UBC Graduate Research

Bridging the Divide De Souza, Mark Ronald


Planning, policy and design have neglected to strategically address informal settlements, now home to one third of the world’s population and commonly subjected to inadequate housing, and infrastructure. These communities have naturally grown for centuries, developing after colonization, slavery, industrialization and now capitalism. These settlements can be recognized today as their own townships - a city within a city, disconnected from the commodity driven market of urban centres and the associated social constructs. Specific to Trinidad and Tobago, the social, political and physical divide between the formal and informal have heightened as squatter communities are increasingly at risk of eviction as a result of urbanization and lucrative investment opportunities. This thesis therefore presents an alternative to current clearance proposals by blurring the boundary of these communities and bridging social disparities through historical and cultural traditions of the Steel Pan. While architects have narrowed the focus of the profession to serve the privileged and the commodity driven free market, this thesis intends to explore the contextually based needs of the informal, enabling a systematic growth through bottom-up planning and needs based design. Building upon literature and case studies with a focus on policy, infrastructure and associated social impacts, the project offers a design intervention projecting a century’s worth of growth and needs into a network of permanence and social belonging.

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