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Approaches to On-Site Revitalisation of Informal Settlements – Oscar Carracedo García-Villalba, National University of Singapore

By on October 2, 2016
Lecturer - profile

Oscar Carracedo García-Villalba

Asst Prof.

Main affiliation
National University of Singapore






Oscar Carracedo is an Architect, Urbanist and Assistant Professor of the Department of Architecture at the National University of Singapore. He is the chair of the DRIA-Designing Resilience in Asia symposium and international competition, co-chair of the Asian Streets Symposium, and principal investigator of the InnerHoods Lab, where he develops his research on informal urbanism, integrated planning and liveability.
Drawn on his research he has recently published ‘Naturban’ about the relationship between urban and natural milieu, and ‘Urban Revitalization Strategies for Low-income communities in Manila’, dealing with alternative urban development strategies for the renewal of low-income urban settlements.

English Proficiency

Previous experience of recording video lectures

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Frequency of lectures
Very often

Recording opportunities
Habitat III attendance and availability
17-20 Oct. The lecture was recorded in Jakarta, after discussing with C. Acioly we agreed on adding some materials.


Main themes
Slum Upgrading
Planning and Design

Approaches to On-Site Revitalisation of Informal Settlements

The lecture focuses on the paradigm shift in the urban renewal processes applied to the informal and low-income settlements.

Issues which the lecture addresses
In the current scenario marked by an economic and housing production crisis, and greater social involvement, where urban development is expected mainly to happen in cities, we take on a number of challenges concerning human settlements and housing, and their planning.
Based on these arguments, the sole provision of housing by urban programs becomes inappropriate and insufficient. The lecture addresses the systemic approach to “on-site” strategies and as one of the essential changes in the urban renewal policies towards more resilient, sustainable and integrated neighbourhoods.

Short analysis of the above issues
The research is based on the qualitative and quantitative analysis of different on-site experiences in low-income and informal settlements in Asia and Latin America studied in the Innerhods Lab. In addition, the research incorporates the critical and innovative thinking by developing concrete urban proposals.
Moreover, the research draws on the fact that urbanization is an unavoidable process and, to prevent this growth from continuing to happen in an informal and unplanned way, cities must shift towards the recognition and revitalization of the informal and low-income tissues as a part of a sustainable development process and an inclusive and participatory policy.

Propositions for addressing the issue
Oscar Carracedo proposes eight fundamental actions aligned to the UN-Habitat principles that will impact our urban environments once incorporated as a part of the urban programs and revitalization policies and processes:
1. Connect – Spatial connections seek to integrate the informal city within the formal city as well as to facilitate residents’ access to potential work places and services, which helps to reduce inequality and increases social resilience.
The role of these connections, which are incorporated at both the local and the larger (city-wide) scales, is not only to provide the physical structure that links to the formal city, but also to create the support system for social and economic integration.
2. Collectivise – Public and collective space encourages the development of social cohesion and capital, improves quality of life, and promotes the sense of belonging, which results in community engagement and care for the neighbourhood. The creation of collective spaces for the community constitutes a key element toward the revitalisation of informal and low-income neighbourhoods.
3. Decentralise. Decentralisation is necessary to include people in decision-making in order to ensure that the provision of public services matches the local needs. Decentralisation is based on an even and democratic systematic distribution of management at different levels, which increases the redundancy and flexibility of systems by promoting autonomy and creativity to find alternative and innovative solutions.
4. Train – EEducation, culture, and training improves access to employment opportunities that will revert into the local economy, creating jobs, entrepreneurship, greater appreciation for the living environment, and consequently urban revitalisation.
5. Shelter. The fifth strategy is to shelter. International human rights law recognises everyone’s right to adequate housing and shelter. However, it has been proven that the sole provision of housing does not necessarily resolve the issue of informality and poverty. Rather than the understanding of housing as an objective or a formalised final product to provide, this topic understands it as a system in a process of continuous adaption to local aspirations.
6. Intensify. In relation to sheltering, the intensification and densification of informal and low-income neighbourhoods can be considered to be a part of the regular stages of development. Working with these two concepts in specific locations as a revitalisation strategy allows for reducing the impact on consolidated areas while introducing transformative synergies within the existing fabric.
7. Activate. Activation constitutes an empowering and strengthening process that has the potential to catalyse the autonomous upgrading of neighbourhoods. Securing and enhancing economic sustenance is considered a revitalisation strategy that will strengthen the local economy and help to improve the quality of life for the low-income residents.
8. Secure. Security of tenure constitutes a central component toward successful urban renewal proposals, since it provides protection against forced evictions, promotes inclusion and attachment to the site, and likely people’s investment in their own houses. Moreover, security of tenure positively impacts the provision of urban services and infrastructure, which improves the economic situation of the urban poor.

Additional Reading Materials
– “Ibid./ In the same place. On-site Resilient Revitalisation Strategies for Informal Neighborhoods”. Oscar Carracedo. ORO Ed. Singapore. 2016.

– “The Form Behind the Informal. Spatial patterns and street-based upgrading in revitalizing informal and low-income areas” In ‘Asian Urban Places’. Ed. CASA. Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture. National University of Singapore. 2014.

– “Shaping informality. The role of street-based strategies in revitalizing informal and low-income areas”
In ‘Designing Productive Cities’. Ed. Urban Design Conference. Adelaide. Australia. 2014.

– “Regenerating neighborhoods through identity and community places. Planning and developing strategies for resilient informal settlements”
In 7th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism. IFOU. Tainan. Taiwan. 2013 Conference proceedings.

– “Upgrading suburbs in Latin American Context. A management and transformation review of the slums”
In 25th ENHR Conference. European Network for Housing Research. Tarragona. Spain. 2013. Conference Proceedings.