The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


DPU Working Paper - No. 114

The Social Context of Built Form: The Case of Informal Housing Production In Mexico City


4 March 2001

Author: Alex Walker

Publication Date: 2001

Informal housing production in the growing cities of the developing world has been the object of intense study for several decades, especially since the pioneering works of John Turner in the 1960s. In Mexico, in particular, a great deal of attention has been paid to the phenomenon of what is often called self-help, self-produced, irregular or informal housing, both because of its importance in numerical terms, and because of its implications for broader social urban processes.

Despite this focussed research attention however, within the voluminous literature on the phenomenon of informal housing production there has been almost no attention paid to the physical form of the houses produced. This apparent lack of interest can probably be explained with reference to the idea that process is more important than product, and as part of a general response to the grand formal solutions which dominated the urban agenda until the 1960s, and which failed to solve urban problems, as a reaction to which the concentration on informal and self-help solutions was born.

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