Urban design and informal settlements: placemaking activities and temporary architectural interventions in BaSECo compound

Francesco Rossini

URBAN DESIGN International

30 August 2021

In Manila, like many regions in the global south, the steady march towards urbanisation has generated an intensive urban landscape of high-rise buildings and large patterns of unplanned and often illegal settlements. Although the Philippine government has formulated several programmes to control the irregular growth of its territory, none of these initiatives has fully addressed the challenge of urban informality. This article examines the initial outcomes of a long-term research plan focused on the development of an upgrading strategy for the informal community of BaSECo in Manila. It describes the preliminary stages of the socio-spatial analysis of the district as well as the participatory process, carried out through a series of studies and feldwork activities that involved students, NGOs and the community itself. The results of this work suggest that ‘actionresearch’ can become a critical tool for experimenting with alternative strategies in the revitalisation of informal settlements.At the same time, this study highlights the importance of using on-site academic activities to develop an integrated approach that blends architectural education and research with raising students’ awareness of the socially responsible application of architecture and urban design.

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