Most of the schools of architecture in Latin America have been considered theory as history, although, from this perspective, the other urbanization (favelas) has been marginalized from the scholar discourses, which they are still dictated by a powerful center [theory as neo-colonialism?]. In addition to this, the urban–architectural professionals are focused on the three-dimensional world [theory as architecture], leaving the multidimensional everyday life activities (spatial experience) with a tangential consideration (Nezar AlSayyad, 2014). A sharp review, of the “modern” practices of theory, seems to be necessary.
Latin America is the most urbanized and unequal region in the world. According to the statistics, the South-continent has 623 millions of inhabitants, and approximately 187 millions of them live in poor conditions. This number is manifested in the geography as squatter settlements. Still the general idea, the megacities of the region only concentrate 14 per cent of the population, while more than a half of urban inhabitants live in secondary metropolis. The “other urbanization” represents the linking element between this city-typology.
The intervention/inclusion proposals for the favelas have been thought from the outside: “superblocks”; serial housing; habitat production by participation processes; public space; and architectural artifact as public space. Nonetheless the efforts of the spatial professionals, the other urbanization are built parallel from the “formal planned city” [theory as praxis]; hence, concepts like sustainability, the right to the city, urban rights (Jordi Borja, 2013), have become complex ideas that challenge any urban future [theory as utopia]. This paper argues that is possible to build a theoretical assemblage to engage the other urbanization of Latin America, through the multiple connections (Rob Shields, 2013) between three theoretical main areas: thought, action, and speculation, the spatial scholars would create maps to propose future projects [theory as material].
The “other urbanization” is not free of hegemony and spatial injustice (Edward Soja, 2010); however, it represents the continuing resistance, the Terra Incognita where architectural theory should be rethought (Rob Shields, 2003). Using favelas as examples, I firmly propose a theoretical network based on four hypotheses: 1) Squatter settlements as the proto-cities of the 21st century [theory as history] 2) Putting the other urbanization first: for a reversed history of Latin American cities [theory as criticism] 3) Hyper-hybridity as the new urban condition [theory as politics] 4) Topological cultural networks as a tool to re-shape the idea of city [theory as science]; this assemblage represents a step along the way to survive, as architects, in the urban futuristic structure. At the end, theory seems to be our last hope.
Photos by Diana Maldonado
 Diana Maldonado, Abstract of: The Other Urbanization of Latin America: Theoretical Assemblage as Hope, AHRA 2015 This Thing Called Theory. November, 2015, Leeds Beckett University, UK.