Recently released articles from CITY Scholars


Volume 39, Number 3, May 2014, ISSN 0309-1317

Entanglements of Periphery and Informality in Mexico City

Authors: Liette Gilbert and Feike De Jong

Abstract - Mexico City is a well-known case of urban expansion. Most of the growth has been in its peripheries, occurring during two phases of housing privatization: a predominantly self-built urbanization by residents establishing irregular settlements (starting in the 1930s); and a relatively recent surge of mass-produced small-scale single-family housing built by state-sponsored development companies (underway since the year 2000). Informality, we argue, should not be understood as a mode of housing production setting in opposition self-build practices against industry-led and/or state-sponsored processes, but rather as a dialectical urbanization logic shaped by the entanglements of in/formal processes in governance practices, land privatization and regularization, and urban infrastructure and services deficits. We are particularly interested in a dominant narrative whereby the embeddedness of informality is constantly underplayed and irregular settlements are cast as a residual category, a problem to tolerate or in need of intervention, or the inevitable combination of demographic growth and housing shortage, rather than the direct outcome of urban policies and development processes. Conversely, recent housing policy in Mexico is officially narrated as an economic stimulus, a means to control and order (irregular) urban expansion, and an impulse to democratize homeownership. Our discussion of the entanglements of informality in Mexico City is based on an extended literature review of academic articles and official reports (predominantly in English), supplemented by a series of street and neighborhood explorations (in the summers of 2012 and 2013) across the metropolis.

The Politics of Place: Place-making versus Densification in Toronto's Tower Neighbourhoods

Authors: Will Poppe and Douglas Young

Abstract - Toronto's Tower Neighbourhood Renewal (TR) programme is a municipal government initiative tackling aging high-rise apartment building clusters in need of physical upgrades. One strategy for a more vibrant future for those clusters is densification or new infill housing. The main argument of the essay is that the unique urban structure of Toronto's inner suburbs challenges the implementation of TR's densification strategy. The proximity of many residents occupying privately owned single-family homes close to the tower neighbourhoods has implications for the governance of TR in Toronto. Having created place-frames firmly linked to their own identities as single-family homeowners, these residents reject an encroachment of the ‘urban' (through higher residential densities) and of the ‘Other' (through a potential increase in low-income, immigrant and visible minority tower renters). A 2011 design charrette in the Toronto neighbourhood of Weston serves as a case study, exemplifying the tensions between neighbourhood resident place-frames and the goals of the TR project. This essay is based on an analysis of public policy documents and public participation reports, as well as notes from direct observation during the Weston 2021 Design Charrette.

Edwad Relph Toronto: Transformations in a City and its Region

Author: Douglas Young