This is a transcription of the article published by the BK-City News on 10.11.2011. For the original article, please visit here.

Hanne van den Berg selected as ‘Best TU Delft graduate’

10 November 2011 by M&C

Architecture student Hanne van den Berg (MSc, Urbanism) has been selected for the UfD-Mecanoo ‘Best TU Delft Graduate’ prize for her graduation project entitled ‘Integrating the informal – Developing an integrative strategy for slum upgrading in Buenos Aires’. The prizes for all the ‘Best Graduates’ will be awarded on 24 November 2011.

Integrating the Informal

According to United Nations estimates, nearly one billion people over the world now live in informal settlements (UNDESA, 2010), which is one-seventh of the current global population. However, as stated in the UN Millennium Development Goal Report of 2010 (p62), ‘slum improvements, though considerable, are failing to keep pace with the growing ranks of the urban poor’. In Greater Buenos Aires, the metropolitan region of Buenos Aires and the context of this graduation project, an estimated 10 to 15% of the total population lives in so-called villas miserias or informal settlements. In addition to being characterised by high densities, limited access to water and sanitation and poor durability of housing, these settlements are predominantly located on marginal lands in the periphery of the city, such as in flood plains or near landfill sites. Furthermore, they are often both socially and spatially isolated from the formal city and are generally excluded from urban decision-making processes.

This graduation project therefore offers an integrative strategy for informal settlement upgrading that considers a wider framework of interventions aimed at reducing environmental risk and vulnerability, integration of the informal settlement into the formal city and participation of local stakeholders in larger urban processes. It focuses on Barrio Independencia, an informal settlement with approximately 7,500 inhabitants located in the river basin of the Rio Reconquista in Greater Buenos Aires. This particular settlement suffers from regular flooding, a heavily polluted creek, a lack of public space, limited access to job opportunities and social facilities and exclusion from decision-making processes. The upgrading strategy proposed in this graduation project consists of two parts: a participatory planning framework to allow for inclusion of local stakeholders in the decision-making process and a series of physical interventions on a range of scales.

These physical interventions, which follow the steps set out in the participatory planning framework, span from a regional strategy for the river basin area (with elements including a public space network, flood measures and urban development) to a local design for the settlement itself, in which local flood measures are introduced, possibilities for urban agriculture are developed and a new square is proposed on the intersection between the informal and formal neighbourhood. Throughout the two integrated parts of the graduation project, the focus remains on reducing vulnerability and risk of informal settlement residents and integrating the settlement into the formal city.

Hanne van den Berg

Hanne van den Berg recently graduated with distinction from the MSc Urbanism degree with her graduation project ‘Integrating the Informal – developing an integrative strategy for slum upgrading in Buenos Aires’. She was part of the Complex Cities Studio with a mentor team consisting of Dr. D.A. Sepulveda and Prof. ir. H.C. Bekkering. Before coming to the TU Delft she worked in practice for two years, for architectural and urban design offices based both in the UK (London) and in the Netherlands. Previous to that, she obtained a BA (Hons) and MA in Architecture at the University of Cambridge.

UfD-Mecanoo Prize

The UfD-Mecanoo prizes for the Best Graduates are awarded annually to the best graduate in each faculty. The faculties themselves decide on the winners. At the event to be held on 24 November, the best graduates from the academic year 2010-2011 will each give a brief presentation on their graduation project. They will then be awarded a certificate, a bronze medal and a cheque for € 1000.

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