Learning from the Slums, Learning for the Slums…

  • Jean-Claude Bolay
  • Yves Pedrazzini
  • Jérôme Chenal
Part of the GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 119)


Slums may clash with a vision of a modern city. However, bearing in mind that on a global scale, around one billion dwellers live in such poor settlements, the slum is an emblematic issue of contemporary urbanization. We therefore need to review the causes and effects of this phenomenon. The problem of slum cannot be solved on its own, taken out of its spatial and social context. This approach requires theoretical analysis to demonstrate that the slum is not only defined through deficiencies, but also as a direct outcome of urban spatial and social practices. We will take into account a diversity of urban situations and the considerable differences in the status of slums in various urban decision-making systems.

It is essential to know how the slums challenge the city. The first issue is that of their marginality, despite their economic dynamism and their intense social organisation. The second issue is that of constructive and planning standards that become totally abstract and obsolete when addressing the slums. The third issue that we cannot avoid is that of informality.

Within a renewed urban framework, interventions should not overlook the interaction between slums and an urban vision on a citywide scale. The diagnostic will be based on typological features to frame the problems and render them coherent, in order to prioritise interventions. Actions will be undertaken together with all involved urban stakeholders, including representatives of the slum population.


Urban Planning Typological Feature Slum Population Urban Project Urban Issue 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Claude Bolay
    • 1
  • Yves Pedrazzini
    • 1
  • Jérôme Chenal
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)LausanneSwitzerland

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