ETD system

Electronic theses and dissertations repository


Tesi etd-09102016-111626

Thesis type
Tesi di laurea magistrale LM5
In-formality. Public spaces, social housing and sanitation in Smokey Mountain, Manila.
Corso di studi
relatore Prof. Lanini, Luca
correlatore Ing. Candido, Fabio
relatore Prof. Mitchell, Maurice
Parole chiave
  • megacities
  • architecture
  • dumpsite
  • manila
  • social housing
  • informal settlements
  • developing countries
  • urbanism
  • slum
  • sanitation
Data inizio appello
Riassunto analitico
The Philippines is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in Asia. This trend reflects the effects of years of high rates of natural population growth and consistent rural-to-urban migration.

Urbanization in the Philippines has been led by Metro Manila, also known as the National Capital Region (NCR), since the 1950s. Metro Manila and the other five metropolitan areas of the country produce 80% of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and no development strategies for the rural areas are to be implemented in the foreseeable future.

The spread of informal settlements in the Philippines has become a phenomenon associated with big cities and unplanned expanding urban centres. From the early 1970s to more recent years, estimates of the number of informal settlers in the country have varied, ranging from 470,000 to 2.5 million families. Current estimates2, place the number of informal settlement families (ISFs) at about 1.5 million, 15% of the Philippines’ total urban population.

Many ISFs live in chronic urban poverty and are confronted by physical, economic, social, legal and environmental risks on a day-to-day basis. They have limited or no access to security of tenure, capital, social networks, environmental safety and legal security. Clearly, as in other developing countries, the pervasiveness of informal settlements in the Philippines can be traced back to low income, inadequate urban planning, lack of serviced land, lack of affordable social housing, and many other factors.3

In Metro Manila and other growing urban centres, informal settlers live in sprawling slums that do not meet the most basic hygienic needs (or, worse, are used as dumping grounds for hazardous wastes) where they are constantly exposed to serious health risks. This issue has been too often addressed in ineffective ways: demolitions, relocations to extra urban areas, overcrowded tenement buildings.

The aim of this work is to demonstrate that the informality that shapes this settlements and the social housing provided by the government so far can’t be repressed, and should be incorporated in what is commonly considered “proper” architecture. These two aspects can successfully work together to generate an environment that responds to the needs of the people. Formality can lay the basis for informality to happen and evolve in a solid, safe and hygienic environment. This is the principle that defines the whole strategy here proposed for the chosen case study, the Smokey Mountain and Paradise Heights area in Tondo, Manila.

The project is focused on the creation of public spaces at the street level using abandoned areas and existent and new buildings, in order to continuously connect parts of the city that share the same margins, but are not linked to one another.

The proposal presents a series of covered public spaces realized using parts of some existing buildings and the alleviation of the overcrowding issue that affects this neighbourhood; a new and incremental social hosing building prototype, that would provide families highly flexible spaces; a diffused system of public toilets and wash-houses in the slum area, to provide ISFs with the sanitary and hygienic facilities they don’t have access to; a family planning centre, with day-clinics for medical visits and classrooms for educational meetings and initiatives; and a junk shop, that could be the first step for a cooperative recycling business in the area.

Another aspect that is pointed out is that in contexts characterized by scarcity of resources in terms of funds and materials, vernacular traditional buildings are the greatest resources for architects and engineers, as people managed to protect themselves from the weather elements with simple and effective precautions and no need of high-tech solutions.

Of course, these precautions and architectural forms are to be actualized and adapted to the needs of a family living in a city of the 21st century, and this is were architects, engineers and planners should contribute with their expertise.

Numerous NGOs have been and are working in the Smokey Mountain area, mainly carrying on important and indispensable feeding and schooling programs; I hope that this project, although probably utopian, will be able to raise awareness towards the living conditions of so many people also from an urban and architectural point of view.