Third World cities could improve the lives of their poorest citizens by locating more services in outlying slums rather than in the urban core.
Municipalities in the Third World tend to locate services in the centre and then slowly move them outwards to what are often much poorer but faster growing areas.
Shelagh McCartney, an assistant professor in the Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, says that doesn’t work for outlying slum communities and often duplicates services already existing in the city core.
McCartney has taken her students in the urbanism on the peripheries course to Pilar, a municipality of about 230,000 near Buenos Aires in Argentina, to provide new ideas about services and infrastructure to the local government.
One suggestion: Build a vocational school in one of Pilar’s outlying slums. The school would provide a badly needed educational facility to that poor area and attract outsiders interested both in taking the school’s courses and in doing some shopping.
Another idea is to focus more on building bike paths instead of roads. The bike paths would lead people to bus and train stations, reducing the need for cars to commute to work.
The Carleton students have looked at designing everything from locally based sewage and flood control systems to parks tailored to the needs of the people who live in Pilar’s slums.
And the local government’s reaction? “There seems to be some traction,” says McCartney, “but this is a very young project.”