[1] The idea of architecture is not static but changeable, and therefore, a better way of understanding this, is considered it as a process (spatial network?). Architecture is one of the disciplines of human spatiality; both the architectural objects and the produce/adaptation of their surrounding environment, are cultural results; space, function, form, ornament, structure, organization and synekism are some of its general elements; and for its practice it is also necessary to consider particular elements (color, light, texture, etcetera), the context (natural and cultural), elements of practice (arches, columns, pilasters, pinnacles, volutes, among others) and values (economy, sustainability, etcetera); the architecture is characterized by the search of “beauty”  and living conditions; it could be hybrid, multifaceted, and everyday life, in that way it is better as many people as possible get involved; architecture could be conceived by professional architects or by vernacular ones, and  it should be conceived  by both of them; the architecture has a significance relation with the socioeconomic circumstances where it is built.

During the last two centuries, the world has experienced a rapid urban growth; it is expected that this process of urbanization, without precedent in the human history, will continue during the twenty-first century, the growth of world population by 2030 is going to take place in urban areas. According to these bases, it seems that epistemological knowledge of built environment should be changed. We need to open the dialogue radically and permanently, in order to find new proposals for analysis and urban-architectural interventions; a new open-ended perspective, that allows architecture with the potential of growing and changing. Nowadays, new electronic geography appeared (artificially intelligence, webs of virtual reality, cyber spatial communications, among others); the “elsewhere” that was once clearly, it is drawn into a complex symbolic zone, the hard materiality of architecture seems to be insufficient for the comprehension of the spatial phenomenon.

When talking about spatiality, it is talked about architectural artifacts, urbanism, planning, geography, cities, history, agglomeration process and city-space. About all the concepts that are included in the city as a topic, the force generated by the stimulus of urban agglomeration is what allows us to consider another hypothesis about the origin of cities and from there on propose the continuity of the evolutionary sequence : hunting, gathering and proto-cities – agriculture –villages – cities—states—new proto-cities of the twenty-first century– _________ –.

Urban vernacular settlements (favelas) they constitute the contemporary proto-cities. Cities have always been planned; the different social organization forms are manifested into urban space since the beginning of the time. The periphery of the large Latin American cities was built outside the formal planned city; plans and projections were made without considering it, formal planning was responsible for the “inside” city; with the emergence of postmetropolis and its complex dual city, conventional coordinates that structured urban space were completely modified and, the formal city was invaded by informal one, the physical boundaries were blurred.

The proto-urbanization (and proto-architecture) generated by emergency planning in neo-vernacular settlements, represents a dynamic and expansive phenomenon. The cities of the twenty-first century are facing serious problems, the creation of new urban systems is necessary, in that sense, the evidence efforts have been many, but much more are needed.

As general  ideas are aimed to develop urban-architectural projects which be able to face the challenges of contemporary cities, I propose to consider the following: the urban vernacular architecture as an open-ended space, where the “vernacular” has a dynamic reinterpretation; collaborative processes of re-vernaculization, for both architectural object and urban fabric, to address the environmental defiance of post-modern metropolis,  and it will allow a new way of relation between humans and the natural-cultural environment; the remapping of the new proto-cities of twenty-first century as a starting point for the conciliation process between formal and informal planning; and finally, the creation of  a “new” urbanism or post-urbanism, that is based on the comprehension of “urban (neo) vernacular settlements“, and from there on that is proposed “laws” of dynamic reinterpretation which consider the uncertainty as the only thing certainty in the current times.

The first step, it should be to “break” the binary basis of the architectural epistemology, opening to theoretical and practical proposals of the third moment of human spatiality, that is, the “lived space” (everyday life); considering it is given the importance of architectural intangibility, as well as all the aspects mentioned above. Hence, this must be the point of departure in the generation of participatory design models for urban vernacular housing. For instance, my proposal constitutes an uninterrupted process: 1. “Threenary” approach (real/imagined/real-hyperreal) 2. Analysis of the obtained “knowledge” 3. First idea 4. “Threenary” approach (real/imagined/real-hyper real) 5. Analysis of the obtained “knowledge” 6. Second idea (Fig.5) 7. “Threenary” approach (real/imagined/real-hyper real) 8. Analysis of the obtained “knowledge” 9. Third idea 10…


Inside the model, it could be a lot of different models with flexible structures. The most important is that the process follows a natural course according to the circumstances in which it develops; it is suggested to return to the “field” after the application of the “ideas”, and to record the “real” architectural result; only from there it would be possible a critical review of the participatory experience, that allows us to continue working valid projects for the complex universe of “those” other settlements.

Photos & Images by Diana Maldonado

[1] Maldonado, Diana. Architectural Design Model for Urban Vernacular Housing. First proposal. The Research Project was supported by Fulbright-García Robles Grant & Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), Mexico, 2011-2012

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