Academy of Art University
Go to home page
Massing Studies
Site Plan
Floor Plan 1
Floor Plan 2
Floor Plan 3
Light Study
Architecture of Informal Settlements

Architecture of Informal Settlements

A Framework for Sustainable Self-Built Communities in Bogota, Colombia

Bachelor of Architecture Thesis Project

Philip RA, AIA
Ethen Wood, AIA
B.Arch Design Advocacy Award

Historically, informal settlements have organically developed as self-built structures, sometimes leading to unsafe and unsanitary living conditions. One way to address this is the proposal of a framework for self-built, informal settlements, that respects the residents' need to grow and build while providing a safe and sanitary structure. This framework incorporates Gabion walls, which are determined by the architect and provide a flexible yet resilient structure that can evolve over time. The theory behind this architectural approach emphasizes the importance of community participation in the design and construction of their living spaces.

Providing a flexible framework allows residents to adapt and build on their own terms, while maintaining a safe and sanitary environment. The use of Gabion walls also provides a sustainable and cost-effective solution that utilizes local materials. Overall, this approach seeks to balance the needs of the community with the expertise of architects, resulting in a collaborative and sustainable solution for informal settlements.

Architecture must provide dignified living conditions of the underprivileged and undeserved inhabitants of a city. Informal settlements offer ingenuity and an expression of local identity. Instead of measuring them against the Western aesthetic traditions, informal settlements can be analyzed to find ways to encourage communities to evolve and transform, thus establishing a connected sense of well-being and harmony.

The adaptive reuse of an empty lot into a mixed-use marketplace provides restaurant facilities, grocery, market cafe, retail, library, and daycare. The synergy of infrastructure and architecture brings together the community in a supportive function that responds to the site’s deficiencies making the most of pragmatic solutions. By peeling the landscape, and through careful integration of the existing circulation networks, the proposal provides a forum for social encounters and experiences that generate pride and cohesion in the community.

Companies That Have Hired Our Graduates

Big logo
Henning Larsen logo
Huang Iboshi Architecture logo
Mork Ulnes logo

Contact Us

For more information on these skilled artists and designers, call 415-618-8899, or email us