEIN, Christine. The Old Story of a ‘New’ Imperative. Sustainability and Informal Housing within Architectural Discourse. Arquitextos, São Paulo, year 12, n. 141.07, Vitruvius, feb. 2012 <>.

The architectural profession is entering a critical stage.  We must establish our legitimacy or become relics of a past era.  It seems that the two main concerns of contemporary architectural discourse have emerged: environmental sustainability and growing level of informal settlements among the increasing number of urban poor.  Each of these issues has attracted its advocates— scholars and practitioners who declare their devotion to one or the other.  And, while both issues are immediately relevant and require attention, the problem is the tendency of architects to address each as a separate issue.  A solution to one cannot be achieved without the strong consideration of the other.

A thorough study of the trends of these topics within the field – one which determines the rise and fall of their popularity over the past five decades – will immediately reveal that they each have been either lauded or neglected at similar points along the way. The hope is that sustainability, as a new and quickly expanding field within architecture, may in the future provide a contemporary framework for architectural inquiry that will allow for the inclusion of informal settlements, reintroducing this form of popular architecture back into the canon of works deemed worthy of academic consideration.

The levels of engagement that architects and planners have maintained with issues of informality and sustainability over the years [Graphic by Author]

For decades, the marginalization of slum settlements was fairly established as an architectural doctrine; early 20thcentury modernism only served to reinforce the perceived inadequacy of informality.  As the global rates of urbanization begin to rise, informal settlements become more pervasive.  This coincided with the decline of modernist hegemony and the emergence of the more intellectual and formal pursuits of early postmodernism.  In the 1960s and 1970s, the collective movement within architectural practice and theory became interested in the “liberation of the human experience from the constraints of the status quo,” and attempted to find social and moral authenticity in the historical origins of architectural form.(1)  This allowed a new generation of emerging practitioners and academics to explore the validity and rationality of informal housing as well as vernacular forms.  Parallel to this was an increasing urgency in environmental concerns that was catalyzed by the 1973 oil crisis and a new global understanding of architecture’s profound ecological impact.  The 1980s, however, signified a striking lapse in these concerns.  Oil prices settled, the economy entered a short bout of prosperity, and political efforts all but abandoned low-income housing policy. Further exacerbating this lapse within architectural discourse were the increasingly superficial and stylistic pursuits of what may be considered “high postmodernism,” which focused upon the absolute authority of the architect as form-maker and abandoned the environmental responsiveness of vernacular design.  Only in the 1990s did this poststructural formalism begin to be criticized, and, since that time, architectural endeavors have gradually begun to realign with the earlier priorities of lower-class housing concerns and sustainable building practices.

For decades, these two topics have followed similar trends of popularity and omission within architectural pursuits, waxing and waning in response to prevailing trends of theory and practice.  Oftentimes the topics have been addressed as separate issues: informality has always been a concern of the lower class, while sustainability has been relegated to a pursuit of luxury for the bourgeoisie.  But this divide is a construct, and architects have, at times, addressed these issues simultaneously.  The results of these efforts were always groundbreaking and remarkable.

Early histories

The early reactions of municipal authorities toward squatter settlements range from resistance to outright eradication as the perception of criminal activity and unsanitary conditions proliferated.  These communities were viewed as uncontrollable, unsanitary, dangerous, and disorganized as they often operated outside of social and economic mechanics of the cities from which they grew. For centuries, city planning had been dominated by Beaux-Arts ideals of hierarchy and axiality.  The city was typically viewed as a living organism, capable of growth and productivity but vulnerable to disease and disfigurement.  Within the rigidity and idealism of this system, no concessions were given to informal and slum settlements, which were approached with disdain by planners and oftentimes became targets for campaigns of eradication.

Myths and Misunderstandings

Architectural historian David Underwood reveals this derision toward the settlements as late as 1930 when he recounts the contempt that French architect and urbanist Alfred Agache held for the favelas, or informal settlements, of Brazil.  Trained in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Agache compared the city to a biological organism, and within this analogy, the favelas were equated with unhealthy, malignant tissue.  His was a positivist approach that had its roots in Baron Haussmann’s urban surgeries. When designing the master plan of Rio de Janeiro, Agache believed that “the response of the urbanist is to […] ‘target’ the ‘unhealthy’ areas for surgical ‘strikes’ and to intervene clinically to dissociate the ‘healthy’ tissue from the sick.”(2) He envisioned a spatial segregation according to social stratification, whereby the hillside favela residents would be relocated to the periphery of the city in socialized satellite neighborhoods while the hills were reclaimed by Rio’s elite class. 

Agache’s plan for Rio reflects his Beaux-Arts urbanist ideals [Alfred Agache, Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, 1930]

The approaches of liquidation and relocation, largely based upon classical formal ideals, persisted throughout the following decades with alarming consistency. Haussmann’s theories paved the way for numerous slum clearance projects in the future, all of which were completed under the guise of “urban renewal.”  In the case of New York, the 1949 Federal Housing Act, under the supervision of Robert Moses, provided federal financing for slum clearance programs associated with urban renewal projects in American cities, replacing slum housing with high-rise housing blocks.  Although Moses’s developments would lead to a more effective transportation system and the creation of several quality public spaces, he is often and perhaps rightfully vilified as racist and autocratic, who was known to say, “to make an omelet you have to break eggs.”(3)

Even Le Corbusier, another of Moses’s heroes, was not exempt from the appeal of massive urban organization, as evidenced in the model cities envisioned by his planning organization, Congrès internationaux d'architecture moderne, or CIAM.  James Holston, in his critical assessment of Brasilia, points out the persistence of such beliefs:

It cannot be doubted that [the] Haussmannization of European capitals greatly influenced CIAM planning.  Le Corbusier admired the baron for bringing a measure of geometric order to Paris and for using a scheme of broad avenues to unite isolated areas of the city – two paramount principles in CIAM doctrine.  Haussmann himself provided a model for the CIAM planner: technocrat, engineer, ‘surgeon’; incorruptible and autocratic.(4)

In The Athens Charter, CIAM’s document on planning, one can again see the persistence of the notion that cities can be equated to organisms, and within this organic analogy, slums are conceptualized as unwanted growths.  When considering the detrimental effects of rapid urban growth in European cities, Le Corbusier falls upon the old metaphors: “[t]he monstrous growth of worker tenements created ‘cesspools’ of tuberculosis and cholera.  As the urban periphery of slums expanded ‘contagiously,’ the city spread into the countryside ‘like a disease.’”(5)

Eradication attempts were bolstered by a growing popularity of the notion that informal settlements and their inhabitants, within their urban context, held “marginal” roles: they were somehow inferior, either socially, politically, physically, or spatially.(6) Oscar Lewis embodied these ideas with his concept of the “culture of poverty,” a facet of marginality theory that repositioned the responsibility for poverty to the impoverished, who had developed their economic status into a mechanized, self-perpetuating cultural identity.(7) The poor, according to Lewis, were unwilling to participate in their own upward mobility and were therefore unable to integrate into the formal social realm.  Though his theory of the “culture of poverty” continued to inform housing policy and welfare programs, largely to their detriment, there was an enormous outcry against this concept and others like it; indeed, it was many of Lewis’s critics who would distinguish themselves during the 1960s as strong proponents of informal settlements.

The 1960s: new investigations

The 1960s began to see a shift in the mode of thinking that would allow for vigorous discussion of both informality and sustainability.  The drab, sanitized aesthetic of postwar modernism was increasingly associated with social oppression and restriction.  This led to an increasingly persistent criticism of modernist codifications: those structures of marginalization that promoted the destruction of squatter housing in favor of bleak, monolithic apartment blocks.  As continued attempts to restrict, demolish, or infiltrate informal settlements were consistently met with failure, the academic community began to study squatter settlements not as cancerous formations within the urban fabric, but instead as viable solutions to the seemingly unsolvable problem of inadequate housing for the poor.

Rudofsky as an Early Catalyst

Bernard Rudofsky’s 1964 MoMA exhibition Architecture Without Architects differentiated itself from the discourse of its time as an intellectual counterpart to the unquestioned authority of the architect as the only valid form-giver.  The exhibit and its accompanying publication provided images of a rich history of building cultures across the world that operated entirely outside of the professional design practice.  It gave credence to the notion that owner-built communities were a perfectly valid form of architectural and social development, an important underlying assumption in the support of informal settlements.  But Rudofsky’s exhibition not only provided impetus for the architectural legitimacy of vernacular, owner-built structures; it also showed insight into longstanding methods of passive cooling and heating techniques in various parts of the world, insight that may well have likely informed the forthcoming eco-design movement.

For the purposes of assembling a dual history of informal housing and sustainability, this exhibit provides an invaluable departure point for both topics.  An ardent traveller and an outspoken critic of modernist dogma, Rudofsky sought to step outside of the dogmatic architectural history of “a full-dress pageant of ‘formal’ architecture, as arbitrary a way of introducing the art of building as, say dating the birth of music with the advent of the symphony orchestra.”(8) This was an attempt to realign the history of the field with its truer origins, and with this came the harsh truth that architects had little to do with the beginnings of architecture.(9)

An example of ‘movable architecture’ [Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture. Unive]

The 1970s: awareness, investigation, and inclusion

The efforts of Rudofsky and his contemporaries were a foundation for the fast-paced setting of investigation and revelation during the 1970s under the direction of groundbreaking new theories of housing by John Turner, Rolf Goetze, John Goodman, and others. The trend of interest in informal and slum housing began to take hold as an imperative among architectural pursuits, particularly within the academic realm, and there is no greater example of this paradigm shift than the MIT-Harvard Joint Center for Urban Studies.  Created in 1959 and funded through the Ford Foundation, the Joint Center provided opportunities and support for many of the academics and researchers that are discussed in the following chapters.  While the efforts of the various planners and architects at these universities were oftentimes autonomous and without mutual participation, they nevertheless converged at this specific location and point in time, suggesting that the universities served as invaluable catalysts for this discussion and line of thought.

Establishing the legitimacy of informality

As early as 1963, John Turner began contributing to the architectural discourse the notion that participatory, or self-built, housing was a legitimate and valuable building typology.  Turner’s values were significant among architectural planning theorists because they were the results of his training in architectural theory as well as his empirical research as an urbanist in Peru, where he gathered formal, morphological, and socio-economical data of an area.  It is important to distinguish Turner’s argument for self-built housing from Robert Goodman’s notion of advocacy planning.(10) While both proposals sought to de-marginalize the poor and provide a basis for more suitable housing situations, Goodman’s policy still involved the active participation of expert professionals, such as planners and architects, who acted as mediators between the inhabitants and any municipal authorities that might offer assistance.  Turner’s position was a bit more idealized and perhaps a bit more radical.  He remained highly skeptical of the ability for any external organization, governmental or otherwise, to intervene effectively in the development of informal communities.  For these communities to organize and grow effectively, they needed to maintain a level of potentiality and spontaneity; this would ensure the developmental process of “housing as a verb.”(11)

Turner was certainly not the first to discover the inherent value of self-help housing, but his work has become indispensable to the architectural discourse on informality because of his background and education within the field.  His knowledge and beliefs were cultivated amidst the urban musings of such early theorists as Patrick Geddes and Lewis Mumford, who touted small-scaled, owner-involved levels of community development. According to Richard Harris, Turner’s work has stayed so potent and influential throughout the decades because his arguments were anchored upon three basic beliefs that have remained constant throughout his career.  They are: (1) the notion that self-help has value; (2) the role of the government is to assist owner-builders; and (3) squatter settlements are solutions, not problems, and one should maintain faith in the rationality of the poor.(12)

The ecological imperative

This enormous increase in the perceived validity of informal housing in the early 1970s coincided with the introduction of another significant topic in architectural discourse: that of environmentally conscious architecture.  For the most part, what few environmental concerns there were within architectural design at the beginning of the 1970s were limited to holdovers from the counter-culture movement of the previous decade.  One exception is the book Design for the Real World, in which author and designer Victor Papanek was the first to position ecological and environmental issues as the social responsibility of the designer. (13) Papanek was intensely critical of wasteful design and production.  He was the first to demand that designers recognize their social and moral responsibilities as well as the long-term and broad-ranging effects of their poor design choices.  The success of his book was profound, as it was popular not only within his field of industrial design, but also among other designers, such as architects and planners, and even among environmentalists.

But it was undoubtedly the 1973 oil crisis that moved environmentalism from the realm of the idealist to that of the technical professional, prompting a sudden interest in environmentally aware and energy-efficient architecture.  During OPEC’s six-month oil embargo, the price of crude oil nearly quadrupled in the United States, and the economic consequences were disasterous.  The following year, a group of practicing architects released a book entitled A Bucket of Oil: The Humanistic Approach to Building Design for Energy Conservation.  It was an immediate response to the implications of the energy crisis and included specific strategies, often accompanied by hand drawn diagrams, for creating affordable, universal architectural conditions that minimize energy use.  The authors, headed by Bill Caudill with Texas A&M University, emphasized an immediate need for the design profession to react to a new mandate of sustainability: “Buildings consume an incredible amount of energy, about one third of all the energy used in [the United States].  About forty percent of that energy is wasted.”(14)

For the remainder of the 1970s, numerous architectural publications continued to investigate energy efficiency in buildings, each one seeking to educate fellow practitioners in a number of passive strategies.  At the end of the decade, there developed a new category of literature that was aimed solely at the architectural practitioner.  These publications may be considered sustainability pattern books; each of them provided sketches and explanations of various methods for decreasing energy consumption and increasing climatic responsiveness.  Several of the books were self-proclaimed “primers” aimed at providing simple and easily read sketches of generic passive techniques that may be applied to a variety of architectural forms.(15)They would include rudimentary breakdowns of the most typical passive sustainable techniques: sun path charts, ventilation diagrams, glazing strategies, geothermal techniques, thermal massing, and more.  They have a casual approach, often promoting rule-of-thumb or anecdotal strategies, and for this reason are often overlooked as the crucial arbiters of sustainability that they certainly were; practitioners and emerging professionals oftentimes found this humble, almost cartoonish method of communication to be enormously appealing in its simplicity and applicability. 

The 1980s: a dearth of discourse

At the start of the 1980s, the interest in environmental architecture waned substantially, as did the architectural community’s concern for the economic potential and citizenship rights of squatters and the formalistic and planning qualities of their communities.  Undoubtedly, there were strong political and economic reasons for this lapse, reasons that might explain why architecture abandoned these issues while other fields, such as anthropology and sociology, continued to engage with them.  More than likely, the sociopolitical shift of neoliberalism under the Reagan and Thatcher administrations was a strong catalyst for this lapse.  The market-driven approach to political and social policy left little room for the concerns of the impoverished, and investigations of low-income housing were abruptly defunded.  According to anthropologist Peter Ward, a shift toward the macroeconomics of a globalized free-market led to economic crisis, particularly in developing countries, that cast the 1980s as “the ‘lost decade,’ since social development programs were so badly eroded by the combination of political and economic restructuring that took place.”(16)

While social issues of the urban poor fell to the wayside, so did the environmental concerns that had become so relevant in the 1970s. The solar panels on the White House that had been installed in the late 1970s by the Carter administration in a symbolic response to the energy crisis were dismantled in 1986 under Reagan’s order.  Within this political climate, architectural discussions became less about environmental impact and more about economic efficiency.  As the price for crude oil began to steadily decline throughout the decade, so did the demand for energy-efficient design.  Within architectural discourse, there was a consuming interest in theoretical and formalistic pursuits of study.  Within architectural practice, the ruling force was economic pragmatism.

This decline in sustainable architectural responsiveness belies the fact that the public awareness of environmental concerns was continuing to grow.  Several ecological disasters, namely the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in 1986, and the Exxon Valdese oil spill of 1989, only sharpened the environmental concerns of the mainstream.  All the while, architectural discourse remained largely unengaged.

The great potential for vernacular architecture to align itself with passive systems and ecological sensitivity was lost amidst an increasing concern for the formal implications of vernacular as a style.  Early concepts of vernacular architecture, like those promoted in Rudofsky’s exhibition and Frampton’s later publications, began to take on a more ornamental role within postmodern buildings.  Though vernacularism and attention to locality was lauded as a strong element within the designs of architects like Michael Graves and Robert Venturi, “the postmodern use of regionalism rarely extends beyond surface image.”(17) Instead, the stylistic concerns precluded consideration of basic elements such as climate, ventilation, and solar orientation in favor of a unified, homogenized sensibility of the so-called vernacular.  The pretentions of postmodernism would not evaporate overnight, yet there grew an increasing awareness that the hegemony of materialistic and formal pursuits would need to be challenged. 

The 1990s to present: architecture reacquaints itself with the Issues

Of course, the phase of formal fetishism during the 1980s would prove largely temporary, and the turn of the decade brought with it the new environmentalist buzzword: sustainability.  In the 1990s, the importance of sustainable efforts within architectural practice became more pronounced with each passing year, and the invention of new technologies ensured perpetual invention and discovery as architecture assumed the task of social and environmental responsibility.

In 1987, the United Nations established the World Commission on Environment and Development, now known simply as the Brundtland Report. It is here that the term “sustainability” is first introduced as not only an ecological but also a social imperative.  The report also spoke of a need for addressing the poor; one of its two key concepts of sustainable development was “the concept of ‘needs’, in particular the essential needs of the world’s poor, to which overriding priority should be given.”(18) In the early 1990s, William McDonough’s Hannover Principles would align the sustainability effort with contemporary architectural pursuits, extending the implications of the Brundtland Report into the built environment. 

With the reemerging attention to sustainability there was also a renewed interest in studying informal settlements from an architectural perspective, although it came about at a markedly slower pace.

Recently, discussions of informality among architectural theorists seem to fall within two distinct main categories:  the more positive view of informality as a possible form-generator for designers, or the more pessimistic, almost apocalyptic, stance that slums and informal developments are the new invasive design model of the planet.

Informal settlements get the formal treatment

Peter Kellett has written extensively on the topic of informality, arguing for the competence of the occupants of informal settlements and the ingenuity with which they construct their own homes.  While studying the squatter settlements of Santa Marta, Colombia, Kellett described an incremental process of construction that began with the illegal and oftentimes violent invasion of a plot of land and then, over time, became transformed in accordance with the changing situation of the owner-builder.  The eventual outcome of this process was an architecture that extended beyond the mere functionalism of shelter and safety, becoming a medium upon which the inhabitants continually imparted meaning.  In this way, the dwelling unit was a physical manifestation of the aspirations and goals of its owner, so much so that the iterations of construction may be focused upon improvement of the aesthetic rather than that of the shelter itself.(19)

It is interesting to compare Kellett’s argument for the legitimacy of informal settlements with those of the sixties and seventies.  Decades ago, architectural researchers such as John Turner provided insight into the legitimacy of informality by portraying the houses as inevitable outcomes of the immediate economic and cultural realities of the poor who occupied them.  Turner, in particular, promoted the owner-builder as uniquely qualified to meet his own needs through incremental construction, and he maintained faith in the rationality of the poor.  The form of a squatter home could therefore be understood as the physical representation of an occupant’s varying geographical, economic, and social situations.

Kellett, however, saw value in these settlements beyond Turner’s localized criteria.  He argued that the physical forms are imbued with meaning and charged with memory, and oftentimes they extend beyond the inhabitant’s pragmatic rationality in which Turner has placed so much faith.  Instead, the informal house becomes the imposition of an image, one that aspires to a formalized aesthetic of success and prosperity long before it is actually achieved.

Fernando Lara would make a similar argument while investigating the construction techniques and aesthetic choices of self-built housing in Brazil. Like Kellett, he reacted against the notion that informality is inherently chaotic and haphazard.  Instead, the favelas in Brazil, when viewed at the scale of the housing unit, encompass a “logic behind the accumulation of volumes.”(20) In fact, these units, rather than merely copying the applied decoration of middle-class homes, have adopted the modernist tenets that underscore them.  Construction is often based upon a Corbusian system of pilotis and slabs of reinforced concrete, likely due to the affordability of materials and clarity of construction, but also to the modern aesthetic that pervades Brazil’s architectural heritage. Even without the participation of architects, the dissemination of modern styles and components are maintained at the level of squatter housing. 

These discussions by architects are significant because they extended the influence and implications of informality beyond basic studies of materiality, economy, and rationality, into the realm of architectural theory: commoditization, place-making, imbedded memory, and public image.


Beyond the formal interpretations of architectural investigations into informal settlements, many other fields of researchers are providing insights into these communities that appeal to a broader audience.  In some cases, however, reports on the current conditions of slum settlements borders on sensationalism, and the implications of this approach within the architectural community should be considered.

Mike Davis’s Planet of Slums, published in 2006, is perhaps one of the most popular and controversial texts on contemporary informal settlements.  The book provides countless staggering statistics on the current state of poverty and the rapidity of unsupported urbanization; Davis bolstered these with focused case studies of individual slum communities. 

While Davis’s work may be fostering a more mainstream awareness of the vast expansion of informal settlements, it often evokes the possibility of a future that may seem frighteningly bleak and fatalistic.  Davis, in particular, employs vivid, dramatic imagery that seems to incite dread: “Instead of cities of light soaring toward heave, much of the twenty-first century urban world squats in squalor, surrounded by pollution, excrement, and decay.”(21) One critic claimed that Davis’s “apocalyptic rhetoric feeds into longstanding anti-urban fears about working people who live in cities.”(22) The danger of this method is the possible negative reaction that often accompanies fear and misunderstanding of slum settlements.(23) Decades ago, John Turner and his colleagues worked diligently to reveal the entrepreneurial and aspirational motivations behind self-built housing in hopes of de-stigmatizing the settlements and their inhabitants.  One would hope that the colorful descriptions and alarming statistics of contemporary writers would not return readers to the more antiquated stances on the urban poor.

Looking Forward: Where Will the Profession Go From Here?

It is a confounding fact that the issues of informal dwellings and sustainability have diverged so drastically as to establish their own independent historiographies.  As Michael Garrison points out, architectural curriculums have long been concerned with “the need for shelter and the effects of climate on human environments.”(24) One possible explanation for this divide is that future attempt to unify efforts of sustainability and informality seem to be at odds with one another at their most basic assumptions.  The goal of any architectural discussions of informality is to provide the most impoverished of people with the means and the opportunities to lift themselves out of that poverty.  This social mobility is, at its most basic level, antithetical to the base arguments of most environmentalists.

The two issues of informal housing and sustainability must engage with one another in future architectural research and discourse.  Sustainable efforts, both at the level of a building and that of larger, overarching systems, that do not address the issue of informal housing are ignoring a growing condition that will within fifty years encompass one third of the world’s population. From the other end, informal housing has the potential to engage with sustainability efforts in a more immediate and instinctive manner, bypassing the phases of industrialization and (wasteful expansion), aspects that continue to burden developed countries to this day.  This historiographical overview of these two topics exposes that preoccupation with formalism and failure to address social imperatives have, in the past, hindered architecture’s ability to engage with these issues.  For now, the discourse must realign itself with a more comprehensive and urgent discussion of these issues to determine the possible solutions therein.


This article is the first of a series about Latin American modern architecture, written by group LAMA (Latin American Modern Architecture) from University of Texas at Austin, under the coordination of Prof. Fernando Luiz Lara.

Jorge Otero-Pailos, Architecture’s historical turn : phenomenology and the rise of the postmodern (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2010), xi.

David K. Underwood, “Alfred Agache, French Sociology, and Modern Urbanism in France and Brazil,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 50, no. 2 (June 1991): 157.

For more on this, see the publication that accompanied the exhibition series: Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York, 1st ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2007).

James Holston, The Modernist city: an anthropological critique of Brasilia. Revised edition of a doctoral thesis (University of Chicago Press, 1989).


Definition taken from Peter M. Ward, “The Lack of ‘Cursive Thinking’ within Social Theory and Public Policy: Four Decades of Marginality and Rationality in the So-Called Slum,” in Rethinking Development in Latin America, ed. Charles H. Wood and Bryan R. Roberts (Penn State Press, 2005), 276.

See introduction to Oscar Lewis, La Vida, 1st ed. (México, D.F: Editorial Grijalbo, 1983).

Bernard Rudofsky, Architecture Without Architects: A Short Introduction to Non-Pedigreed Architecture (University of New Mexico Press, 1964).

In 1969, John Mass wrote an article for JSAH that criticized the journal for its Eurocentricism and adherence to the formal, bourgeoise canon of architecture.  He pointed to Rudofsky’s book as a singular revelation of a global architecture, and mentions that JSAH never published a review of it.  See John Maass, “Where Architectural Historians Fear to Tread,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 28, no. 1 (March 1, 1969): 3-8.

See Robert Goodman, After the planners. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971).

See JFC Turner, “Housing as a Verb,” in Freedom to Build; Dweller Control of the Housing Process, ed. JFC Turner and Fichter Robert (New York: Macmillan, 1972), 148.

Richard Harris, “A double irony: the originality and influence of John F.C. Turner,” Habitat International 27, no. 2 (June 2003): 245-269.

For more on this, as well as a historiography of environmentalism within design, see Pauline Madge, “Design, Ecology, Technology: A Historiographical Review,” Journal of Design History 6, no. 3 (1993): 149-166.

William Wayne Caudill, Frank D. Lawyer, and Thomas A. Bullock, A Bucket of Oil: The Humanistic Approach for Building Design for Energy Conservation, First Edition. (Cahners Books, 1974), 8.

A few examples of these “primers” are: David Wright, Natural solar architecture: a passive primer (Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., 1978); David A Bainbridge, Village Homes’ Solar House Designs: A Collection of 43 Energy-Conscious House Designs (Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Press, 1979); Allan Konya, Design primer for hot climates (Architectural Press, 1980).

Ward, “The Lack of ‘Cursive Thinking’ within Social Theory and Public Policy: Four Decades of Marginality and Rationality in the So-Called Slum,” 284.

Mary McLeod, “Architecture and Politics in the Reagan Era: From Postmodernism to Deconstructivism,” Assemblage, no. 8 (February 1, 1989): 23-59.

World Commission on Environment and Development, Our Common Future.

Felipe Hernández, Mark Millington, and Iain Borden, Transculturation: Cities, Spaces and Architectures in Latin America (Rodopi, 2005).

Hernández and Kellett, Rethinking the Informal City: Critical Perspectives from Latin America.

Mike Davis, Planet of Slums (Verso, 2006), 19.

Tom Angotti, “Apocalyptic anti-urbanism: Mike Davis and his planet of slums,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 30.4 (December 2006): 961.

For more on this, see the section “Why do the Favelas seem so Scary?” in Fernando Luiz Lara, “Beyond Curitiba: The rise of a participatory model for urban intervention in Brazil,” Urban Design International 15, no. 2 (June 2010): 119-128.

Garrison, Michael, “History of the Sustainable Design Program, 1973-2010,” in Traces and Trajectories: The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture at 100, ed. Richard Louis Cleary (Austin, Tex: University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, 2010), 124.

about the author

Christine Taylor Klein has received an MA in Architectural History from the University of Texas at Austin and an MArch from Louisiana State University.  Her research focuses on various informal housing practices and their design implications for future low-cost housing efforts. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor at the School of Architecture and Design at Lovely Professional University in India.


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original: english



141.00 história

Uma nova proposta de abordagem da história da arquitetura brasileira

Carlos Alberto Cerqueira Lemos

141.01 crítica

A lógica na arquitetura

Bruno Roberto Padovano

141.02 artes plásticas

Estranhas paisagens

Marta Bogéa

141.03 cinema

Coriolano, nosso contemporâneo

Shakespeare pelas lentes de Ralph Fiennes

Slavoj Žižek

141.04 design

Cabeça, mãos e alma

Reflexões sobre design e artesanato na América Latina

Adélia Borges

141.05 arte e cultura

O Ca’ d’Oro nas góticas águas de Veneza

Adson Cristiano Bozzi Ramatis Lima

141.06 obra de arquiteto

Hans Broos

Singularidades do pensamento e da obra de um mestre

Karine Daufenbach


Urbanidade e a qualidade da cidade

Douglas Aguiar


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