Gabriela Estrada from Mexico presents.

Ana Maria Fernandez-Maldonado  and Roberto Rocco led two sessions on “Change and Exchange of Planning Ideas in Latin America” at the International Planning History Society Conference, held at TU Delft from July 17 to 21, 2016. The 17th IPHS Conference is one of the largest academic events in the Planning Community. This edition included around 500 paper presentations organised along several parallel tracks.

The objective of this particular panel was to discuss planning policy and practice transfers, convergences and innovation in Latin America. The region is the cradle of several innovative approaches to mobility, urban renewal and slum upgrading for instance. However, the sessions brought about several challenges faced by Latin American planning.

The great debate was about implementation and performance. Questions asked included “Is a law enough for a plan to touch the ground”? This made reference to the great number of plans that are either never approved or never implemented. Several countries in the region have regulations about the regularity of plan-making. Cities have to prepare urban plans on a regular basis, but they often are mere intelectual exercises with little influence on the ground.

However, it was indicated that studying these plans can reveal the motivations, the drivers and the conditions in which spatial planning takes place and finally can reveal a lot about the role of the State in organising spatial development.

Plan makers often seem to “forget” to include essencial actors in the planning process, which has an impact on implementation.

Several emblematic planning experiences were challenged by presenters, including the Curitiba and Medellin experiences, and questions were raised about the real effectiveness of “social urbanism”, as opposed to the perception that some of the most celebrated experiences in the region are little more than exercises in marketing and branding. But panelists were reminded that these experiences, doubtless amplified by the media, represent nevertheless new experiences of intervention in areas where the State did not use to intervene before (i.e. the most disadvantaged areas of Latin American cities).

The role of the State is crucial to understand planning processes in Latin America, but then again there is not one role, but different roles played by the State in different places and times: from a developmental approach that includes urbanisation as the main driver of growth to advocacy planning aiming to improve citizens’ right to the city.

 Entangled Histories of Cross-Cultural Exchange


Change and Exchange of Planning Ideas in Latin America (Part 1) / Chair: Roberto Rocco and Ana Maria Fernandez Maldonado

  • The Value of Medellin’s Social Urbanism as a Best Practice

Letty Reimerink

  • Conditional Urbanism in Sao Paulore ections on Contemporary Planning Instruments

Eliana Rosa de Queiroz Barbosa, Nadia Somekh and Bruno de Meulder

  • Territorial planning in Central America in the XXIst Century: common trends, originalities, and challenges

Carlos E. Ferrufino

  • Missing Links in Planning for Urban Resilience: a Mexican case

Gabriela Estrada Díaz

  • Narratives of a Transformation: the role of space in the advent of neoliberal planning in Bogotá

Giulia Torino

  • Off-planning: the resilient strategy of modern Latin American cities

Diana Maldonado

  • Urban Acupuncture and Incremental Housing: two key contributions of Latin America to urban design

Ana Maria Durán Calisto

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