Integrating Informal Settlements: The Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area, Argentina

Even though it is widely acknowledged that informal settlements which house the majority of urban residents in developing countries need to be integrated—spatially, economically, socially, and politically—with the core city areas, there is, as yet, very little knowledge about how such integration can most effectively be initiated and implemented. This practicum will address this gap with a focus on Buenos Aires, Argentina which is starting to implement a new effort to integrate all the informal settlements in the metro area through a recently created Urban Integration Policy. The BA Provincial Government has identified eight prototypical informal settlements around the periphery of Buenos Aires to improve with innovative projects that, if successful, can be scaled up throughout Metro Buenos Aires. It has asked the MIT SPURS program to assist in creating a program of action to address key issue of informal settlements, and so the Provincial Government is the major client for this practicum. 

The primary goal of the practicum is to identify key problems and opportunities for upgrading and integration of informal settlements and offer meaningful proposals in four areas: housing and informal upgrading, with an emphasis on incremental improvements; informal/ local economies and livelihoods; informal land markets and regulation; plus institutional design and urban management strategies. The practicum’s work is expected to focus largely on one settlement to facilitate local understanding, provide opportunities for community interaction, and to promote deep assessment of the issues.