Mrz 09 31

SELF MADE CITY is on line

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Research on Contemporary Informal Settlements in Europe

Project Themes
The SELF MADE CITY research project focuses on analysing, interpreting and visualizing the vast range of urban transformations, both temporary and permanent that, in recent times, have affected large urban agglomerations, mostly ungoverned by any form of legislative or urban planning.
SELF MADE CITY pursues the thesis that informal settlements are no longer understandable within traditional definitions produced by urbanists, but through trans disciplinary approaches and methodology. After the fall of the „iron curtain“, this phenomenon has adopted a different, more complex and mutated character.
The phenomenon investigated by the research project is highly articulated and involves a range of subjects: from individuals and families, to spontaneously organised groups, informal networks and also different branches of informal economy.

The research is rooted in the belief that the static image of European cities makes little room for an investigation about informal settlements, more commonly attributed to cities of the „Third World“ and best defined by the term „informal city“. Examples of this type of development include temporary and permanent informal settlements, informal markets and subsistence economies. In European cities, until recently a model of elevated social status, many inhabitants historically as well in the present, have taken it upon themselves to organise the spaces in which they live and survive. These phenomena – due to several reasons – are even increasing: large urban transformations, internal and external migratory flows into different countries, social and economical marginalization and the exclusion of many subjects from political choices and cultural debate.
In order to outline such an articulated and elusive phenomenon, SELF MADE CITY intends to adopt an experimental method of investigation that overlaps different instruments in order to define the general framework of the European territory, together with the first hand accounts of those who have built or transformed their own living and social space, as individuals, family units or communities acting based on common interests or needs. By focusing on the protagonists of self-construction and their systems of self-organisation it is possible to gather direct information and to analyse, investigate and understand this phenomenon.

The Network: A Comparison of Phenomena Across the European Territory
SELF MADE CITY will begin with a survey of the city of Rome. The main objective of this research is to identify the parameters of study and comparison present in various European realities as well as in the Global South.
The project will also look at European Union Countries, such as Greece or Spain, together with those working towards European Membership, such as Turkey, demonstrate a widespread phenomenon known as „gececondu“, while countries like Albania or Yugoslavia, where the transition of goods and lands from a Socialist to a Capitalist model has not yet been applied and countries in Eastern Europe such as Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, which are in a full economic and social transformation, a result of their integration within the European Community. Each of these episodes of informal settlements and self-transformation begin with different presumptions and tell different stories:
SELF MADE CITY wishes to identify common approaches for understanding this phenomena.
The project will build a network of shared experiences, research, visual, documentation and artistic materials, illustrating the common traits of self-construction and defining the correlation between different European realities.

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