Zube Lecture - David Gouverneur

Thursday, November 16, 2017 -
16:00 to 17:00
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Design Building 170
Event Subhead: 
Informal Armatures: Shaping the Self-Constructed City
Event Description: 

David Gouverneur (Associate Professor of Practice, PennDesign) will present " Informal Armatures: Shaping the Self-Constructed City, derived from research on the book: Planning and Design for Future Informal Settlements/Shaping the Self-Constructed City"

David Gouverneur. M.Arch in Urban Design from Harvard University (1980), and B.Arch from the Universidad Simón Bolívar in Caracas, Venezuela (1977). Former positions: Chair of the School of Architecture and Professor in the Departments of Architecture, and City and Regional Planning at Universidad Simón Bolívar. National Director of Urban Development of Venezuela. Co-founder and Professor of the Urban Design program, and Director of the Mayor's Institute in Urban Design at Universidad Metropolitana, in Caracas. Currently: Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. Twice recipient of the G. Holmes Perkins Award for distinguished teaching at PennDesign. Co-recipient of the Venezuelan National Architecture award in 2000 and in 2016. His main area of research focuses on the notion of Informal Armatures, a method to address the rampant Self-Constructed urbanization, the dominant urban form in many countries of the Global South. His professional practice focuses on improvement of existing informal settlements, the rehabilitation of areas affected by extraordinary natural events, and the rehabilitation of cultural landscapes.

The developing world is urbanizing at an astonishing rate. Cities in developing nations are becoming some of the largest, most complex, and challenged urban agglomerations in history. As communities self-construct their dwellings a significant percentage of urban growth occurs as informal settlements. However, these areas often lack infrastructure, transportation systems, community services, public spaces, amenities, and means for governance. With the growing social divide between formal and informal settlements, cities become dysfunctional. To deal with these challenges cities have utilized conventional planning methods, social housing, and “Site and Services programs”. Due to nature and magnitude of the informal urbanization process, however, they have had only limited success.

This book provides an overview of my recent book, Planning and Design for Future Informal Settlements: Fostering the Growth of the Self-Constructed City. This publication sheds light on how to guide the sustainable growth of the predominantly informal city by providing criteria, clues for spatial organization, and performative mechanisms. Drawing from years of experience and research, it introduces the notion of Informal Armatures (IA) as a design and managerial approach to informal urbanization. Beginning from early stages of occupation, the approach also allows for agile transformations as the settlements evolve to become part of much larger urban systems.

The IA approach derives from previous studies and projects, considering their planning and design principles and practical results. While analysing emblematic Latin American examples, IA illustrates challenges common to the informal city globally. These challenges include: 1) the inadequacy of the sites where informal growth tends to occur, 2) deficient mobility and accessibility, 3) the difficulty of securing public or communal land required to provide shelter, services, jobs and amenities, 4) unbalanced urban systems, making informal areas highly dependent of the formal city.

IA also deals with environmental strains, important issues in contemporary urbanism. It additionally highlights the need for innovative forms of public/communal and private cooperation to orient the urbanization process, as well as means to foster a culture of inclusion and peace. IA is a call for urgent action. Providing that there is political will, transparency, and technical skills to accompany the process of informal urbanization, IA offers simple, straightforward solutions to the challenges of informal settlement.