Pure Space. Expanding the Public Sphere through Public Space Transformations in Latin American Spontaneous Settlements by Elisa Silva, founder of Enlace Arquitectura, is a much-needed look at public space and housing that not only explores projects but also analyzes how they operate, taking into account the complexities of planned and unplanned situations in Latin America. In this tension between spontaneous settlements and cities that invest to reverse this trend, public space becomes the transformative element. This book draws out the importance of these issues in a multi-performative way, addressing the role of architects and urban designers as well as the importance that an effective public space has for cities today. With its focus on the relationship between housing and public space within these complex narratives, it is a great accompaniment to our recently published publication NESS.docs 2: Landscape as Urbanism in the Americas, which includes Enlace Arquitectura’s project Plaza Jorge Somaca and looks at the potentials for thinking landscape as urbanism in the region. Below is a sneak peek of the book.
“… the publication is not intended to serve only as a catalogue, guide, or manual on how to produce public space in spontaneous settlements. Rather, this publication goes beyond the aims of an index of best practices. It is intended, instead, as an empirical base for critical and theoretical engagement with the problematics of development, social inclusion, public investment, (in)formal settlement, civil society, and the public sphere.”– Elisa Silva, from the Introduction
Public policy on urban improvement in spontaneous settlements has too often focused solely on housing solutions which in reality can only represent a partial answer given the overwhelming number of people living in spontaneous settlements. Self-built homes have allowed families and individuals to resolve the unmet housing demand. They have also created communities that in many cases date back to anywhere between sixty and one-hundred years. Nonetheless, they remain marginal and segregated from city dynamics, revealing that improvement efforts alone have not been enough to lift the stigma from these territories.
The arguments of the book acknowledge the key role of public space not only to improve the physical conditions of spontaneous settlements in cities of Latin America and the Global South, but additionally as a tool to advance urban integration.
AUTHOR: Elisa Silva / SIZE: 17 x 24 cm.; 6.7 x 9.5 in. / PAGES: 272 / ILLUSTRATIONS: Color / COVER: Softcover / PUBLICATION DATE: August 2020 / PUBLISHER: Actar / PRICE: 35€ $39.95 £32 / AVAILABLE AT actar.com