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AAEAAQAAAAAAAAP4AAAAJDJiYzliMmVhLTAyMGEtNGY1OC05NmZhLTk2ZjE1MWYzMDRkNgThe Squatted New Town: Modernism meets informality. Venezuelan cases

March 31, THU, 12h30-13h30 room 01WEST060 @Bouwkunde, Julianalaan 134, Delft

By Simone Rots

PhD candidate at the Delft University of Technology, faculty of Urbanism

Researcher at The International New Town Institute (INTI)

Keywords: New Town, Modern Movement, Urban Informality

23de EneroP1000061Abstract

‘All over Asia, Africa and South America, brand new cities are seen as an instrument for economic growth and rapid urbanization. They are conceptualized as smart cities, economic cities or large suburban areas’ (INTI 2015). In the Global South a rapid urbanization takes place and many new cities and urban extensions have to be built in the near future to answer to the global economical growth and mass immigration to an urban environment. But how will these cities develop and what kind of urban design and planning will underlie How will these cities become livable cities that shelter all the people, also the urban poor? This research arguments that we should analyze the results of a similar urbanization that took place in the fifties and sixties of the last century: in the post war period modernistic satellite cities, new towns and urban extensions were erected all over the world as the idealistic and pragmatic answer to population growth, war damage and housing shortages following World War II. In Latin America and especially in Venezuela this caused a laboratory of the ideas of the Modern Movement. Because of the oil wealth in Venezuela modern new towns could be planned but also built in a short period of time. But in the end, because of political, economical and cultural circumstances, this rapid formal modernization caused in most cases in an extreme informal reaction in the urbanization process. Modernism meets urban informality.

‘The Squatted New Town’ tries to contribute to the actual search for an urban model that combines formal and informal urban dynamics by analyzing the results of the modern urbanization process in the fifties and sixties in Latin America and especially in Venezuela. Modernistic new towns are being analysed and described in all their aspects and informality in urbanization processes is a topic in researches all over the world. But what happens when these two meet? What kind of urban condition arises from the intervention of the informal within the formal. Two case studies that are different representatives of the generation of modernistic new towns are studied on the formal-informal meeting and divide. These new towns are chosen because of the extreme and clear way in which the combination of the formal and informal is visible in the spatial presentation. The first is 23 de Enero, the largest and most important public housing project ever implemented in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, designed by Carlos Raul Villanueva, that has been squatted by new inhabitants that came to the city for a better future. Also the public space in between the housing has been totally invaded by the informal city. The second case-study Ciudad Guayana is one of the largest examples of a centralized planned city in Latin America. Together with the Joint Centre of Urban Studies of Harvard University and MIT, the Venezuelan government initiated in the sixties the development of the masterplan for the city. Already in the beginning the ‘problems’ of self-organization and informality, were being recognized, and several exercises has been executed in an attempt to answer rapid urbanisation. This struggle became clear in the planning process that allowed for consecutive revisions on the masterplan, but it is also clear that the dynamics of the city differs from the planning perspective as proposed by planning team.


Simone Rots is an architectural historian and partner of Crimson Architectural Historians (Rotterdam, NL). Crimson is an office that takes the contemporary city as its starting point, that works, writes, advises and teaches in the field of urban planning and architecture, combining historical research and the production of projects, which has also resulted in project development. For example Simone Rots was the director of Hofbogen BV and responsible for the first part of the transformation of a nineteenth century monumental train viaduct in the north of Rotterdam. Since February 2014 she is managing director of the International New Town Institute (INTI), a think-and-do tank for young cities, that is working worldwide, dedicated to improve the quality of urban development. She is working on her PhD ‘the Squatted New Town, modernism versus informality, two Venezuelan cases’ at the Technical University of Delft on the subject of modernism and urban informality.



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