Aided self-help with sites & services, an example for current urban questions?

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Submission Summary
Worldwide urbanisation is taking place at a rapid pace and many new cities/urban expansions have to be built in the near future in order to meet global economic growth and mass migration to urban environments. There are many questions about the way this urbanisation will proceed. Within international programmes dealing with urban development, urban planning and design are increasingly being included as crucial instruments in response to questions about sustainability, quality of life and providing shelter. And although the field of urban planning has been subject of change, the ideas of modernism still underlie the planning of new towns. A critical discourse on the influence of modernism has been taking place since the mid-20th century, accompanied by ongoing research for opportunities to bring the human dimension, scale and self-organisation into this process. This paper can be placed in this long tradition of discussion and international discourse and shows that the search for human scale within new town planning in the post war era and the discussions nowadays are in a way comparable. It arises from the context of urbanisation in Latin America in the 1960s. Taking into consideration that urban informality was a foreseeable part of urbanisation and had to become part of the planning strategy, the planning process of Ciudad Guayana in Venezuela included the elaboration of a housing programme to test and implement demonstration projects and housing experiments. The programme, known as the Settlement Strategy, used the aided self-help policy to provide shelter for the urban poor combining the power of self-organisation of the residents with governmental support and guidance. This was first tested in the neighbourhood El Gallo, where a sites & services scheme was applied with a spatial layout that provided enough space for public amenities and facilities. This was combined with guided progressive development based on the capacity of the residents to build their own houses. The strategy providing basic housing, technical support and space for facilities promoted a gradual improvement of housing in the area, which gradually densified. People were able to save in housing costs and to invest in education, business or other areas, what contributed to creating a mixed income community. The paper will analyse the possibilities of the aided self-help principles in the current urbanisation discourse, focussing on upscaling the sites & services scheme, developed as a spatial instrument within the policy. Due to the growing demand for affordable housing worldwide, new forms of urban development that share similarities with the aided self-help policy may be applicable in urban settings worldwide. Because of new forms of participation in urban processes and the more prominent role of residents, there are more and more examples in the Western world that fit with the aided self-help features. An extreme form is the example of Almere Oosterwold, in the Netherlands, where residents buy a piece of land and must take care of both housing construction and connection to the urban services by themselves. This is not a form of aided self-help for low income groups, but the process is connected to the planning of self-organisation. Research into the implementation of such examples is valuable to get more specific knowledge of the difficulties encountered by residents, the most effective level of guidance of the local government and the kind of facilities that may be needed for stronger communities. Rots, S.J., Fernandez Maldonado A.M.F.M, 2019, Planning Ciudad Guayana, an industrial new town in oil-rich Venezuela, International Planning Studies 24(6):1-16 Rots, S.J., 2021, The Squatted New Town, modern movement meets self-organisation in Venezuela, TUDelft (PhD thesis)
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1: Inclusiveness and empowerment. Al-Majlis: planning with and for communities
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International New Town Institute

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