Urbanisms of subsistence: The void, the seed & the splint
Baraldi, L. Philip
Master of Architecture
Informal methods of pooling, recycling, and redistributing scarce commodities that have long sustained villages of 10s and 100s now support dense conurbations of millions in peri-urban areas around cities throughout the developing world. This thesis is about engaging these mega-scale subsistence economies where conventional, centralized urban design strategies are absent or failing. Informal, "soft infrastructure" is identified as the critical medium and subject for architecture in this new urban context. Field research demonstrates an emerging hybridized field of symbiotic relationships between multitudes of petty entrepreneurs and a handful of format architectural interventions. An urban development strategy applicable to cities throughout the developing world is proposed. Finally, the thesis demonstrates how this strategy could be implemented on the dry lake bed of former Lake Texcoco in Mexico City to direct and support vulnerable subsistence economies towards greater levels of self-sufficiency and sustainability.