An urban design framework of informal development stages Exploring self-build and growth in informal settlements


The Routledge Handbook of Urban Design Research Methods. 

Thematic section 'Informality.'



An[ Urban Design Framework of Informal Development Stages: Exploring Self-Build and Growth in Informal Settlements

Jota Samper PhD (0000-0001-8864-2873) - ORCID



A recurrent framework of defining informal settlements (IS) is in the singular goal of reaching formality. As such, development agencies define "slums[ " as areas that "lack" expected features of the formal city (e.g., durable housing, sufficient living area, access to improved water , access to improved sanitation facilities and secure tenure). Forcing the lack of (formal) framework overlooks the processes that make these urban forms and communities who live there different from traditional western perspectives of city-making and urban design. Communities' self-build processes and the areas' constant growth are indeed informal settlements' most salient morphological features. These features then permit the identification, mapping, and creation of geometrical models that ultimately help scholars predict informal settlements' growth. Part of the challenge of an accurate definition of informal settlements is limiting our understanding to a set of fixed characteristics regarding an urban form, which in reality is in constant flux. This chapter explores current practices and methods of exploring informal urban forms. Finally, the chapter postulates a morphological framework for classifying and studying IS in predictable Informal Development Stages (IDS). This framework understands urban growth as a relationship between population growth and building growth that can be separated into three unique linear stages: Foundation, Infill, and Consolidation. Each stage's characteristics set up opportunities for research and urban design in these urban forms.