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Handmade Urbanism showcases 15 projects realized in five major cities in emerging countries, and examines the potential of urban transformation embedded in community-driven initiatives. What is the basis of these initiatives? Which instruments and tools do they use? Illustrations depict their operational modes, reveal the actors involved and trace the steps made in their organization. Interviews with different stakeholders clarify specific responses to local challenges and at a global level, common threads and differences are made clear. Handmade Urbanism drafts a possible vision of a future shaped by these processes, and explores their potential to impact on the city at large. The publication includes the documentary Urban Future, which provides the reader with deeper insight into the workings of community-driven initiatives.


Handmade Urbanism

Increasingly, people are taking responsibility for their cities and engaging in improving their environments. Often operating outside of traditional planning culture, they call for different actors to construct a new urban paradigm driven by proactive attitudes and participation. They make use of limited resources, offering solutions to the challenges these cities present. They focus on the provision of social infrastructure, and can be observed to improve living conditions of residents at the local scale.






Handmade Urbanism From Community Initiatives to Participatory Models




Handmade describes something made by hand or by a hand process, not by machine, especially with care or craftsmanship, and typically therefore of superior quality. Handmade urbanism is the way of providing urban change carried out by local residents in their own neighborhoods or communities, with their own hands and means. It starts with the residents recognizing a problem, followed by the active realization of an idea to solve that immediate issue. Community initiatives evolve from those active gestures and support the citizen’s active participation at the local scale. Their acts recognize chances in challenges, make creative use of existing resources, and forge partnerships and relationships to achieve predefined goals that address their daily needs and, eventually, ensure an improved quality of life for communities. The actions of handmade urbanism are unique, each shaped by the individuals and the field of operations that define them. They are carried out at the local scale, as products of culture and environment, and deal as much with soft infrastructure—physical and emotional wellbeing, education, etc.—as with the reshaping of the built environment. The study of handmade urbanism acknowledges that large parts of cities have been built by the residents themselves, without help from governments, planners or designers. It suggests alternative ways to approach planning other than the traditional methods currently employed. At a global level, handmade urbanism reveals overlaps in the characteristic ways of life of urban societies, clarifying common threads and differences among them. These provide us with opportunities to learn from the ways needs and problems have been addressed. The operative modes of handmade urbanism contribute to the discussion around participatory models. Its creation and appreciation is transformative to individuals and communities.



Since 2007, the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award has

This book compiles twenty-five interviews—or, five

Tom Unverzagt, who carefully conceived the graphic

been organized by the Alfred Herrhausen Society

for each one of the five cities—giving voice to different

as an outcome of the Urban Age conference series,

stakeholders who have played an important role in the

jointly organized with the London School of Econom-

rebuilding of these cities on a local scale. Each inter-

ics, and initiated by Wolfgang Nowak (AHS) and Ricky

viewee generously shared their knowledge—unveiling

Burdett (LSE).

subjects that are key to understanding how the projects

contributed to our image archive, which has been

are organized, the mechanisms behind them, as well as

growing over the years.

For five years, Ute E. Weiland has coordinated all of

design that structures all of these ideas. Inez Templeton who greatly refined the text through her review and proofreading. We graciously thank all of the photographers who

the awards in five cities, organizing the content and

providing arguments for the importance of small-scale

compilation with the local researchers chosen to carry

developments to face important challenges posed by

the idea of this publication from the beginning and

out the communication, organization, and fieldwork in

each one of these cities. All of the voices intertwine

have given us guidance throughout the production

each city.

and organize layers that allow a complex understand-

process. We thank them for their constant support,

ing of the projects, highlighting their potential for the

discussions, and critical input.

Jessica Barthel and Anja Fritzsch have also made valuable contributions in the organization of the award.

city at large.

Jochen Visscher and Philipp Sperrle have supported

Most importantly, none of this would exist without

We would like to acknowledge the work of our local

This publication has also benefited from the invalu-

the courage and entrepreneurship of those individuals,

researchers, who have coordinated the DBUAA in each

able support of four people who had the chance to see

active in their own cities, who have shown other ways

of the cities: Priya Shankar in Mumbai (2007), Marcos

the projects in all five cities. Ricky Burdett, Olaf Jacobs,

to fight against shortages and urgencies of all kinds.

L. Rosa in São Paulo (2008), Demet Mutman in Istan-

Wolfgang Nowak, and Anthony Williams share their

Their pioneerism transforms challenges into opportu-

bul (2009), Ana Alvarez in Mexico City (2010), and

point of view in interviews, helping us trace common

nities making use of available resources, identifying

Lindsay Bush in Cape Town (2012). They have worked

threads among the showcased community initiatives.

potentials, and employing them in proactive ways that

Olaf Jacobs produced the documentary Zukunft der

generate benefits to the built environment and, espe-

on the ground, rediscovering their own cities and unveiling networks of local practices that have been

Städte (The Future of Cities), which brings us stories from

built throughout a year of fieldwork. To a great extent,

the community projects presented in this book, allowing

these are the researchers that kept in contact with

the general public to experience these projects closely.

the local projects, giving continuity to the work that

cially, to the users and residents. Finally, we are grateful for those who have provided guidance and for every partner in each city. We would

Richard Sennett and his writings and lectures on

also like to thank all of the institutions, organizations,

started with our compilation, through the develop-

“cooperation” and “the open city,” as well as his re-

and associations that took part in the initiative during

ment of their own research and work. And they have

flections about some of the projects in São Paulo and

these five years.

collaborated on this publication, a project coordinated

Istanbul, have strongly influenced the work on this

by Marcos L. Rosa, by participating in a critical review

publication from the beginning.

of the findings. In this review, we look back at the

His contribution serves as a theoretical background

developments and current status of the projects that

for considering these projects. We also highly appreci-

are showcased, conduct a comparative analysis, and

ate his generous comments and advice in the process

suggest common points among all of the five cities.

of producing this book.

Specifically, we would like to acknowledge the critical

Paulo Ayres, who visualized each of the showcased

input of Priya Shankar, who organized the first award

projects in illustrations created with Marcos L. Rosa

in Mumbai and made a valuable contribution to this

and Lindsay Bush and informed by all of the local

book, and the constant support and discussions with

researchers. Working with him has been a delightful

Lindsay Bush, who has influenced the format of this

experience. He has employed his expertise in graphic

publication, as well as the debates with Ana Alvarez

drawings that illustrate the processes, mechanisms,

who reviewed our ideas and contributed with insight-

operational modes, as well as the impact and changes

ful concepts.

in each one of them.



Introduction 10 Introductory Interview Returning to the Roots Wolfgang Nowak

12 Initial Thoughts Make the Invisible Visible Ute E. Weiland

14 Foreword


São Paulo

Marcos L. Rosa


Mexico City



197 Four Interviews: Five Cities, One Gaze

68 Union Building

136 Miravalle Community Council

198 The Significance of Space in Urban Society

72 ACAIA Institute

140 Cultural Center Consejo Agrarista

76 Biourban

144 Recovering Spaces for Life



80 Workshops as a Communication Facilitator:

148 Weaving Efforts:

Understanding Community Needs

Working for the Common Good

Ana Cristina Cintra Camargo

Francisco Javier Conde González

82 Preexistence in Socially Vulnerable Areas

150 Reality Surpasses Us:

Elisabete França

We Need to Be More Flexible and Porous

of their Environment

84 Scaling Up Micro Actions

Felipe Leal

Marcos L. Rosa, Ute E. Weiland, with Ana Álvarez,

Fernando de Mello Franco

152 Unfolding New Professional Profiles for

86 How to Live Together

Bottom-up Urban Planning

Lisette Lagnado

Arturo Mier y Terán

88 The Challenge of Derelict and Residual Spaces.

154 Cultural Acupuncture over the City

Is Anyone Thinking on the Local Level?

Argel Gómez and Benjamín González

Nevoral Alves Bucheroni

156 Braiding the Physical and the Social:

The Community Richard Sennett

18 Editorial An Urban Trend: Residents Taking Ownership

Lindsay Bush, Demet Mutman, Priya Shankar

Five Cities 23 Introduction to Five Cities 25


Priya Shankar

Initiatives 34 Mumbai Waterfronts Center 38 Triratna Prerana Mandal 42 Urban Design Research Institute Interviews 46 Dreams, Dignity and Changing Realities: The Story of a Community Toilet Dilip Kadam, Dayanand Jadhav, Dayanand Mohite

48 Network, Intermediate, Integrate:



Initiatives 102 Music for Peace 106 Nurtepe First Step Cooperative 110 Children of Hope—Youth House Interviews 114 Presence and Vision of a Grass Roots Initiative Yeliz Yalın Baki

116 New Planning Approaches for Building Up Cities Erhan Demirdizen

118 Action and Participation in Planning

Seema Redkar

Özlem Ünsal

50 Elastic Urbanism:

120 Curating Artists and Cultural Practices

Sustainability and Informality in the City

Behiç Ak

Rahul Mehrotra

122 Advocating Sustainable and Participatory Models

Shabama Azmi

54 Democratizing Public Space P. K. Das

A New Social Contract for the City Jose Castillo

Demet Mutman

Reaching out to the Grassroots

52 Making Voices Heard: Art and Activism

Common Points

Ana Álvarez

Aslı Kıyak ˙Ingin


Cape Town

Lindsay Bush

Initiatives 170 Mothers Unite 174 Rocklands Urban Abundance Center 178 Thrive Interviews 182 Incidental Urban Acupuncture Carol Jacobs

184 Breaking it Down to Build it Up Michael Krause

186 Reimagining the City from a Different Viewpoint Edgar Pieterse

188 Lighting the Fire within Us Malika Ndlovu

190 Going Local: The Lavender Hill Area Councilor Shaun August

Ricky Burdett

2 00 Reporting from Local Initiatives Olaf Jacobs

202 Cities are an Expression of Human Needs Wolfgang Nowak

2 04 Focus on Results: Attention to Real Needs Anthony Williams

2 06 Project Categories, Programs and Common Clouds 212 Final Considerations Marcos L. Rosa and Ute E. Weiland

221 Credits


Introductory Interview

Returning to the Roots Wolfgang Nowak was the initiator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award

What inspired the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award?

What fascinated me, if you start in Mumbai’s

Why go to five cities to award best practices

Triratna Prerna Mandal, and then go to Mexico City’s

such as the ones we can see in this book? What

The idea for the award goes back to February 2006,

Miravalle, or even to the Sao Paulo’s Instituto Acaia, or

can we do with what we found?

when we hosted an Urban Age conference in Mexico

to any other of these five cities, you can find a “center”

I think the most urgent problem we face is our cities—

City. I had an opportunity to visit a slum. Despite being

with a facility, the square, an area that is somehow

it is a global problem. You cannot rethink cities without

a really awful crime-ridden neighborhood, its inhab-

protected, secured not by a fence, but by the common

acknowledging the experience of grassroots projects

itants had nonetheless created a marketplace and a

will that collectively does something. Today, if you

that are designed by the people, not urban planners

school. They had tried to improve their own situation,

travel from the center outside of the city, which does

and architects. The award allows us to compare all

creating a new city inside a situation of hopelessness.

not have clear borders, suddenly the city becomes just

these projects.

You find the same thing in Mumbai and São Paulo,

an agglomeration of houses, there is nothing else of

people resisting their environment by building some-

what makes a city—there is nothing. And if you look

tives indicating the different ways in which people

thing. This is what prompted us to create the Urban

at a famous picture of Mexico City that depicts “the

forge partnerships to create a better urban environ-

Age Award. The aim of the award is to enable people

endless city,” it looks like a horror vision of the city

ment and, as a result, a better life for themselves and

to find better solutions and become active citizens. I

that started to sprawl and is not a village but an ocean

their communities.

am not one of these people, like a Florence Nightingale,

of hopelessness where people live. My idea and what

who stands and gives soup to the poor. What we want

fascinated me is that inside this ocean of dwellings,

partners and visions in the organization of a better

is to enable the poor no longer to accept soup queues

people started to build what could be the beginning of a

environment in some of the largest cities in the world.

and produce their own soup.

new city. And you could see this, for instance, in India’s

Along with that, it is intended to serve as a platform

world’s mega-cities in the twenty-first century jointly organized

slum of Khotwadi, inside of which a community project

that organizes a network of urban initiatives at the

with the London School of Economics. He has held various

projects, and sometimes we even enable mayors and

started building a city. In Miravalle, another initiative

grass roots level.

senior positions in Germany’s state and federal governments,

citizens to meet. We honor alliances that improve the

looks like the center of a village. We like Paris because

I think we can encourage mayors and urban plan-

quality of life in cities and the prize celebrates the

if you go away from the large boulevards you will find

ners to look around their environment to see if there

shared responsibility between residents, companies,

little centers, with markets, trees and restaurants, and

is something happening. For me, it was interesting to

NGOs, universities, public bodies, etc.

these cities are cities with different centers. This is

see that whenever we told mayors about these initia-

Political Analysis and Planning at the German Federal Chancel-

also the charm of Berlin. In that sense, the vision of

tives in their cities, they were surprised. They were

lery from 1999 to 2002. He lectures and publishes widely on

We remember that after coming back from Cape

that “endless city” is not a vision of horror. If you look

astonished about how many of these initiatives existed.

Town earlier this year your first words were

carefully, you see that people are starting to build their

City leaders should link these initiatives together. Such

“Déjà vu.” Can you tell us that story?

own cities or centers. It is different from the faceless

initiatives and those who manage them should be part

This is a fascinating story about Cape Town and about

cities being built by star architects and investors, with

of urban planning and not excluded. If we want to re-

all of the other cities. People start building their own

the skyscrapers and shopping centers. These small

invent cities in the twenty-first century, this means re-

“city centers” inside big “deserts” of agglomerated

centers are surrounded by people who build their

turning to the roots, linking urban planning with com-

houses, they start building these oases based on the

own “city within the city,” one that is surrounded by

munity initiatives in order to learn from each other. I

same pattern: it is the tree in the center and around

several others centers alike. They are the reinvention

think we can learn a lot from the grassroots level.

this tree there are benches and gardens, and they plant

of cities inside of areas that we call slums, favelas,

some crops and then there is the spiritual center, which

gecekondus, barrios, townships. Indeed, their efforts

Bank. Founded in 1992, its work focuses on new forms of

might be a library, or a school or some teaching or

make sense, because they do not destroy the existing,

governance as a response to the challenges of the 21st century.

health facility, and the kitchen, where one learns how

but build on it.

We encourage citizens to take forward their

to prepare a good meal. They also have small places, squares, playgrounds where there is entertainment. These are safe environments where people can meet.

We found that there is a variety of creative initia-

The Award looks for projects that bring together

Wolfgang Nowak is Director of the Alfred Herrhausen Society, the International Forum of Deutsche Bank. Wolfgang Nowak initiated the Urban Age program, an international investigation into the future of the

France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris, and UNESCO. After unification, he was State Secretary of Education in Saxony from 1990 to 1994. In addition, he was Director-General for

academic issues and is a regular commentator for German television and newspapers. He is honorary Vice President of the British think tank Policy Network, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution in Washington, and Fellow at the NRW-School of Governance at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The Alfred Herrhausen Society Named after Alfred Herrhausen, a German banker and former chairman of Deutsche Bank who was assassinated in a roadside bomb attack in 1989, the non-profit Alfred Herrhausen Society (AHS) is a corporate social responsibility initiative of Deutsche

The Urban Age conference series and award program is one of three major initiatives supported by AHS. Broadly speaking, the AHS seeks traces of the future in the present, and working with partners in government, academia and business, aims to conceptualize relevant themes for analysis and debate globally.


Initial Thoughts

Make the Invisible Visible Ute E. Weiland has coordinated the award process in all five cities

Cities—and megacities in particular—have become way

ture, or urban planning) is assigned for the fieldwork

construction of the city, as well as to document and to

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never

too complex to be governed from a centrally located

in each city. Their overall function has been to trace

share it. These activities received considerable media

have been seen.” (Robert Bresson, director)

city hall. Nowadays, successful urban politics are large-

projects in which people proactively improve their en-

coverage, which informed the civil society about the

ly based on temporary alliances, created for the solu-

vironment by forging partnerships and sharing respon-

potential of those initiatives and about their impact on

tion of concrete challenges. With different stakeholders

sibilities. While coordinating the award, each Manager

citizen’s lives.

partaking, they prevent the alienation of citizens from

has been in constant contact with those initiatives,

one another. Alienation has already seized whole living

learning about their aims and methods, visiting their

though most of the projects are modest in size, the

districts of this world’s megacities; suggesting they

sites, and documenting their work.

procedure organizes a network that reveals innovative

The mapping has taken place ever since. Even

form part of the city by labeling them “city districts”

Their first task has always been to communicate the

would certainly be wrong. They are isolated from the

award to a network of different stakeholders—local au-

traditional quarters, not only geographically but also

thorities and administration, academia, journalists, art-

On a critical note, it is important to remember

through sordid living conditions, high crime rates, and

ists and designers, NGOs, community associations, etc.

that the award has been successfully communicated

inadequate housing situations.

In a second step, they created a platform for networks

through public relations activities and extensive

With the Urban Age conferences, organized jointly

of different societal parts that are active in shaping the

documentation; to reach and induce local authorities

with the London School of Economics, Alfred Herrhaus-

urban environment. These platforms were designed to

to get involved, however, it requires a strong net-

en Society has established a network of architects, ur-

mobilize the civil society of the respective city as well

work between decision-makers and active citizens, a

ban planners, mayors, scientists, and NGOs, in order to

as to circulate the call for initiatives.

temporal alliance to make use of the dedication that

find solutions for the cities of the twenty-first century.

The Award Managers were sent on the ground in

modes of spatial organization and disseminates this information to other stakeholders.

was experienced in desperate environments. In other

With the help of the Urban Age Award, this “network

order to be in direct contact with a network of local ac-

words, it needs urban planning that is willing to benefit

from the top” is supposed to be complemented by a

tors involved in collective practices. The whole process

from the open spaces that the participating projects

“network from the bottom” to merge these to a better

of organizing the award provides an enormous poten-

have created despite adverse circumstances.

overall picture of the respective urban region.

tial for field research, as it allows exploring a number

Starting in 2007, the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award distinguishes “partnerships of shared respon-

of projects in the urban local sphere. By the immediate observation of these initiatives,

This was accomplished in Cape Town for the first time, where a vigorous Governor, an interested municipality, and the Cape Town Partnership were willing

sibility” between citizens, politicians, the economy,

the researcher no longer contemplates the world

to interlink the 250 applying projects not only with

and NGOs, which contribute to an improved quality of

passively; he or she rather starts to experience it

each other, but also with the City of Cape Town and the

living in their cities. The award was designed to en-

actively through the contact with people active in

Provincial Government. The result was an alliance that

courage people to assume responsibility for their living

their own environment. In every city, the fieldwork

connects in a sustainable way what had not been con-

environment. It is awarded annually, usually in the city

continued with the search for local leadership im-

nected before.

that hosts the Urban Age conference of that year. After

mersed in their realities, or in the scale of their own

an open application process, an independent interna-


tional jury awards the prize, which is worth 100,000

Ute Elisabeth Weiland has been the Deputy Director of the Alfred Herrhausen Society,

The Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award is designed

Deutsche Bank’s international forum since 2007, a member of

to initiate such developments; it can make visible that

the Executive Board of the Urban Age conference series at the London School of Economics since 2004, and since 1 January

In São Paulo in 2008, corresponding projects were

the borders between historical urban quarters and

located by systemic mapping, and subsequently related

slums do not symbolize walls between citizens and

to the dimensions of the city as a whole for the first

slum dwellers. Active citizenship exists even where the

dia Law and Media Management at the University of Potsdam

Award is to make the invisible visible, to show what

time. Furthermore, the intensive investigation of the

concept itself is unknown.

and was its deputy managing director until 2003. Born in the

potential there is in the slums, townships, barrios,

local projects started to produce actual knowledge; the

gecekondus, or favelas of this world, and to constitute

amount of information gathered from there was un-

jects documented during these years, the compiled ma-

a lobby for those who have never had one.

foreseen until that moment. It opened up opportunities

terial allows us to critically reflect on commonalities

to reveal practices, to pinpoint fields of opportunity

between the projects, about their exemplariness, their

for actions, and to highlight their importance to the

potential, as well as about their impact and innovation.

USD, to the winning project. The overall aim of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age

For the implementation of the project, a local Award Manager (from the field of political science, architec-

After five cities, five awards, and hundreds of pro-

2010 member of the Governing Board of LSE Cities. In 1997, she co-founded the Erich Pommer Institute for Me-

former German Democratic Republic, she graduated from the Academy of Music in Weimar. After unification, she became chief of staff to the Secretary of State for education in Saxony. Ute E. Weiland is a member of the German-Israeli Young Leaders Exchange of the Bertelsmann Foundation and young leader of the Atlantik Brücke.



The Community Richard Sennett is Professor of Sociology at LSE and New York University and author of ‘The Craftsman’

Practising Commitment

children; domestic interiors stuffed with knick-knacks

the 1960s, those political gains didn’t figure so much

department, but the youngsters in the project a gen-

I would like to visit the scene of a settlement house in

and carefully brushed furniture, again a contrast to the

in their own thinking about their personal survival; if

eration later were hostile to people who offered them-

Chicago where informal cooperation helped provide a

bare, scuffed interiors which before had counted for us

a door opens, you do not automatically walk through

selves as helping hands, as ‘role models’. As always,

social anchor for poor children like myself. Coopera-

as ‘home’.

it. Yet when we got down to the grit of discussing our

the message ‘If I can do it, so can you’ can be turned

own children’s adolescent angst, few people applied

around: ‘If I made good, why aren’t you succeeding?

tion’s difficulties, pleasures and consequences appeared

At the settlement-house reunion, people spoke with

among the people who passed through this dilapidated,

wonder at what had happened to the neighbourhood

Scripture to that perennial, particular hard case. So

What’s wrong with you?’ So the role model’s offer to

bustling building on the city’s Near West Side. Or so it

since we had all left. It had sunk further than any of us

too at work; rather than moralizing, people think

give something back to the community, to reach out,

seemed to me, when decades later I returned to share

could have imagined, and was now a vast archipelago

flexibly and adaptively about concrete behaviour.

was rejected by the young people in the community

a weekend, sponsored by the settlement house, with

of abandoned houses, isolated apartment towers in

On the job, for the first time, many of these young

who most needed help.

thirty or so African-American adults who had grown up

which the elevators stank of urine and shit, a place

African-Americans were working side by side with

All three of these issues—the fragility of morale,

in this small corner of the Chicago ghetto.1

where no policemen responded to telephone calls for

whites, and they had to feel their way. Even twenty

conviction, cooperation—were familiar to me, but for

Memory played the same trick on my childhood

help and most adolescents carried knives or guns. The

years later they had to do so, as when my child-

me as a white boy they cut a different way. My mother

neighbours that it does on everyone; the experience of

magic talismans of a place or a face seemed even more

hood next-door neighbour became the supervisor of

and I moved to the housing project when my father left

years of change can be compressed in the memory of a

required to explain the luck of escape.

a group of mostly white subordinates in the motor

in my infancy and left us penniless, but we lived there

bureau of Chicago.

only about seven years; as soon as our family fortunes

face or a room. The black children I grew up with had a

The administrators of the settlement house, like the

compelling reason to remember in this way. They were

elderly cop representing the Police Athletic League,

And then there was the matter of cooperation.

survivors. Their childhoods disorganized by poverty,

were of course happy to hear these testimonials to

As children, the ‘fuck you’ version of cooperation

gers for me but not mortal dangers. Perhaps thanks to

doubting as adolescents that they had much of value

their saving presence, but too realistic to believe

dominated our lives, since all gangs in the community

this distance, the reunion sparked in me the desire to

in themselves to offer the larger world, they puzzled

entirely in their own transforming potency: many kids

subscribed to it, and the gangs were powerful. In the

understand how the three pieces of unfinished busi-

later in life about why they survived while so many

who banged on instruments in the settlement house or

immediate post-Second World War era, gangs dealt in

ness among my childhood friends might be seen in a

of their childhood mates had succumbed to addiction,

played basketball on a nearby paved court eventually

petty theft rather than in drugs, as they would a gener-

larger context.

crime or lives lived on the margins. So they singled out

wound up in jail. And the past remained unfinished

ation later; small children were sent to ‘front’ shoplift-

a person, place or event as a transforming experience

business for the survivors; issues they faced as chil-

ing, since, if these children were caught, they could not

for themselves, as a talisman. The settlement house be-

dren they continued to face as adults. That unfinished

be sent to jail. To avoid being sucked into gang life, kids

Self-sacrificing, long-term, wilful and so fragile: these

came a talisman, as did the strict local Catholic school

business falls under three headings.

had to find other ways of associating with one another,

measures of commitment make it an experience

ways that flew under the radar-screen, as it were,

inseparable from the ways we understand ourselves.

one’s spirits up in difficult circumstances. So simple

of the gang’s control. This meant hanging out in bus

We might want to reframe these experiences by saying that strong commitment entails a duty to oneself.

and the sports club run by an organization called the Police Athletic League. My childhood companions were not heroic; they did

The first concerns morale, the matter of keeping

returned, we moved out. The community posed dan-


to state, morale was less clear to explain in practice,

shelters or other places than those marked out as gang

not rise from rags to riches, becoming racial exem-

since my neighbours had every rational reason to suc-

turf, or staying late at school, or heading directly to the

plars of the American Dream. Only a few made it to

cumb to low spirits as children, and even now could

settlement house. A place of refuge meant somewhere

word ‘duty’ by thinking of commitment as a road map,

university; most steadied themselves enough to get

still wake up at night, when worried about an unpaid

you could talk about parents, do homework together,

the map of what you should do with your life.

through secondary school, thereafter taking jobs as

bill or a problem at work, thinking the whole edifice of

or play checkers, all intermissions from ‘fuck you’

secretaries, firemen, store-keepers or functionaries in

their adult lives might suddenly collapse like a house

aggression. These intermissions in retrospect seemed

commitment by the single German word Beruf, which

local government. Their gains, which might seem mod-

of cards.

enormously important, since the experiences planted

roughly translates into English as a ‘vocation’ or a ‘call-

the seed for the kind of behaviour, open rather than

ing’. These English words are saturated with religious overtones from the time of the Great Unsettling.

est to an outsider, were to them enormous. Over the

The second issue concerns conviction. At our gath-

And then shift again the oppressive weight of that

Max Weber sought to explain this kind of sustaining

four days of our reunion, I went to visit some of their

ering, people declared they had survived thanks to

defensive, which had served people to make their way

homes, and recognized domestic signs of the journey

strong, guiding convictions—all were devoted church-

outside the community.

we had all taken: tidy backyards with well-tended

goers, and all had faith in family writ large. Though

plants, unlike the broken-bottle-strewn play areas

the African-American adults had passed through, and

wanted to ‘give something back’, in the words of a

for others, remaining engaged in society, choice didn’t

surrounded by chain-link fences we had known as

benefited from, the American civil rights upheavals of

childhood neighbour, a foreman in the city’s sanitation

enter the picture in the same way; faith was natural-

Now some of those who had survived by leaving

The medieval Catholic imagined a religious vocation as the monk’s decision to withdraw from the world;



An Urban Trend: Residents Taking Ownership of their Environment Marcos L. Rosa, Ute E. Weiland, with Ana Álvarez, Lindsay Bush, Demet Mutman, Priya Shankar

Increasingly, people across the globe are engaging in improving the urban environments they live in. They

• benefited communities, improving quality of life and the

This publication intends to make the mechanisms

tors involved, and the organizational steps that were

urban environment in their neighborhoods and cities.

of these projects legible, to draft their complexity

taken. These drawings extract commonalities through

act in response to urgent issues and compelling needs

The 741 initiatives that applied for consideration

systematically and clarify their strategies and opera-

the reoccurrence of similar programs, organized dif-

such as shelter, security, employment, health, and edu-

cross every sector. Projects deal with collective built

tional modes:

ferently according to local challenges and overlapping

cation. Community-based initiatives indicate the ability

space, the recovery of public space, communal clean-

of citizens to present solutions to challenges posed

ing of garbage dumps, sanitation programs, slum

ships were created? What are the main challenges in

ing out of these actions are resourceful experiments in

by everyday life, and use creativity to transform and

upgrade, and housing retrofit. A large proportion

implementing a collaborative project? Was there a desire

city-shaping that demonstrate the power of our shared

multiply existing resources.

relates to the environment, through waste manage-

to improve the urban environment? How did these im-

“humanness” and its capacity to cut across physical,

ment programs, recycling, greening, and urban ag-

provements take shape?

cultural, and geographical differences.

Inadvertently political by nature, these initiatives

In response to what do projects start? Which partner-

each other in interesting schemes. The situations aris-

are a response to the incapability of today’s cities to

riculture practices that make available high-quality,

cope with urban challenges via traditional planning

fresh, affordable produce in disadvantaged neighbor-

culture and its instruments. They invite different ac-

hoods. Some are of an economic nature, through

With these questions in mind, this publication allows

tors to cooperate towards a new urban scheme driven

shared entrepreneurial activities that work to reduce

one to dive into some of the projects showcased for

More than just narrating the stories of these projects,

by participation and a proactive attitude. They build


each city. Analysis of the projects is intended to reveal

this book intends to organize a platform for discussion

the driving logics of problematic urban environments

that engages different stakeholders in conceptualizing

as they are read by their residents and users.

the impact of local initiatives at various levels:

collective space, collectively. They reveal a shared layer

Many projects activate public or collective space by

The Spirit of Entrepreneurship

The Capacity of Negotiating and Building Alliances

of the city that is complex, incremental and difficult to

promoting leisure activities such as sports, recre-

articulate, as it does not organize systems, but rather

ational, and cultural events—sometimes leading to

operates on a local level, fulfilling micro-agendas

the improvement of these spaces and the construc-

measures employed to fight serious problems prove

what are its operational mechanisms at this scale? What

through direct action.

tion of new facilities. By creating local startups,

highly effective in using existing minimal resources

is the attitude of municipalities towards urban improve-

services, and infrastructures, these initiatives have

to catalyze social and economic gains. As Arturo Mier

ment and the redressing of inequality? Can grassroots

a positive impact on their neighborhoods, enhanc-

y Terán says, referring to Mexico City, “In the places

complement the efforts of the public sector to integrate

This book investigates a series of grassroots initiatives

ing social cohesion. Local organization often gives

where these projects are being carried out, one can

the city and improve livability in all areas? Is there a

that provide social infrastructures to neighborhoods

rise to a community center, a collective kitchen, or

clearly see a change.” Without aiming to romanticize

move towards integrating bottom-up with top-down

with shortages of all kinds. It is the product of a five-

a social enterprise—structures that work as focal

the contexts where the projects take place, we under-

planning initiatives? What are the long-term prospects

year program (2007 to 2012) that used the platform of

points within existing social networks. They offer

stand that, as modest as some of these initiatives may

for bottom-up practices? What future scenarios might be

the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award to compile and

classes, courses, skills training, child care, and health

be, they are successfully improving residents’ lives and


map out community projects in five cities in emerging

programs that address the symptoms of poor urban

transforming collective space in cities.

countries: Mumbai, São Paulo, Istanbul, Mexico City,

environments (poverty, substance abuse, violence,

and Cape Town. In each one of the five cities, the award

and crime), and support and empower individuals to

documentation of these initiatives, an action protocol

nineteen-eighties and nineties and later evolved from

called for existing projects that:

study, find work, and become active and enterprising

depicted through illustrations, and a set of interviews

independent to negotiating and demanding co-respon-

• were already implemented and functioning, and

in their daily lives.

drawing out different perspectives on the subject.

sibility to institutions and the government.

Community Initiatives

demonstrated engagement and innovation

Not all of these categories, programs and mecha-

• shared responsibility for building collective space

nisms are necessarily obvious at first glance. For

• proved their ability to forge partnerships with dif-

example, a peaceful meeting space with a tree and

What some may describe as naive gestures, simple

This book consists of a collection of photographs, the

The mode of enquiry was systematically repeated in each city, from Mumbai to Cape Town. It showcases fifteen projects, three from each of the

What is the importance of “bottom-up” urbanism and

Having started responding to urgent needs, these community initiatives had become evident in the

A series of interviews deepens the discussion, inviting representatives in each city to reflect on these practices and bringing different perspectives to the

ferent stakeholders: local and cultural associations,

a bench can hide a great complexity. This simple

five cities. This gives us a wider perspective that allows

table: grassroots projects and local leaderships, the

community leaders, residents, users, NGOs, artists,

arrangement of objects can host a number of overlap-

us to compare these cities.

government, academia and researchers, artists and

architects, activists, government, planning insti-

ping programs, actions that change and adapt accord-

Detailed illustrations made individually for each

tutes, businesses, academia, etc.

ing to local demands, populating an open framework.

project depict their operational modes, reveal the ac-

cultural figures, and individuals connected to the local challenges of each city.



Five Cities Embedded Productive Capacities

Participatory Modes for Future Scenarios

“We are recognizing what an immense natural resource

The book outlines existing operations, identifies in-

is right there to help the transformation, to generate

novative tools and planning instruments, and seeks

income and shared entrepreneurship.� (Malika)

to shape grammars of action. Based on this, it aims to

Despite their geographic and temporal distinctions,

explore possible future scenarios that could emerge

all of these actions rely on a collaborative process

from these localized practices. Could they be scaled up?

that is, in each case, dominant and fundamental. They

Might they make a larger and more systemic impact?

explore the capacity for production within urban

Investigating small-scale and sometimes invisible

settlements, contesting the model of urban vs. rural, or

urban processes can reveal not only opportunities for

agricultural vs. industrial vs. service economies. These

action, but methods of operation that could be relevant

projects demonstrate how the agricultural, industrial,

to others. This approach suggests a transversal way of

and service economies that historically divide the evo-

thinking about planning, one that acknowledges the

lution of our cities, nowadays coexist in urban areas.

equal importance of all the different voices compiled

Incorporating these initiatives into mainstream

here. It drafts arguments that might lead to partici-

planning would require a drastic change in the concep-

patory models, and envisages a scenario where the

tion of city. In this new form of planning, metropolitan

knowledge and findings compiled from these real world

systems would need to not only support the service

experiences can begin to feed back into planning and

economy, but also allow for production: urban farming,

policy. It is not a finished work, but rather an open pro-

small-scale manufacturing, social enterprises, creative

cess of investigation that gives rise to further inquiry.

practices, informal economies, and so on. How can we make efficient use of what we have? How do we engineer a future based on the productive capacities of our cities? How can we build a framework accessible enough to enable and encourage people to take part? How might a developed scenario look? Are these temporary projects, and how might they develop over time? Can they impact upon the urban fabric in the future? What is their collective productive capacity to generate change?


Five Cities


5 x 3 Initiatives


Three projects from each city are presented here

The last part of each city’s chapter is a photo essay

through photography, a text-based portrait, and an

that showcases some of the other initiatives compiled

illustration. We explain why these projects began and

in that city. These images illustrate a much broader

what inspired them, illustrate where they are located,

range of projects of similar nature, suggesting further

what they do (programs and activities), and what

commonalities between community initiatives in the

situations they generate, how they developed and how

five metropolitan regions.

their outcomes have impacted upon the community. These snapshots aim to make visible the mechanisms through which these projects operate: how they mobilize the community to contribute, how they create partnerships and leverage support, how they built on existing capacity to sustain themselves, and how they benefit—both directly and indirectly—the users, residents, and the urban environment itself. The illustration organizes a systematic comparison among different initiatives in different cities, making use of common elements through which civil society improves the living conditions and upgrades spaces. In the drawings, one can find these elements be rearticulated differently in every project, thus generating diverse urban situations, making use of local potential. 5 x 5 Voices | Interviews A set of interviews intends to unveil key aspects in the process of implementing the initiatives and to draft common threads among them. The interviews reveal different perspectives on the same topics for every city, not only organizing local voices around a common platform, but also prompting for similarities in the ways our cities—and citizens—are evolving to address urban challenges. The five voices are: Community: insiders, local activists and leaderships, local residents, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, cultural agents, and activators Government: governmental agencies, public offices, official secretaries, municipal representatives and their agents Academia: teachers, theorists, architects, planners, and researchers who investigate and plan cities Arts and culture: curators, artists, and cultural agents involved with local projects. Intermediaries: those operating at the middle level (between top-down and bottom-up interventions), intermediating scales and different layers of knowledge and action

Mumbai Priya Shankar




Population [metro/city]

20.75 12.4



Area occupied [metro/city]

1,176 438



Gross domestic product (GDP)


[$bn at PPPs]

Average density [metro/city]

17,637 20,038

Inhabitants/km2 Inhabitants/km2


Maharashtrians, North Indians, South Indians, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Parsis




Participatory Developments in Mumbai

Projects compiled in Mumbai demonstrate the remark-


able initiative, creativity, and tenacity of citizens from

Triratna Prerana Mandal is a community toilet that

different walks of life to address the challenges in their

evolved into a comprehensive community center, pro-

city. These initiatives respond to the nature of the city—

viding educational and entrepreneurial activities.

in particular, to the large degree of informality and the constraints of space due to its specific geography. The seventy-four submissions are concentrated


Mumbai Waterfronts Center reclaims the city’s wa-

primarily in the city of Mumbai rather than in the

terfronts by constructing promenades and improving

wider metropolitan region, although they are spread

beaches, making them usable as open, public spaces

across different parts of the city. They reflect a variety

for all.

of concerns, but the most prevalent are public space, housing, education, and sanitation. They demonstrate


the involvement of multiple stakeholders—from local

Urban Design Research Institute has worked to pre-

communities to the city government to private actors.

serve and improve the city’s historic downtown core as

Much of the city has grown informally; and it shows

a quality urban space and cultural hub.

a mixed geography with rich and poor settlements existing side by side in various parts of the city. The nature of both the growth and governance of the city has made even basic public service delivery difficult in many areas. Therefore, a number of projects are


concerned with cleaning, waste management, and recycling. At the same time, the geography of the city has prevented outward expansion, leading to incredible levels of density and limited open space. As a result,


several initiatives are concerned with public and community spaces.


3 km




Triratna Prerana Mandal

In the Khotwadi informal settlement in Mumbai’s Santa Cruz district, an area not far from the airport, Triratna Prerana Mandal (TPM) began as just a group of boys hanging out together and playing cricket. In 2002, it transformed into a “community-body organization,” which in Mumbai parlance means a residents’ association of slum-dwellers that partners with the local government in civic activities. Community toilets were constructed in the area as part of the Slum Sanitation Program, which was funded by the World Bank, led by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), and implemented by SPARC (a major NGO). TPM was meant to maintain the toilets constructed for the residents in its local shantytown. But TPM didn’t just maintain toilets. The group utilized the toilet premises to set up its office, from where it started a range of activities. The first floor of the toilet complex was made into a space for a computer lab, where computer classes were run and English language instruction provided. The space is also used as a kitchen where women cook for schoolchildren as part of a government-related employment program. TPM has now “adopted” a local derelict building in the area, where it has established a gym, yoga classes, dance classes, and expanded its women’s self-help and skill groups. It has installed solar panels on its community toilet building, generating its own electricity, and has also set aside space for rainwater harvesting. It is involved in a number of recycling, waste sorting, and gardening activities, improving the environment in its neighborhood. In an area that many would dismiss as a “slum,” the project demonstrates the ingenuity, capacities, and capability of the local community to improve its environment and circumstances through partnerships and alliances. It shows how even basic infrastructure and limited space (the community toilet building) can provide an impetus for much wider community activism and urban change.





Dreams, Dignity, and Changing Realities: The Story of a Community Toilet Dilip Kadam and Dayanand Jadhav and Dayanand Mohite are involved in Triratna Prerana Mandal, a communitybased organization

How did the project start? What motivated you

project, community support became essential because

to their needs and demands rather than designing

to become engaged?

all of the maintenance would be through contributions

abstract projects. But this is only the start and we have

We started out as a cricket club. Later, we began other

from the local community. We needed to make the

to go ahead and do many more things.

activities such as cleaning the area. This slum is our

project sustainable and we needed to convince people

neighborhood. We are living in it and we found it

that it would be beneficial for them. Ten to fifteen of us

How has the project changed or grown? What

wrong to be in such a dirty environment. We real-

worked on it at the start. Everyday, after our daily jobs,

are the next goals? Where do you envision the

ized that illnesses and diseases spread through filth,

we would each visit five to six households to talk to

so we started to work on it ourselves. After a while,

people. We would explain the impacts of bad sanitation

The award was vital in helping us achieve recogni-

it became a habit to keep things clean. We wanted to

on health and what the benefits of the project would

tion and visibility, and in helping us reach out to other

improve the area and take pride in it. When the slum

be. Through this outreach, we usually managed to

new partners and figures to support our activities. We

sanitation program started in Mumbai, people from

convince three to four families each on a regular basis.

have expanded our work a lot since then. We now have

large NGOs and the municipal corporation (BMC) came

But many were opposed to this. They had seen too

solar energy panels and a stronger rainwater harvest-

to visit us and we got involved in providing a commu-

many projects fail and were also used to getting things

ing system, making our project more sustainable. Our

nity toilet for the area because this matched well with

for free. But once the toilet was built and they saw how

waste segregation center has expanded so that we can

our aims.

clean it was, even those who had earlier resisted began

help with much more recycling and waste manage-

to use it and realized what a difference it made.

ment. Partly due to the recognition from the award,

Which partnerships were created to strengthen

project five years from now?

the BMC agreed to let us “adopt” the neighboring park

your project? What needs did they fulfill and

Did the desire to improve the urban environ-

and derelict building there. We have revitalized this

when were they formed?

ment play a role from the outset? How do you

building and set up a gym, yoga classes, dance classes,

assess this achievement?

tailoring classes, and a table tennis and sports center

Although we had existed as an informal group for a while, the community toilet project started as a result

From the start, we thought about improving our living

in the space. Our women’s self-help group has also

of partnerships. The World Bank provided funding for

environment but we weren’t able to focus on it. This

increased its activities, which now include tailoring

the slum sanitation program and the BMC implemented

only became concrete later on. We would clean aspects

and grinding flour, in addition to its earlier cooking for

it on a citywide basis. Major NGOs such as SPARC were

of the area; we began planting some trees and plants.

schools project. We have a better-equipped computer

It was the space that provided us the inspiration to start

involved. For us, the most significant partnerships have

We tried to remove garbage. The support of our part-

lab now and are working on setting up a library. Since

this work (the women’s self-help group). In our homes

been with the local community and the BMC. They have

ners has been vital in what we’ve achieved. But there

the refurbishment, the toilets are also better. We would

in the slum, in this neighborhood, there was no space to

made the project feasible. As we have progressed, we

were also frustrations along the way. For example,

like to improve the park and building to become a re-

start any work. We have this space above the toilet so we

have also sought out new partners for specific needs,

when we first started using the space above the toilet

ally nice community area. Although we have done some

thought we need to utilize it. We women had so many

such as for our computer lab or for women’s training

for other activities, this was considered illegal. The

work on it, there’s still much to be done—both in terms

problems—going to bad toilets or having no access to toi-


idea came to us because we never had space for our

of gardening and renovating the building. We would

lets. And not having any finances, always struggling. We

meetings and an office atop the toilet was symbolically

also like to use our experience to help create successful

thought we women could get together and do something,

Was community support important to the setup

important in demonstrating its cleanliness. We faced

community toilets in other areas, especially near the

so we founded our women’s organization. We help each

and continuation of the project and how was it

difficulties with this but now the use of the top room

railway lands. We’ve been thinking about a biogas plant

other and have more confidence now. And dignity. People

mobilized? What challenges did you face and

has been legalized and even been turned into a policy

but need to explore the technology and get support.

respect our work and they respect us. We have made our

how were they overcome?

for other areas. What we’ve realized is that what is

We’ve also been thinking about collaborating more with

own society, our own community.

Even when we were just a cricket club, people would

more important than the person who builds the toilet

the local municipal school on educational activities.

Deepa Mohite is part of the Triratna Mahila Kalyan Sarva Seva

help us, and community support was significant for our

is the person who maintains the toilet. And it’s also

Sanstha, a women’s self-help group affiliated with Triratna Pre-

work in cleaning the area. When we started the toilet

important to find out what people want and respond

rana Mandal




P. K. Das

Dilip Kadam is President of Triratna Prerna Mandal (TPM), Dayanand Jadhav is Executive President of TPM, and

is an architect and activist. He has aimed to establish connec-

Dayanand Mohite is Secretary of TPM. Dilip Kadam studied

tions between architecture and people by involving them in a

until the tenth grade and does occasional work in the certifi-

participatory planning process. His work includes organizing

cate office of Mumbai University. Dayanand Jadhav also studied

slum dwellers for better living and evolving affordable hous-

until the tenth grade and now works as an electrical contractor.

ing models, engaging in policy framework for mass housing,

Dayanand Mohite graduated from high school and works with

reclaiming public space in Mumbai by developing the wa-

Jet Airways at the Mumbai airport. They all grew up and live

terfronts, urban planning, architectural and interior design

in the Khotwadi informal settlement in Mumbai and together,

projects. He is Chairperson of the Mumbai Waterfronts Center

along with other members of the local community, founded

and founder of P.K. Das & Associates architectural practice. He

Triratna Prerna Mandal.

has written and lectured widely and recently curated the Open Mumbai exhibition.

Seema Redkar is an Officer on Special Duty, Municipal Corporation of Greater

Chapter author and interviewer Priya Shankar

Mumbai (MCGM.) She is working with the Solid Waste Management department, in charge of a program called Advance

is a sociopolitical researcher, writer, and commentator. She

Locality Management (ALM), which focuses on good gover-

is currently Senior Researcher and Project Developer at the

nance and increased citizen participation. She has worked with

Alfred Herrhausen Society. She helped conceptualize, frame,

the slum upgradation program and slum sanitation program,

and initiate the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award as well as the

funded by the World Bank for MCGM. She has been involved in

Foresight project on the rise of the BRICS. Her research inter-

community development work with a focus on education and

ests are centered on issues of governance, globalization, and

urban poverty alleviation and is also committed to voluntary

development. She has edited a series of Foresight readers and

work, mentoring several local community organizations.

contributed to other publications. Her writings have appeared in New Statesman, Global Policy, Internationale Politik, Estadao

Rahul Mehrotra

São Paulo, Times of India, India Today and others. She worked at

is a practicing architect and his firm, RMA Architects, which

the think tank, Policy Network and with the Urban Age project

was founded in 1990 in Mumbai, has executed many archi-

at the London School of Economics. She previously worked

tectural projects in India. He has also written extensively on

with educational projects in informal settlements and youth

issues to do with architecture, conservation, and urbanism in

NGOs in Delhi. She holds an undergraduate degree from Delhi

India. His latest book is Architecture in India Since 1990 (2011).

University and a postgraduate degree from Oxford University,

He has taught at the University of Michigan and at the School

both in history.

of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Currently, Rahul Mehrotra is Professor

Members of the Jury for the Award in Mumbai

and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning and Design at

the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. He was a member of the jury for the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in 2007. Shabana Azmi

Richard Burdett

Director, Urban Age & Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics

Shabana Azmi

Actor and social activist

is a renowned actress and social activist committed to

women’s rights, housing rights, and inter-religious dialogue.

Architect and Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard

Nivarra Hakk in Mumbai and the Mijwan Welfare Society in


rural Northern India are two major social initiatives that she

has been involved in. She was a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament and has also been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNFPA. Her latest films are Kalvpriksh, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and Midnight’s Children. She was on the jury for the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in 2007.

Rahul Mehrotra

Suketu Mehta

Author and Associate Professor, New York University

Enrique Norten

Founder, TEN Arquitectos, New York and Mexico City & Miler Chair of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

Anthony Williams

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and is the Executive Director of the Global Government

São Paulo Marcos L. Rosa


Sテバ Paulo


Population [metro/city]

19.9 10.8

million million

Area occupied [metro/city]

8,000 1,500

km2 km2

Gross domestic product (GDP)


[$bn at PPPs]

Average density [metro/city]

2,420 7,139

Inhabitants/km2 Inhabitants/km2


Indigenous, Portuguese, Spanish, Italians, Japanese, African,Lebanese, Syria, Korean, South Americans, Brazilian


SÃo Paulo


Urban Creative Practices in São Paulo

Projects compiled in São Paulo show how self-organization responds to urgent needs, generating quality col-


lective spaces that encourage community participation.

Edificio União (Union Building) is a formerly occu-

We found 133 initiatives concentrated primarily in

pied high-rise in the center of the city, which has been

the central area, but spread over the whole metropoli-

successfully converted into residences for forty-two

tan area. They test the collective use of space through

families, including a communal space.

1 2

cultural, arts, and education production, as well as the creation of recreational opportunities, recycling alternatives, social housing, etc. The rapid urbanization process, experienced the late twentieth century, faced major problems related to the


Instituto Acaia is a cultural facility, with a nursery and a workshop, which has carved a common space within the dense slum tissue.


lack of infrastructure—from electricity and water to education and culture. This is still an ongoing process,


which has fragmented the city, producing urban waste-

Biourban transformed the pathways of the Mauro

lands and residual spaces of different natures; it has

slum, stimulating inhabitants to activate unused spaces

also polarized wealth. This urbanization process has

and upgrade them.

created both a verifiable lack of quality spaces for human coexistence, and unused space with the potential to host urban creative practices. In São Paulo, these are drivers to a restructuring of the urban environment committed to the level of the user.

5 km


SÃo Paulo



Pioneered by the young sociology student Jeff Anderson, the initiative intended to improve life in slums, through social action and do-it-yourself measures, in which he and members of the community were involved. The project engaged in a series of aesthetic measures that have transformed the spatial quality of the neighborhood within a short period of time. They include the cleaning up of small spaces and areas in front of peoples’ homes, creating flower beds in place of concrete curbs, using color and recycled materials to humanize the façades of buildings and exposed infrastructures, creating public artworks, and the staging of collective activities such as painting sessions. All materials used in the project come from waste and garbage found in the neighborhood. The project spread throughout the entire Mauro favela—a compact and dense slum in an inner-city area of São Paulo—with mixed use and typologies, suffering from socioenvironmental degradation and violence. Hailing from a nearby neighborhood, Jeff Anderson moved to a small house in the slum to carry out a residency research project. The collective activity began with the installation of a library open to the residents, and followed with the organization of workshops that transformed waste into objects that supported daily activities and beautified the paths and alleys. The activities have led to a stronger sense of community and to an intense use of the open space (street and alleys), which gave rise to new situations created by the articulation of the created objects and daily activities. The use of open space and the collective contacts has had a positive impact on the built environment and its safety.


SÃo Paulo



Workshops as a Communication Facilitator: Understanding Community Needs Ana Cristina Cintra Camargo, Director of the ACAIA Institute

How did the project start? What motivated you

and a demand that does not come from us, but from the

in a similar manner: there was a demand, particularly

to become engaged?

process. That’s what we learned and continue learning

for drying clothes, since there is a shortage of space

The project began with the sculptor Elisa Bracher, who

here. Their support is crucial, since the work only exists

to do this.

had her workshop in Vila Leopoldina, which was on the

if it is aligned with community interests, with their

way of children who lived in wooden shacks near the

desire, and that makes sense.

How has the project changed or grown? What are the next goals? Where do you envision the

CEAGESP. The project began in response to the great sociocultural and economic discrepancy that exists in

Your project creates a small plaza in the middle

São Paulo. In 1997, Elisa opened the gates of her studio,

of a dense slum in São Paulo, offering diverse

Realizing the unpreparedness of older youth—aged

offering a carpentry workshop for these children.

activities, such as playground, tree shadow,

fourteen and older—to face the world, we decided to

project five years from now?

benches, etc. Did the desire to improve the

increase the educational classes after the workshops.

Which partnerships were created to strengthen

urban environment play a role from the outset?

We also increased the cultural repertoire on Fridays,

your project? What needs did these partner-

How do you assess this achievement?

offering pocket cinema and concerts open to the com-

ships fulfill and how/when were they formed?

The work was born here at the Institute, with the chil-

munity, in an effort to get people to mix. In addition,

You can only propose a project to a municipal secretary

dren coming to the atelier, where we received them. In

the Santa Cruz School (a private school) developed a

or to a major funder after you’ve struggled about four

2004, a boy arrived with a message from the commu-

partnership, in which the ethics and citizenship class

to five years for the work to gain consistency, and get

nity saying that from that moment on we could enter

happens here; however, they do not come to offer

the numbers to present the project. In our case, the

the favela (slum). In 2005, the work began weekly in a

something for students, but come learn by working

first five years were financed by Elisa’s family, which

small area in the favela. We spread a cloth on the floor

side by side with students—one loses the fear of the

gave us ample freedom to work. And then came the

and took a basket with graphic material.


partnership with the Secretary of Participation and

This happened where the atelier shack is located

Partnership and later with the Secretary of Education,

today. That was the only space where the narrow alleys

Is there a dialogue with other stakeholders

for example. Another important thing is that the pro-

widened, allowing the activity to take place without

(municipality, for instance)? What impact does

jects themselves define what to do, and are not created

disturbing their routine. In the first contact, some chil-

to fit the interests of a sponsor. We are not flexible in

dren and mothers joined and eventually those meetings

The Secretary of Social Housing maintains the policy

that, since it could jeopardize the work.

started to take place three times a week. Back then,

of removing these slums. We are aware of how this

this dialogue have on the project?

that space was not built, but was full of garbage. We

happens. In the case of the slum “da Linha,” there were

Was community support important to the setup

started cleaning it very slowly, until one day we organ-

improvements, but the city intends to remove them,

and continuation of the project, and how was

ized the population in a collective effort, which filled

not to urbanize the existing settlement. The architect

this mobilized? Which challenges did you face

two garbage containers. Twice a week we also offered

responsible visited to understand what works, to get

and how were they overcome?

nursing, a different approach to the atelier, because

acquainted with the laundries, the local atelier, so that

In the early years, we had little support from the

there are many people who do not have access or who

work remains if the slum is removed or redeveloped in

community and many years later, having lunch with a

are not authorized to the use of the public health sys-

a new settlement.

community agent, she explained something important

tem. The improvements followed with the purchase

movement, people are closer to each other … you know,

to me: it is believed that when people go to the com-

and renovation of the shack—expanding with permis-

for me it makes my body shake, I like to work and I am

munities, they think they know what the community

sion from whoever owned the plaza. The playground

busy then. I do the laundry, run the daily errands at home

needs. I think we have a very respectful relationship

came when they wanted a space for children, and dis-

and come back to dry them. It helped to organize my life.

with the community. We do not know, and we are al-

appeared when it no longer made sense. Today, there

Soraia Alves de Oliveira, 33, lives at Favela da Linha and runs the

ways learning. Action is always caused by observation

is a big bench where they sit. The laundry appeared

new laundry, which is part of the initiative.

The idea of the laundry was very good. It generates


SÃo Paulo


Arts & culture

“How to Live Together” Lisette Lagnado is an independent curator, professor at Santa Marcelina Faculty

Do you think it is possible that art and culture

Many projects count on artists to identify ur-

How can the impact of grassroots projects be

(artistic & cultural production), in some form,

ban challenges and present creative responses

maximized? How might artists and cultural

provide the “spark” for beginning a grassroots

to them. What is your personal experience of

practitioners contribute to this?

initiative? In which form?

how arts and culture can improve urban life?

For me, the best “cooperation” should take place in

Yes, but only as a “kickoff,” because once it config-

“How to Live Together,” title of the 27th São Paulo Art

the educational field. I’ll explain: the artist can teach

ures a daily and repetitive practice, we are leaving

Biennale, involved artists dealing with urban problems

workshops, give lectures, present their work, and

the sphere of the investigative art and entering the

and challenges.

expose themselves as subject and participative citizen.

field of the crystallization of forms, a phenomena that

The work of Renata Lucas (Matemática Rápida),

He must know his place at the wheel. I imagine their

has other names such as tradition, folklore, etc. What

though almost imperceptible because it mimicked

ideas fertilizing projects like the CEU (Unified Educa-

I understand as culture is an amalgam of different

existing elements of the urban situation, was the one

tional Centers), with creative workshops linked to the


closest to urban intervention. She shed light on local

municipal education program, making regular visits to

problems (the uneven pavement, poor lighting, lack


How does the artist/cultural activist play a role

of green), and managed simultaneously with much

as a communicator, bridging different parts and

simplicity to also bring a solution, albeit on a mi-

intermediating conversations and negotiations

croscale. In the case of artists in residence, I think the

that would otherwise rarely take place?

gain was of another kind: artists like Marjetica Potrc

It is desirable that the artist does not let himself be

(Acre), Francesco Iodice and Shimabuku (in São Paulo)

“domesticated” by the institutional rules. Grassroots,

produced works inspired so strongly in the context,

for me, makes more sense when I think of musical

that when exposed abroad contribute to the dissemina-

manifestations (such as samba and rap), than the artist

tion of symbolic content. They operate outside of their

who express himself through images. This is the differ-

places of origin. This is also part of an economy that

ence between the street graffiti, which effectively has

reverberates about reality.

political and social connotations, and does not allow itself to become institutionalized, and the other graf-

Do you think there is something particular

fiti, which today has became a product as any other, to

about the culture of São Paulo that contributes

serve the frivolous and aestheticizing embellishment.

to the nature of the projects? Only later, I was in contact with practices outside São

We urgently need to learn how to work with conflict and

but an institutional critique that marked my formation

Paulo, where it seems that the formalist Greenbergian

to keep these tensions in the public space, to learn how

was done in the dead of night because they were times

tradition have dominated the scene for too long. In

to make them agencies, update them and incorporate

of military regime. The group 3Nós3 covered public

cities such as Vienna, Berlin, and New York, I learned

them into theories, urban practices; and critical art—the

monuments without negotiating anything with those in

about artistic practices aimed at local communities.

sensitive experience as micro-resistance on or in public

power! Other artists that influenced me when I started

Characteristically, São Paulo is overly market-oriented.

space—might indeed be a big help. Perhaps artists, who

working were Julio Plaza and José Resende, whose ideo-

That’s changing, although it is still a city that has the

already work critically with these “hotspots,” can ef-

logical statement has always been anti-communicative.

most powerful galleries, which nowadays excessively

fectively help us to invent … to arrive at a more incorpo-

participate in art fairs, formatting the “back to the

rated, dissenting and vivacious urbanism.

object,” for the collector.

Paola Berenstein Jacques, architect and urbanist, is a professor at

My generation did not use the word “negotiation,”

To show, to point out, and to comment are ways to intervene. One must understand that there is artwork of more direct intervention—such as Jamac on the

the Architecture Faculty of the UFBA, coordinator of the Urban

outskirts of São Paulo, presented at the 27th Biennial of

Laboratory (http://www.laboratoriourbano.ufba.br) and co-

São Paulo in 2006)—but also films and cartoons play a role in addressing urban problems.

organizer of the platform Corpocidade (http://www.corpocidade. dan.ufba.br).


SÃo Paulo


Ana Cristina Cintra Camargo

Chapter author and interviewer Marcos L. Rosa

is currently one of the directors of the Ateliê ACAIA. She has been in the atelier since the beginning of its activities in 1997,

received his diploma in architecture and urban planning from

when the artist Elisa Bracher decided to open her workshop

the University of São Paulo. He received a scholarship from

space to some children from surrounding poor communities.

the European Union for his PhD thesis at the TU Munich. He

Initially working as a psychologist, she engaged in thinking

has been a guest lecturer and researcher at the Swiss Federal

forms of therapeutic work out of the traditional settings, and in

Institute of Technology in Zurich, Department of Architecture

the organization of the physical and psychical space of ACAIA,

and Urban Planning. Marcos organized the DBUA Award in São

aiming to listen to and train the group of educators from the

Paulo, in 2008, when he set up a research platform based on


the 133 compiled projects. He is the author of a publication of that research entitled Microplanning, Urban Creative Practices

Elisabete França

(São Paulo, 2011). He exhibited worldwide, among which, in the

is an architect and urbanist, and has twenty-five years of expe-

Rotterdam International Architecture Biennale 2010 and in the

rience in urban planning, social housing, slum upgrading, and

International Biennale in São Paulo 2011. He wrote and contrib-

management of participatory projects. Her PhD thesis is on the

uted to several international publications. He was awarded the

slums of São Paulo (1980–2008). She was the Social Housing

Young Architects Award from the Brazilian Architects Institute

Superintendent and Deputy Secretary of the Municipality of

for Microplanning. He works as an independent designer and

São Paulo until 2012, where she coordinated the activities of

won the first prize for “Collective Retrofit” at the 2009 Alcoa

the Slum Upgrading programs, Water Source Program, Cortiço

Design Prize and the Prestes Maia Award for “Urban Paran-

(Slum Tenement) Requalification Program, Social Renting,

golé,” among others. Both his practical work and research

among others, assisting more than 160, 000 families. França is

studies stand for an interdisciplinary and integrative approach

author and editor of several publications on architecture and

in the fields of architecture, urban design, and urban planning.


His current research focuses on the operational mechanisms embedded in these projects and their scaling potential within

Fernando de Mello Franco

existing and proposed urban infrastructural networks.

is an architect and PhD at Facudade de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade de São Paulo. He was professor at USP São

Members of the Jury for the Award in São Paulo:

Carlos, USJT, Mackenzie, and Harvard. He is founding partner

at MMBB Architects in São Paulo. Currently, he is Curator at URBEM—Instituto de Estudos e Urbanismo para a Metrópole, based in São Paulo. Lisette Lagnado

Richard Burdett

Director, Urban Age & Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics

Tata Amaral

Brazilian filmmaker

has her PhD in philosophy from the University of São Paulo.

She was the general curator of the 27a São Paulo Biennale

Art critic and professor at Faculdade Santa Marcelina

(2006) and of “Drifts and Derivations” at the Museo Nacional

Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madri (2010). She coordinated the Leonilson Project (1993–96) and the Hélio Oiticica Project (1999–2002), initiatives that systematize the artists’ archives. She has written several articles and essays. In 2013, she will present the curatory of the 33a edition at the Panorama of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo.

is the Deputy mayor (Subprefeito) of the Sé district, one of São Paulo’s thirty-one administrative districts, subordinate to the Secretary of coordination of Subprefeituras. He worked on the Coordination of Urban Safety City Hall (Coordenadoria de Segurança Urbana da Prefeitura, 2005–08). He is colonel in the Reserve Military Police and formerly served in diverse units of the Military Police. He graduated with a degree in electric engineering and business administration, with extra training in the Police Academy, with extensions in technical, operational, and community police.

Fernando de Mello Franco

Founder MMBB Architects

Raí Souza Vieira de Oliveira

Former soccer player, co-founder and director of the “Foundation Gol de Letra”, a UNESCO model for supporting at-risk children worldwide

Nevoral Alves Bucheroni

Lisette Lagnado

Anthony Williams

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and is the Executive Director of the Global Government

Istanbul Demet Mutman




Population [city]


Average density [metro/city]


Area occupied [city]



Gross domestic product (GDP)


[$bn at PPPs]




Romans, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Arabs, Gypsies, Caucasian, Balkans, Turks


Navigation INITIATIVES Istanbul X

Nurtepe First Step Cooperative

Headline AUThOR’s Name Author’s position in the project etc.

Functions / program: women’s capacity building and community center, skills training, income generation, workshop activities, child care, recreational activities, and leisure. Benefits to the Community: offers a cultural facility with workshops, child care space, a small backyard, garden, and mural; fosters interaction in a learning environment and increases solidarity Positive impact on the built environment: visibility of the community and attachment to the neighborhood via the physical presence of the center; users feel safer in their neighborhood. People involved: cooperative is run by a group of community women and the neighborhood’s families.

2004 ≥ 2012





Action and Participation in Planning Özlem Ünsal works closely with Istanbul-based civil initiatives and neighborhood organizations

What trends dis you recognize in the grassroots

The urban community, the governmental mechanisms,

How do you see these projects impacting on the

projects in Istanbul? Do you think they unveil

and the cities of today are trying to catch up with

urban fabric in the next five to ten years? Do

fields of opportunity for urban design?

new strategies. Interventionist decisions are being

they have the capacity to make a difference?

Grassroots initiatives tend to differ as resistance and

made, new tools and units are brought to life, and the

I am drawn to pessimism based on a dark scenario,

local (working with women and children) organiza-

power difference among the actors during this process

where the city is shaped by the persistent, oppres-

tions, and their impact differs depending on their

increases rapidly. The increasing pressure creates even

sive methods that eventually destroy all civil initia-

objectives. Their biggest problems are raising funds

more fragments, which in turn breaks down the “resis-

tives. On the other hand, I would base my optimistic

and having their statements heard by the ruling

tance,” inevitably diminishing the collective movement.

prediction on non-government initiatives, which are

mechanisms. Despite that, various civil organizations

realized through encouraging local projects, learning

focus and embrace the city’s current needs. I believe

Do solutions germinating in the communities

from various accomplishments, and strengthened by

that this approach has potential, however, the criti-

contribute to livability in some areas? To which

international connections. Small initiatives, which act

pressing issues do they respond? If so, how?

for their own rights, can do more consciously regard-

would enable the realization of such formations. The

It is important to emphasize that their action responds

ing their communal needs, eventually leading the way

needs and requirements of a participatory community,

to the lack of participation in planning. If these kinds

to healthier cities. Ten years ahead, I would wish to

which is formed by diverse crowds and actors, have to

of initiatives start to become a compulsory element

see that these small initiatives, which are born today,

be brought to life through an implementable project.

of the urban planning process, and if such a transfor-

are still alive, with their motivational resources

“Negotiation” in fact, embodies all these concepts.

mation indeed happens, then, the “citizen” not only

strengthened, their strategies sharpened, and having

embraces a key element to improve his/her life quality,

secured a firm and well-defined place inside the gov-

Some of the projects are directly having an

but also takes on responsibility to achieve quality of

ernmental frame.

impact on the built environment and create

life. When the fulfilling of “citizen” demands is guar-

new spatial qualities. Would you identify these

anteed, the form of his/her existence in the city will

In Turkey, a mayor’s use of authority is not always trans-

as potential planning tools? How do you think

inevitably improve as well.

parent. Meanwhile, the demands on behalf of civic groups

cal missing ingredient is the reliable legal base, which

they could inspire or give feedback into architectural/ urban planning practices? And policy?

for increased municipal authority in the name of national Which projects would you say have good poten-

decentralization and participatory democracy have at

Of course it is possible to enable the local initiatives’

tial for replicability? What features should they

times exacerbated this misuse of discretionary powers.

impact on the built environment; however, rather

exhibit in order to be replicable?

This is because Turkey’s city administrations have not

than seeing them as a “tool,” local initiatives should

In order for the local projects to be replicable, their

been completely democratized yet, and strong municipal

become a “subject” and “actor,” within a well-defined

success has to be proven. This does not only rely

authority has created, in most cases, local fiefdoms rather

system. Mixing these actors in the planning process

on civil initiative. The goals have to be realized. An

than widespread civic engagement.

and making their needs a part of the urban planning

initiative can feed on another initiative’s experience—

Ilhan Tekeli, city and regional planner at the Middle East Techni-

might guarantee and improve the quality of life and the

successful or not—and reshape itself. This, in turn, can

cal University and member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences

environment in the city.

create some sort of database. This kind of experience

Small-scale interventions indeed have potential,

transfer is actually a type of mobility, a state of experi-

however, in order to achieve sustainable interventions,

ence transforming itself for repetition; something that

we need two things: a revolution in the governmental

should be able to make the governmental mechanisms

system, and a civil community that is determined and

content. This kind of exchange requires the existence

persistent regarding its demands. Even though its tools

of a platform where different actors can put forward

might not necessarily be equally strong as the govern-

their diverse experiences on diverse grounds. For that

mental mechanisms, urban community has to develop

to happen, the problems in the system’s methodology

pressure mechanisms, which are as strong as possible.

must be fixed in the context of “governmental culture.”





nity to its system. Yet, it is highly critical for the “local statement” and micro-visions to increase, unite, and transform into a powerful and single voice.

Advocating Sustainable and Participatory Models Aslı Kıyak ˙Ingin is architect, designer, and activist

What is your role in combining the missing links of top to down or bottom up? How do you proceed? There are many missing links. Primarily, there is a communication gap and unawareness between the institutions. At this point, our mission is to closely monitor the processes in order to inform the institutions. More importantly, I spend time with the commu-

What is the role of culture, art, economy, politics, politicians, stakeholders, and citizens for rebuilding a city?

How do you think civil initiatives could feed

nity, in order to better understand the spatial, social,

back into the planning process?

and economic infrastructures, and to cooperate with

Civil initiatives and the meetings/workshops we take

them in order to achieve participatory resolution to the

Politicians must transform this debate into a broad

part in as individual participants progress too slowly.

existing problems.

participatory public platform. An open system would

The community still does not perceive its own value;

enable culture and arts to provide an integrationist

and the people are not aware that they have the power

conduct participatory meetings; to cultivate new vi-

impact, shaped by both the environment and the com-

to make a statement. Thus, at this point, it is still not

sions through these meetings; to support and even

munity. The community, on the other hand, must come

easy for “urban awareness” to take shape. While the

improve the participation of diverse social fragments;

out of its passive position to generate its own state-

top-down systems progress rapidly with the impact

and to reach to a larger audience through these newly

ment and put forward its own vision on the reconstruc-

of the decisions that are being taken, the impact of

cultivated visions.

tion of their city. Rather than the generic solutions

bottom-up systems is unfortunately not as efficient.

imposed and executed by the authorities, original and

Even though micro-scale approaches are more imple-

How would you define a good planning model

local approaches developed by civil initiatives must be

mentable and sustainable, a participatory planning is

for the city of Istanbul? What is the difference


still not possible regardless of many strategies that

My intention is to make the “existing” visible; to

from today’s practice?

The existence of a sustainable economy must be

have been tried to clear the way for such an action. In

When considering urban practices, it is not only the

composed of a system that has close relationships with

order for the participatory action to have an impact on

plans that come to mind, but also field management,

the local dynamics inside the city and supports the

urban and strategic planning, administrative traditions

heritage zoning plans, hierarchy, and inter-institutional

existence of smaller production units. There is also the

have to change and the administrative mechanisms

relationships. These, in turn, transform into a more

need for an economic vision, which takes into consid-

have to be redesigned for enabling it.

intricate and sophisticated system. Most of the time,

eration the micro-dynamics and relates and supports them with the macro-dynamics. You are one of the main actors causing an

the community cannot understand nor perceive the In that sense, are there any policies being

patterns in-between these non-transparent and sophis-

How do we gain participation? We do try to get attention

developed to merge top-down and bottom-up

ticated relationships; thus, decisions are made under

through press releases and Hasanpasa Gaswork festivals.

practices to any extent?

ambiguity. The mechanisms have to be simplified and

Through these small-scale interventions, the initiation

impact on the built environment, what is your

Unfortunately, there is no such merging or reconcil-

made transparent so that the local communities can

would possibly develop however there are absolute facts


ing political moves at the moment. However, at the

understand these patterns, decisions, and their impli-

that are cutting the sustainability of the process. If there

Basically, my duty is to actively stand against the

Sulukule Platform, we worked very hard to create such

cations. At this very point, my role is, in fact to expose

is a political issue, such as strategic planning included

ongoing transformation in the city and try to show

reconciliation during the Sulukule demolition pro-

these gaps and disconnections. New steps should be

among the process, then an obstacle appears on the road.

the decision-maker mechanisms alternative solutions.

cess. We did our best to ensure the solution would be

taken in light of the feedback and lessons learned from

We aim to work with the politicians, however, we are

In other words, I try to make the “invisible,” “vis-

achieved through the participation of the residents, but

existing actions. In other words, the subject, objective

seen as competitors for a plot of the city.

ible,” or to reveal that the cities own dynamics can

unfortunately, it did not happen.

and method of a project should be created and under-

Nesrin Uçar, volunteer for the Revitalization of Hasanpasa Gas-

lined through participative action.

works Neighborhood Initiative, private interview by D. Mutman,

suggest alternatives to the current transformation.

There is a very powerful vertical relationship be-

From an architect’s perspective, I try to expose the

tween the higher authorities and the local authority

architectural identity and the economic, social, and

during the process, where the decisions are executed

physical life forms that exist during the urbanization

from the top down. While the local authority is ex-

process. I also concentrate on how existing macro and

pected to represent a diverse and multifaceted com-

micro settlements can be supported by those existing

munity, it inevitably becomes a mere reflection of the


ruling party. The ruling party, in turn, cannot incorporate and mix the dynamism coming from the commu-

April, 2010.




Yeliz Yalın Baki

Chapter author and interviewer

is co-founder of Barıs¸ ˙Için Müzik (Music for Peace), which is

Demet Mutman

a privately financed social project of Mehmet Selim Baki. As

is an architect who focuses on cities, urban development strat-

a devoted volunteer and an academician, she supported the

egies, and possibilities of alternative spatial transformations

initiative from 2004 to 2011. In 2012, the initiative became the Barıs¸ ˙Için Müzik Foundation, and she has been its manager

by using short-term activities. She has a PhD from Istanbul

since then.

of urban transformation by examining short-term activities

Technical University, where she researched alternative models and designs as spatial catalysts. In 2009, she was responsible

Erhan Demirdizen is an urban planner and lecturer, with a Masters degree in

for the management of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award Istanbul. She is part of the Archis Interventions Divided Cities

urban policy planning and local governments. He has worked at

Network, which concentrates on the politics of space within

several sections of the Ministry of Public Works and Settle-

divided regions that do not necessarily have visible borderlines.

ment, as well as at several local authorities. Besides being a

Mutman currently works at T.C. Maltepe University Faculty of

board member of the Chamber of Urban Planners in Ankara,

Architecture in Istanbul and focuses on architectural and urban

he was respectively a member, general secretary and head of the Chamber of Urban Planners, ˙Istanbul branch. He was also a

design, alternative readings of the city, and public spaces.

member of a publishing board for several urban, planning and

Members of the Jury for the Award in Istanbul:

city related journals.

Özlem Ünsal is a PhD candidate at City University of London, Department of Sociology. Among her main research interests are neoliberal urban policies, grassroots resistance movements, and rights to the city. Her thesis focuses on neighborhood movements,

Richard Burdett

Director, Urban Age & Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics

Arzuhan Dog˘an Yalçindag˘

Chair, Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TUSIAD)

originating from the inner-city poverty and conservation zones

of Istanbul. As part of her doctoral research, she works closely

Professor of Sociology, Bosphorus University

with the volunteers for Istanbul-based civil initiatives and

neighborhood organizations, critical of current urban change. Behiç Ak is a cartoon artist, playwright, children’s book author, director, and architect. His children’s books and cartoons have been

Çag˘lar Keyder Behiç Ak

Cartoonist, author, architect

Enrique Norten

Founder, TEN Arquitectos, New York and Mexico City & Miler Chair of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

published in Turkey, Germany, Japan, Korea, and China, and

featured in several exhibitions worldwide. His documentary

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and is the Executive Director

film, The History of Banning in Turkish Cinema—The Black Cur-

of the Global Government

tain, won the best documentary film award in Ankara in 1994.

He also received an honorary award in 2012 for “Contribution

Architect, Mimarlar Design, & Visiting Professor, Harvard

to Architecture,” from the Chamber of Architects for his car-

Graduate School of Design

toons, writings, plays, and his position on environmental and architectural issues. Aslı Kıyak ˙ Ingin architect, designer, and activist. She works in various fields— such as design, architecture, city, production and art—with a focus on social, cultural, and economic aspects. She is also active in the city where urban regeneration or gentrification developments take place, by advocating sustainable and participatory models for the alternative visions. She is the president of the NGO, Human Settlement Association; and also developed the concept of the Made in S¸is¸hane project and initiative, as well as participatory and sustainable practices in order to stop the demolishment of Sulukule.

Anthony Williams

Han Tümertekin

Mexico City Ana Álvarez


Mexico City


Population [metro/city]

20.4 11.2

million million

Area occupied [metro/city]

7,854 1,495

km2 km2

Gross domestic product (GDP)


[$bn at PPPs]

Average density [metro/city]

9,300 5,937

Inhabitants/km2 Inhabitants/km2


Indigenous, Spanish, British, Irish, Italian,German, French, Dutch, Syria, Lebanon, Chinese, Korean, South and Central American, Mexican


Mexico City


Recovering Spaces for Life

Santa Fe is a neighborhood on the west side of Mexico City characterized by extreme socioeconomic contrasts: one can find an “edge city” with office towers that embody Mexico’s participation in the global economy and shanty towns over ravines existing side by side. In 2005, Iberoamericana University—a private institution located in Santa Fe—created the Coordination of Social Responsibility to build a bridge of cooperation between the different university departments and the marginalized areas of the surroundings. Among other initiatives, they fostered the project Recovering Spaces for Life, which focuses on the recovery of public spaces in the neighboring ravines, through different activities that create a sense of belonging in dwellers and promotes the leadership of community members. Under the guidance of the university, different local groups worked together to recover the riverbank, which was previously used as a sewer. They fixed the façades of houses along one kilometer of the river and built a green pedestrian corridor that goes from the riverbank to a formerly abandoned alley uphill, now accessible to disabled people and featuring a playground. They also built a greenhouse for growing tomatoes in what used to be a garbage dump, and transformed a residual space in a corner street with stairs into an open cultural forum. They also run programs for psychosocial risks prevention, technological literacy, job training; and they created a network that allows the people from those marginalized neighborhoods to find jobs at the business area of Santa Fe. Recovering Spaces for Life shows how in highly segregated societies, such as Mexico City, bridges among apparently untouchable sectors can be built and used to transform reality.


Mexico City



Reality Surpasses Us: We Need to Be more Flexible and Porous Felipe Leal is Head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development

Can you summarize the current attitude/policy

Which governmental agencies/programs recog-

need to have flexible tools to adapt. I am quite self-

of the municipality towards urban improve-

nize the importance of community-led initia-

critical about most of the borough and partial pro-

ment and the redressing of inequality?


grams because they become so rigid that they tend to

Stop the city expansion over conservation land and

At the borough level it varies a lot, for it depends to a

complicate rather than rationalize the problems, often

give all the normative elements to make it grow in-

great extent on the sensibility of the authorities. But at

pushing people towards informality. I think we need

ward. We are working for a compact, vertical, shared,

the city’s central government level, there are several

to become more porous in those programs to allow

inclusive, and extroverted city, improving the existing

entities: the Social Development Department, which

grassroots initiatives to find their place in official plan-

infrastructure and offering social housing in the central

supports initiatives from vulnerable groups; the Insti-

ning. On the other hand, the authority has missed the

city to take people out of risk zones and give them

tute of Housing serves many such initiatives, because

opportunity to communicate its vision for urban de-

property certainty. We are also broadening the concept

there is a lot of housing in risk zones; and finally us,

velopment. And for better or worse, it is the authority

of the public realm, looking at it in a more holistic way,

the Department of Housing and Urban Development,

that has the panoramic vision and technical knowledge.

with high-quality infrastructure as a priority.

which in many cases has to legalize or relocate infor-

Local projects can greatly enrich urban development

mal settlements.

with their timely and deeper sight, but they might not

Do you think grassroots can complement the

have the complete overview.

efforts of the public sector to integrate the city

How does this recognition affect the planning

and improve livability in all areas? If so, how?

process in these areas? Can you give an ex-

How do you see the development of local


bottom-up initiatives in the long term? What

I think we should overcome the extremely formal

possible development scenarios might be envis-

vision about public policies connected with urban plan-

Citizens proposed to us a very interesting legal status

ning. Almost all cities have their urban development

of “family condominium.” In Mexico City, the condo-

departments and programs, but in most cases, they

minium generally consists of a building divided into

All of these initiatives—Miravalle, Codeco—suggest

are a set of charters and norms consolidated within

clearly defined spaces with several owners. However,

that Mexico City is like an hydraulic system with many

the institutional policies and the limits of government

it is common to have a property for a family of fifteen

rusty closed valves, which only need to be oiled and

Public infrastructure is gaining a new role in how we

action. That is not bad, but we shouldn’t miss the other

members with three or four couples and where each

opened for an amazing flow to come. We have to use

design and envision the future of our city. I think that his-

perspective that comes from a more refined observer,

uses a room or set of rooms. Land use would say it

the local culture and look at the everyday city—the

torically, Mexico City has been a place of neighborhoods

which is the specific citizen. The problem with those

is single-family property, but it is not, because it is

little square, the garden, the remaining corner, the bas-

and we should move back to that. For instance, something

general programs is that they standardize the physical

a subdivided family. So now family condominium is

ketball court—to dignify them and create activities.

we have lost and should try to recover, are the markets.

and social conditions of cities, when it is really not like

recognized as a subdivided property and this helps in

I think we need to work on that scale.

We have 325 public markets built during the nineteen-six-

that, not even in developed cities. And those who live

services and credits for house improvements.

aged for the future?

ties and nineteen-seventies, which were created for many reasons; of course economic and supply reasons, but also

in physical or social marginalization are in many cases the ones who find new non-formal or non-traditional

Do you see scope for change to current plan-

to build community. These are big opportunities: 325 mar-

ways of organizing space.

ning methods based on the experiences of such

kets organized all around the territory. These spaces have

projects? Do you think that there is a move in

an amazing potential to be transformed into real public

government towards integrating bottom-up

spaces, they can be more permeable, grow, have parallel

with top-down planning initiatives?

services. That is the kind of infrastructure that brings

In Mexico City we have incorporated roundtables or committees that serve local proposals from all kinds of organizations. It all has to be based on dialogue, on understanding the other side, on acknowledging that

Most of the urban planning is still based on the nine-

communities together, because those are places where

there is a degree of specificity that doesn’t allow us to

teen-eighties urban zoning, without an understanding

many things happen.

do things mechanically.

of social problems. But it is not enough to draw things

Laura Janka is an Advisor for the Department of Housing and

on a map, because reality always surpasses us and we

Urban Development.


Mexico City



Braiding the Physical and the Social: A New Social Contract for the City Jose Castillo is an architect, principal of Arquitectura 911SC, and visiting professor at Harvard Graduate School of Design

Did the set of grassroots projects compiled by

To what extent do these grassroots initiatives

a broadening of the stakeholders, but also a broadening

the award open another perspective over the

have a role in creating new citizenship besides

of topics—understanding that urbanity and the experi-


having physical impact?

ence of the city happen in many arenas.

I think that the range, scope, and geography of the pro-

I think that as much as space produces new kind of

posals showed the multiplicities of the city: multiple

citizenship, new citizens produce a different kind of

When one looks at these successful grass-

geographies, topics, and groups—both highly organized

space, and it is not a causality. It is not a chicken or

roots initiatives it is inevitable to think about

and sometimes less organized—but above all multiple

egg dilemma, it is truly a correlation between how

replicating them. How should replicability be

stakeholders involved in the definition and production

new, informed citizens can create new and better

of what an urban project means. In a way, the award

forms of city. And in that regard, those kind of new

I believe that replicability can mean many things. It

showed how many Mexico Cities there are and this

spaces of the city—let us think of a community kitchen,

can mean the enthusiasm for social engagement and

diversity talks about a vitality that was not present

of a PET recycling facilities, of a plaza that is now

the possibility of transformation. It is also about find-

twenty or thirty years ago.

used for dancing lessons—those forms of occupation

ing the way in which the scale of different programs

empower citizens in different ways: from nutrition and

gets played out physically. And it is not a matter of

What was the most remarkable thing about the

fitness to social and leisure activities, from economic

just identifying a successful formula—think of el Faro

award process?

retribution to learning. And I like this relationship in

de Oriente—and sort of using it as a cookie-cutter but

When one goes below the radar, one finds and discov-

which it is not the physical that precedes the social, but

about actually finding the specific contingencies of

ers that there are many narratives already taking place

is actually more of a braid. In braiding the two is that a

groups, site, geographies, and problems and redefining

in the city, some of them supported by social programs

new kind of citizenship is being created.

what an urban action and urban intervention means to-

of the local governments and in some cases by the fed-


day. The other issue of replicability has to do with the

eral government, but also other narratives taking place

Mexico City has a strong tradition of bottom-up

rapport of different stakeholders. I would say the form

by NGOs that we do not necessarily associate with the

initiatives, partly because it is pretty much a

social projects take in the next few years will have to

visible urban actions. I find this incredibly refreshing in

self-made city, but also because after the 1985

do with ingenuity in finding new social relationships.

the context of Mexico. It is fundamental to assume that

earthquake civil society became very active.

alized areas of the city—in suburbs with severe access

the production of politics, the production of citizen-

What was new about the projects compiled in

restrictions. So if they were able to develop themselves

ship, the production of the polis, of the discussion of


separately from the center, I think their potential is

Many of these projects are in the fringes of the margin-

conflicts and resolutions in the city can involve many

I would say there is a new social contract when it

very large; they have a great power. And the problems

diverse agents, and not only traditional ones. The other

comes to urban projects and this social contract

throughout the city are similar, so solutions can also be

remarkable thing is that all these projects have strong

involves different forms of resistance but also differ-

similar, however they must be created within communi-

physical components—a school over here, a set of steps

ent forms of engagement. If I have to say, the big shift

ties; they cannot come or be imposed from the outside.

going down to a ravine, a shed that it is used to cover

from the nineteen-sixties, seventies, and eighties to

Expansion cannot come from the top, because horizontal

a plaza and next to a communal kitchen—that produce

the transformation of the city today has to do with

structures are what make these projects deeply rooted in

social relationships. And I don’t mean to minimize

when the stakeholders have determined it is important

communities. In fact, the most consolidated projects, the

other forms of social transformation, but to go back to

to resist, and when it is important to engage. I think

ones that have been able to expand beyond basic needs

some of the arguments of the Urban Age project: space

it was quite emblematic that the final projects were

and open the social tissue to incorporate other actors, are

matters and sometimes it matters more than we give

not projects created in absolute autonomy. They were

the projects with long trajectories, but also with horizon-

credit for.

projects that shift from autonomy to engagement. They

tal and open structures.

showed different levels of maturity, but the oldest

Betsabe Romero is a visual artist and jury member Deutsche Bank

projects have a learning curve, which includes not only

Urban Age Award—Mexico City 2012


Mexico City


Francisco Javier Conde González

in Mexico City and visiting professor at Harvard University’s

Doctorate in Education from the National Autonomous Universi-

Graduate School of Design. Since 2005, Castillo has been cura-

ty of Mexico. Conde has been working for the Miravalles Marist

tor of various international exhibitions. He is a member of the

School for thirteen years and has promoted educational environ-

Advisory board of SCIFI at SCI-Arc and of the advisory board of

ment programs and social development in the area. Founding

Urban Age.

member of Miravalle Community Council, created in 2007. Chapter Author and Interviewer: Ana Álvarez

Felipe Leal Degree in Architecture from the National Autonomous Univer-

Researcher, editor, curator, and manager of interdisciplinary

sity of Mexico (UNAM). Head of the Department of Housing

projects, focusing on the urban and cultural contemporary

and Urban Development in Mexico City. First Public Space

life of Mexico City. She graduated with a degree in Mathemat-

Authority in the Federal District. Honorary member of the Na-

ics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, but

tional Academy of Architecture. Coordinator of Special Projects

since 2003 has been engaged in exploring, portraying, and

at UNAM, an area that fostered the inclusion of the Central

narrating her hometown. Founding member of Citámbulos,

University Campus in UNESCO’s World Heritage List and that

an interdisciplinary collective of urban researchers formed by

created a new transport system within the university campus.

Fionn Petch, Valentina Rojas Loa, Christian von Wissel. With a

Principal of the School of Architecture at the National Autono-

special focus on daily life and street-level urban phenomena,

mous University of Mexico from 1997–2005. Broadcaster of the

the collective first published Citamblers: the Incidence of the

radio program “Architecture in Space and Time.”

Remarkable, Guide to the Marvels of Mexico City and has since then produced several national and international publications,

Arturo Mier y Terán

exhibitions, workshops, dérives, urban interventions, reaching

Degree in Architecture from the National Autonomous Univer-

a wide variety of audiences and spaces—including the National

sity of Mexico (UNAM) with a Masters in Urban Design and

Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the German Center of

Regional Planning from the University of Edinburgh, and PhD

Architecture in Berlin, and the Swiss Museum of Architecture

candidate in urban planning at UNAM. Researcher, professor,

in Basel. She also worked as coordinator and curatorial advi-

and lecturer at different national and international universities. Since 1990, Director of Technology and Habitat in Large Cities, HABITEC. He is currently a technical advisor on various projects of the Federal District Government Housing Improvement Program and Community Program for Neighborhood Improvement.

sor in Mexico City for the international exhibition Our Cities, Ourselves, which was sponsored by the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy. She was the coordinator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award in Mexico City. Members of the Jury for the Award in Mexico City:

Argel Gómez Visual artist, graphic designer, and cultural promoter. Current coordinator of Central del Pueblo, a new cultural space in downtown Mexico City. He managed the arts and handcrafts workshops at Faro de Oriente, a cultural center in Mexico City, which has become a referent for cultural public policies. At the Faro, Gómez edited six books about cultural policies and teaching experiences in the art field. He studied a postgraduate curse of cultural policies given by Organization of Ibero-American States.

Vanessa Bauche

Actress and social activist

Richard Burdett

Director, Urban Age & Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics

Jose Castillo

Architect, co-founder of arquitectura 911sc, professor at School of Architecture, Universidad Iberoamericana

Denise Dresser

Writer, political anaylist and academic, professor of political Benjamín González

science at Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México

Cultural manager. Cofounder and former principal of Faro

de Oriente Cultural Center. Former director of Culture at the

Founder, TEN Arquitectos, New York and Mexico City & Miler

Greater Metropolitan Municipality of Ecatepec and current

Chair of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

principal of Central del Pueblo Cultural Center. Jose Castillo Degree in Architecture from the Universidad Iberoamericana and Doctorate in Design from Harvard University. With Saidee

Enrique Norten

Betsabeé Romero

Visual artist

Anthony Williams

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and is the Executive Director

Springall, he is the principal of Arquitectura 911sc, a practice

of the Global Government

based in Mexico City. His writings have been published exten-

sively in international journals and publications. He is a profes-

Architect, Mimarlar Design, & Visiting Professor, Harvard

sor at the Universidad Iberoamericana’s School of Architecture

Graduate School of Design

Han Tümertekin

Cape Town Lindsay Bush


Cape Town


Population [city]


Average density [metro/city]


Area occupied [city]



Gross domestic product (GDP)


[$bn at PPPs]




Khoisan, Dutch, English, French, Madagascar, Mauritius, Ceylon, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Germans, Portuguese, Italians, Chinese, Xhosa, Zulu, Other Africans, South Africans,


Cape Town

TIME LINE AND population growth



















Jan van Riebeeck estab-

Capital of the British

Trade to the port is

Growth of planned

Urban planning aims

Large industrial areas

Steady growth of Cape

Abolishment of the last

First democratic elec-

Central City Improve-

lishes a way-station for

Cape Colony. Urban

increased by Highveld

townships on the Cape

for complete “separate

grow up on the outskirts

Flats townships and

of the Apartheid laws by

tion in South Africa sees

ment District (CCID)

ships. Town laid out on

growth continues hap-

gold rush.

Flats: slums Act allows

development”: National

of the city. Railway lines

informal settlements,

President F.W. De Klerk.

Nelson Mandela elected

established with a focus

a Dutch grid pattern and

hazardly at the hands of

Segregation begins,

for forced removals in

Party elected on a plat-

and roads are used to

most notably Khayelit-


on safety and urban

farmlands established.


as native Africans are

the inner city.

form of Apartheid,

strategically separate

sha and Mitchell’s



leading to the Group


Plain. Violent clashes

Urban sprawl: end of

Integrated Development

and forced removals

influx control leads to

Plan (IDP), a 5-year gov-


rural migration and

ernment plan, lays solid

rapid growth of under-

framework for urban improvement.

moved to Ndabeni. 1930s-40s



French Huguenots ar-

The Great Trek: 10,000


Foreshore reclamation


Dutch families leave the

Legislative capital of the

begins, linking harbor to


District Six declared

Colony to travel north.

Union of South Africa is

the central city.

Slum clearance acceler-

a whites-only region


serviced, overcrowded

ates, forcing thousands

and 60,000 forcibly

Touristic development

Cape Flats settlements.

into hostels and tented

removed, many to Lav-

of the V&A Waterfront.

Informal economy and


“emergency camps.”

ender Hill and surround-

It becomes the country’s

violence levels boom

Soccer World Cup builds


most popular tourist

due to unemployment

on infrastructure and


Cape Town.

Areas Act. 1965

40,000 slaves are


imported from West

Immigration: working-


Africa, Madagascar,

class immigrants arrive

Suburban development

India, Ceylon, Malaya,

from all over Europe to

along racial lines is

destination with 1.5 mil-

and inequality.

public space improve-

and Indonesia to work

settle in the city.

influenced by the British

lion visitors monthly.

Gated communities for

ments underway in

on farms.

German farmers de-

garden city movement,

the rich spring up in

the city. World Design

velop Philippi for market

and the oversized, zoned

response to widespread

Capital 2014 bid won by


planning of Modernism.


Cape Town.


Cape Town


Mothers Unite

Born in a mother’s home in 2007, Mothers Unite provides an alternative for children aged three to fifteen: a safe haven from the gangs, drugs, and violence characterizing street and home environments in the Lavender Hill area. A core volunteer staff of six mothers from the neighborhood provides 120 kids with educational programs and healthy meals, three afternoons a week. Programs include storytelling, literacy, computers, and art therapy. Operating on the grounds of the municipal Seawinds Multipurpose Hall, they have built an “infrastructure village” from donated shipping containers, arranged around the perimeter to create an oasis-like space. Facilities include a number of activity rooms, a library, kitchen, office, sheltered area, playground, and vegetable gardens. Mothers Unite have partnered with a range of organizations: securing donations-in-kind from international aid agencies, corporations, and the Church; working with other NGOs to train gardeners and plant trees, and with universities to start training in emergency first aid response. Their newest additions are a wendy house training and yoga center, and a retrofitted container with toilets. In an area suffering from high levels of unemployment, poverty, and domestic violence, the project’s success lies in the way it addresses the family unit. Through providing a safe place for children to play, explore, and develop, the mothers reach out to families to encourage a commitment to community development, and children have shown great improvements in both social interaction and school performance.


Cape Town



Breaking it Down to Build it Up Michael Krause is team leader of the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) program

Can you summarize the current attitude/policy

We need to establish who the intermediary is between

In Cape Town, most of the land occupied by

of the municipality towards urban improve-

government, the public sector, and the community,

projects belongs to the public sector. Many who

ment and the redressing of inequality?

because in practice they are often unable to communi-

take the initiative to “just do it” start out as

We are seeing a big shift from a sectoral focus to an

cate. A forum where different stakeholders can talk to

lawbreakers, yet support from the government

area-based focus. Most of the project entries were

each other is key to any development strategy.

has generally followed. What is your opinion on this?

around people making a change in a particular small area in their neighborhood. The city has understood

Do you see scope for change to current plan-

With nearly a third of people living in informal settle-

this as a positive thing, and it becomes apparent in

ning methods based on the experience of such

ments, it’s almost the norm that you have to begin as

their strategy document, the IDP. The VPUU is a good

projects? Do you think there is a move towards

a lawbreaker. Within any government framework, it

example as its neighborhoods are still manageable for

integrating bottom-up with top-down planning

is very difficult to move change, so you need to have

the city, yet the level of detail makes it possible for


those champions … change always requires action.

people to understand and influence the process.

A current international trend is the “people’s budget,”

Government is realizing that their policies are not

translated in Cape Town as Ward allocations. VPUU,

always applicable on the ground and that people have

Do you think grassroots can complement the

for example, uses a Social Development Fund that’s

needed to embark on a “detour” to get things done,

efforts of the public sector to integrate the city

linked to a local development strategy (the Community

however criminal or violent activities cannot be seen

and improve livability in all areas? If so, how?

Action Plan) and to the broader IDP, opening up many

as a solution to our current problems.

From my perspective certainly, grassroots initiatives

more possibilities. Again, it is about scale. Govern-

are important. Again it’s a question of a scale that

ment favors large-scale projects, and bottom-up initia-

people understand and feel comfortable working with.

tives require small, localized interventions and invest-

Most of these programs have tried to combine strategy

ments. That vehicle needs to be found and the Ward

with implementation, and that’s often the missing link

allocation is a good start. As 99% of these projects sit

within the City: the IDP tries to do it, but it’s often very

within the framework of the IDP, they certainly play

difficult because line departments work in sectoral ar-

an important role. Government organizations face grave difficulties—such

eas. We have to recognize the value of cross-pollinating between strategy and local knowledge. Which governmental agencies/programs recognize the importance of community-led

How do you see the development of local

as lack of capacity and finance, politicization of service

bottom-up initiatives in the long term? What

delivery, vexed inter-governmental relations, cumbersome

possible development scenarios might be envis-

decision-making processes, and lack of flexibility—which

aged for the future?

inhibit cross-cutting analysis and decision making. While

initiatives? How does this affect the planning

I believe the bottom-up approach is the best way to

there is a strong argument for civil society organizations

process in these areas? Can you give an example?

embed democracy in South Africa and fulfill the man-

to become more involved in local development processes,

With the shift in approach, funding is increasingly

date of the Constitution. We are moving from a closed

many have been demobilized, have few resources, or are

allocated on a local-area basis according to need. The

system in the past into a society that is much more

themselves divided. Private sector organizations have re-

city has gained the support of Province and National

open and equal, and the bottom-up approach is part of

sources, but are often out of touch with the complexities

Treasury to work in transversal teams and follow

this shift. What is difficult is for the public sector to

of community and city needs. In many cities, cross-sector

proper methodology, so they begin with a baseline

be open enough to allow these initiatives to flourish.

partnerships are becoming increasingly popular in areas

survey followed by a Community Action Plan, and then

However, I do think there are many opportunities to be

of policy making and implementation that were previ-

seek funding accordingly—that’s a positive move. An

found in the IDP, especially if we focus on that inter-

ously the primary domain of the state. Partnerships, it is

example is the Neighborhood Development Partnership

mediary between government and grassroots.

argued, can be seen as a “new model of governance.”

grants—where the city seeks national funding for focus

Andrew Boraine, CEO of the Cape Town Partnership and DBUAA

areas—and international funding as with the VPUU.

2012 jury member


Cape Town


Carol Jacobs

Chapter Author and Interviewer: Lindsay Bush

Carol is a proud single mother of three who lives in an RDP house in Seawinds, a neighborhood in the Lavender Hill area.

Lindsay is an architect and urban designer who recently

She finished grade seven and went on to initiate Mothers

relocated to Cape Town to manage the 2012 DBUA Award.

Unite, an inspiring, award-winning organization that is gaining

Born, raised, and educated in Durban, her family emigrated

increasing recognition for rebuilding a community through the

to Australia in the mid-nineteen-nineties and she chose to

hearts and minds of its children.

stay behind. She has traveled widely, working and studying in numerous places around the world. Her professional interests

Michael Krause

include urban regeneration, housing, community and educa-

Michael is a place-maker who believes in negotiating solutions

tional spaces, and the in-situ upgrade of informal settlements.

to shape urban environments. He grew up in East Germany,

Lindsay’s work has been profiled in several local publications

studied Urban Design and Spatial Planning, and relocated to

and her most recent contribution was to the book Building

South Africa in 1995. Since 2006, he has led a highly dedicated

Brazil compiled by the MAS Urban Design researchers at the

transversal team of people to implement and develop the VPUU

ETH in Zürich. Since the award, she has been living in Cape

program, which has had significant impact on crime in parts of

Town, setting up a legacy network called Urban Agents, and in

Khayelitsha, creating safe, vibrant public spaces in one of the

the coming years will be applying her skillset to the facilita-

city’s poorest areas.

tion of the World Design Capital 2014 Ward projects. Lindsay is passionate, energetic, and fiercely optimistic about the

Edgar Pieterse

future of her beloved country.

Director of the African Center for Cities at UCT, Edgar is a native Capetonian whose research and publications cover such

Members of the Jury for the Award in Cape Town

themes as African urbanism, cultural planning, regional and

macro development, and governance. He fills several teaching and advisory roles and holds the DST/NRF SA Chair in Urban Policy. Malika Ndlovu Malika is an internationally published South African poet, play-

Andrew Boraine

Chief executive of the Cape Town Partnership, adjunct professor at African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

Richard Burdett

Director Urban Age & Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics

wright, performer, and arts activist. She has lived most of her

adult life in Cape Town, has wide range of experience in arts

Poet, playwright, performer and arts consultant

management and currently operates as an independent artist

under the brand New Moon Ventures, working towards healing through creativity. Councilor Shaun August Shaun August grew up playing on the streets of Lavender Hill.

Malika Ndlovu Enrique Norten

Founder, TEN Arquitectos, New York and Mexico City & Miler Chair of Architecture, University of Pennsylvania

Edgar Pieterse

Director of African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town

His strong organizational skills, discipline, and familiarity

with the criminal element come from ten years as a warden at

Civil rights campaigner and clinical psychologist, chief execu-

Nonfundo Walaza

Pollsmoor prison. A committed family man, he is well known

tive of Desmond Tutu Peace Center

in the community and was elected as the Democratic Alliance

Councilor for his very own Ward 67.

Former Mayor of Washington, DC and is the Executive Director

Anthony Williams

of the Global Government

Common Points


common points


Cities Are an Expression of Human Needs Wolfgang Nowak was the initiator of the Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award

In your view, what do the projects associated

and urban environments? This is the lesson learned

Town’s Mothers Unite, for example. It could become

with the DBUA Award achieve? What simi-

from these initiatives, the tremendous power and

an aflourishing, fantastic center for that area, which is

larities and differences stood out between the

capability of what local residents and ordinary people

secure, inviting, and has something to offer through an

projects in different cities?

can do and achieve.

educational project hosted in a civic space. That is the

These projects are very similar. There is always a

vision of one center, which would also be connected to

meeting place, a garden, a kitchen, an educational

How do you see the potential for the develop-

facility; a place where people come together to learn,

ment of such projects impacting cities in the

to teach, to share and exchange experiences and ideas,

future? Are they scalable and/or replicable?

and to be citizens. In most of the cities, we found these

Or, which features that you recognize as being

similar formations. In my opinion, the only difference

specific to the nature of these projects have the

was in Istanbul, where these spaces seemed to be

potential to develop further?

introverted; there we found a music school for young

We should not replicate them. (We have replicated

students that learn how to play an instrument.

shopping malls!) I imagine we should have a thousand

If we look back to the first settlements in human

other “centers” throughout that city.

different “centers,” like in the jungle where we find a

history, it has always been about providing residents

diversity of beautiful new plants. These initiatives are

with safety, food, a spiritual center; and one might also

a great experiment of people finding out what a better

notice the similarity of their plans. I think cities are the

city can be. They imply the argument that we should

expression of human needs and that we have a “plan”

enable people to initiate and build something, not ex-

of what a city should be inside us.

actly replicating them, but encouraging their participation within a framework.

Overall, do you think these initiatives have

I think we should protect those community initia-

been successful? If so, what key lessons might

tives, which keep cities livable and enrich them. We

we learn from them?

should protect them from investors. We should take

Cities are no longer built for humans, they are built

these initiatives as a reference and learn from them.

for investors. They have become like machines, not to house people and to create an environment that en-

Can you envision possible future scenarios re-

ables them to live a better quality of life. They consist

sulting from the pioneerism displayed in these

of iconic buildings designed by star architects but are


Wolfgang Nowak is Director of the Alfred Herrhausen Society, the International Forum of Deutsche Bank. Wolfgang Nowak initiated the Urban Age program, an international investigation into the future of the

in the danger of becoming as boring as shopping malls.

If we want to be successful, the city of the twenty-first

world’s mega-cities in the twenty-first century jointly organized

Every mayor seems to be happy to have these super-

century cannot, for instance, have only one center.

with the London School of Economics. He has held various

stars designing cities, but they are only designing sky-

These cities can be enriched by having multiple, dif-

senior positions in Germany’s state and federal governments,

lines. Instead of concentrating on skylines, we should

ferent centers built by a multitude of people with

be building cities thinking of human needs and ground

different backgrounds. I don’t mean to build ghettos,

realities. It is not only the investor and the architect

but many centers where different communities and

who should participate in planning. It is important to

ethnicities can mix and thus foster diversity. In this

Political Analysis and Planning at the German Federal Chancel-

engage and involve the people who live there as well.

scenario, we should have a multitude of city centers

lery from 1999 to 2002. He lectures and publishes widely on

Finally, we should have an assessment of what is being

created by citizens. This could look a bit like the dif-

built by the inhabitants themselves. We should ask: is

ferent markets in different neighborhoods—which are

this environment enabling people to have a better life

all very attractive, as we know from London, Paris,

or is it only creating static monument-like buildings

Berlin or São Paulo—that greatly enrich a city. See Cape

France’s Centre national de la recherche scientifique (French National Center for Scientific Research) in Paris, and UNESCO. After unification, he was State Secretary of Education in Saxony from 1990 to 1994. In addition, he was Director-General for

academic issues and is a regular commentator for German television and newspapers. He is honorary Vice President of the British think tank Policy Network, Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution in Washington, and Fellow at the NRW-School of Governance at the University of Duisburg-Essen.


common points

Final Considerations

and facilities. The social mechanisms behind these initiatives reveal new modes of negotiation, participa-

cities, we would like to draft some conclusions that

Marcos L. Rosa and Ute E. Weiland, editors

tion, and cooperation. Spatially, they reveal fields: the

might point out pathways towards the planning and

spaces they occupy, in which they install or take place.

construction of this open, inclusive, participatory city.

Their tactical nature produces operational knowledge

We aim to identify and pull together common threads,

through the design of strategies that change specific

assess the potential of their combined efforts and find-

Based on the material compiled for each of the five

spots, applied over short or longer timeframes. They

ings, and indicate actors that might lead the way in

Spatiale (1960), among many others. Authors such as

rarely design to determine, tending rather to arrange

developing possible new scenarios.

The discussion around participatory processes in urban

Jane Jacobs were dedicated to the study of the neigh-

open, flexible frameworks that can evolve over time

planning is by no means a new one. In recent decades

borhood scale and diversity in local design (1961). Jan

and accommodate several overlapping programs. These

however, we notice an increasingly humanistic ap-

Gehl’s work in Copenhagen demonstrates the success

three aspects introduce perspectives that give us clues

1. The Social Mechanisms and Operational

proach towards the revindication of cities.

of “cities designed for people,” (1987, 2010) and par-

as to how we may begin to approach modifying the

Modes of Community Initiatives

It can be seen in the work of art collectives with

ticipatory experiences and processes have also found

planning “status quo.”

local communities during the nineteen-nineties (Bour-

fertile ground in developing countries such as Brazil

riaud, 1998; Kester, 2004; Bishop, 2006), and more

(Lagnado, 2006; França, 2012). Yet, with a few excep-

pronouncedly in the last decade in architecture, urban

tions, participatory planning has, to a great extent,

A marked improvement can be seen to result from

Projects start in response to issues that directly affect

design, and urbanism: community initiatives, “Do-it-

remained in the realm of theory. In light of a growing

each of the initiatives profiled in this book. They re-

people’s lives. The nature and intensity of problems

yourself” building, and other means by which tactical

culture of participation, could we then propose that we

move garbage, plant new trees and gardens, organize

varies from city to city, as do the projects and pro-

knowledge is implemented and tested on site (Smith,

are moving from a theoretical discourse to a practical

community meeting places, upgrade open spaces for

grams implemented to solve them.

2007; Borasi and Zardini, 2008; Christiaanse, 2010; Seji-


activities, construct clean toilets, build playgrounds,


ma, 2010; Lepik, 2010; Ho, 2012). These processes allow

Small-scale, self-driven community initiatives

Recognizing Problems, Unveiling Potential, Making Community Initiatives Visible

Inspiring Solutions

In Mumbai, the lack of sanitation, the prevalence

libraries, and classrooms for workshops and skills

of disease, and the lack of communal space and

for direct and proactive participation in the construc-

provide immediate solutions to urgent, everyday

training. They have added value to the built environ-

services in slums are the sort of problems that act

tion and adaptation of cities according to local needs.

problems, in the form of social innovation. Do they also

ment, whether by conscious acts or by experimental

as strong motivators for community projects. As ob-

contribute towards a better scenario? Can they effect

evolution over time. They upgrade derelict spaces

served, sanitation and recovery programs often start

unable to provide for large portions of their cities’

positive transformation? Will these initiatives remain

into more harmonious and beautiful places, creating

by cleaning an area with the help of a community, an

inhabitants. Imbalances are rife: some have too much,

local, or will they be incorporated by governmental

qualities that forge encounters and coexistence, and

important step as it tackles not only the problem of

while others have too little, and the latter can justifi-

frameworks and policies? Should these innovations

transform residents’ perceptions of everyday life. We

waste, but also the culture of littering and dumping

ably become distrustful of or lose faith in governance,

influence the rules that determine the way we act in,

are interested in understanding how these processes

on the city’s streets and vacant lots. Jeff Anderson

its policies, and plans.

educate, govern, plan, and build our cities?

take place, how the operative notion of the “common”

who started Biourban (p. 76) in São Paulo explains

is generated. It is our intention to make the processes

how the cleaning of those garbage dumps repre-

For a whole host of reasons, governments have been

Does this motivate people to participate, to make

The innovation here is not necessarily about a

their voices heard and be actively involved in the inher-

final product, or about physical built space. These are

visible, document them and share the compiled

sents a sudden change in attitude towards collective

ently political process of city-making? Both in spite of

important pioneer testing grounds, where process is


space; a change that fosters community organization

poor relationships, and because of sound partnerships

paramount. They uncover inventive ways of reading

with municipal governments, citizens are becoming

and responding to urban realities, and present learning

present enormous potential to catalyze urban change,

such as the addition of plants, urban furniture and


opportunities by way of exchange in observing other

based not only on their accomplishments, but also

playgrounds—new meeting spaces that are used by

cultures, experiences, and cities. They reveal the fragil-

on what they can teach us. Their mechanisms and

residents like small, open-air living rooms.

ety is becoming increasingly engaged in actions that

ity of a deterministic urban model that relies on aged

operational models have the potential to feed back

aim to improve the common urban environment. The

instruments and regulations that fail to respond to the

into the architecture and urban planning disciplines,

explains how the reality of hungry kids playing in the

nineteen-sixties was a decade in which a participa-

complexity inherent in our cities. What kind of plan-

augmenting the palette of tools with which they shape

street with nowhere to do homework or research,

tory culture was marked by radical political moments

ning knowledge might we draft from these projects?

the city. A new culture of planning and design informed

inspired her to make the first move. A high number of

by grassroots initiatives would involve assembling a

education and skills training programs, often combined

When we talk about active participation, civil soci-

and demonstrations that made a call for participation

We might start by questioning the importance of

The community initiatives showcased in this book

and further translates into physical improvements

In Cape Town, Carol Jacobs of Mothers Unite (p. 182)

(Debord, 1961), focused in the everyday (Lefebvre,

these initiatives to the adaptation of urban space.

more inclusive, transversal, transparent, and porous

with urban farming, address the city’s most pressing

1947, 1961,1981; de Certeau, 1980), and this gave rise

Politically, they are fundamental to unveil real demands

framework inside which these projects could flourish.

issues. Problems of similar nature have inspired action

to participatory urban design and planning. Concepts

and make legible flaws in current policy, a prereq-

These initiatives also have potential to impact upon

in Mexico City. Communities realized they were los-

of open frameworks that invite interaction have been

uisite to moving forward. Socially, they act as soft

urban policy, and can provide valuable lessons for

ing areas for much-needed public space and services,

translated in visions such as Constant Nieuwenhuys’

infrastructure, working with the city at a local level

governance, not least around strategies for community

and reacted by defending and appropriating existing

New Babylon (1959–54), and in Yona Friedman’s La Ville

to provide neighborhoods with much-needed services


derelict land to create facilities for health, food, work,




Headline AUThOR’s Name Author’s position in the project etc.

Profile for marcos lros

Handmade Urbanism. From community initiatives to participatory practices.  

With the world‘s stark urbanization, the engagement of citizens to improve their urban environments is also growing. Far from the traditiona...

Handmade Urbanism. From community initiatives to participatory practices.  

With the world‘s stark urbanization, the engagement of citizens to improve their urban environments is also growing. Far from the traditiona...