Politecnico di Torino (logo)

Slum digital(e)scape. An image-based analysis for slum upgrading

Serena Pantanetti

Slum digital(e)scape. An image-based analysis for slum upgrading.

Rel. Alessandro Fubini, Riccardo Balbo. Politecnico di Torino, Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Per La Sostenibilità, 2012


Informal settlements are usually located in underdeveloped or developing countries, such as South America, Africa or Asia, but they could also be found in the poorest areas or in the outskirts of the biggest western cities.

They could be called in many different ways depending on where they are settled and on the people they host, but in the eyes of a foreigner they always look the same: as a place of chaos, poverty, degradation and untidiness.

Throughout the paper, the terms informal settlements and slums are used interchangeably, since informal settlements are often referred to as slums and vice versa in previous literature. Though by definition, not all slums would be considered as informal settlements. However, according to UN-HABITAT's definition informal settlements are always considered to be slums by virtue of the lack of tenure security. Moreover, the great majority of informal areas are occupied by relatively poor residents and will usually have at least one additional form of deprivation.

The work is the product of a collaboration with CODEV (Centre pour la cooperation et le développement) at the EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and CRD-PVS (II Centro di Ricerca e Documentazione in Tecnologia, Architettura e Città nei Paesi in via di sviluppo) at the Politecnico di Torino. Both are involved in research activities in the fields of habitat in developing and emerging countries.

Coherent with the common vision of the importance of the slum question when talking about urban planning and social development, the aim of the work is to actualize the analysis of the phenomenon, using the technology we now dispose, through a number of case studies in several emerging and developing countries, and comparing it with the traditional models used in order to achieve some relevant conditions, either positive or negative, that should be gathered to improve the general studies on slums.

Traditionally the analysis is based on socio-economics characteristics hich brings to the prescription of 'good practises' given to the communities' stakeholders by the International Organizations; in the proposed case the method is physiographic indeed, based on digital images, analysing the geo-physical characteristics and it has the aim of improving the traditional one.

The goal is translated in the research of a taxonomy which could give order to what is born as a complete disorder, without any rules of architecture, urban planning, social life or economy, but which, if analysed, represents a special development and will of the inhabitants.

In order to do this the work doesn't want to start from a classical analysis of the informal characteristics of the different settlements, but from their 'urban shape', that is from how the first inhabitants got appropriated of small amounts of lands just to get a house where to live, a place where to work, public spaces where to meet and then they spread to the contiguous lands, following not-written rules or simply intuitions.

This implementation of information about slums can be useful or planning and monitoring urban poverty alleviation programs, as slums are directly related to poverty and they are home to a growing )roportion of dwellers thanks to the rising urban population and consequent increasing in urban poverty.The systematic quantification of slums requires methods to identify and define them spatially in a consistent manner in support of geographical targeting in slum intervention programs. Further, considering the rapid change in the structures of such settlements as a result of expansion, infill, relocation and extension, this kind of technique could help in slum monitoring. For these reasons, there is a growing interest in developing and exploiting robust approaches for collecting information on slums.

Relators: Alessandro Fubini, Riccardo Balbo
Publication type: Printed
Subjects: A Architettura > AH Buildings and equipment for the home
A Architettura > AO Design
Corso di laurea: Corso di laurea magistrale in Architettura Per La Sostenibilità
Classe di laurea: UNSPECIFIED
Aziende collaboratrici: UNSPECIFIED
URI: http://webthesis.biblio.polito.it/id/eprint/2942






3.1. A need in finding information

3.2. Virtual globes

3.3. Google Earth and Google Street View around the world


4.1. The analysis procedure

Step1-The case studies choice

Step2-The case studies analysis

Step3-The resulted classes of analysis

Step4-The taxonomy


5.1. Context - World population and Slums


6.1. Slum upgrading: the UNCHS' perspective

6.2. Slum upgrading actions

6.3. Slum and Urban Squatter Areas

6.4. National Development Plans and the lack of data

6.5. Needs concerning slums in urban development


7.1. Financing, cost and affordability

7.2. Security of tenure and allocation of land

7.3. Support to the informal sector

7.4. Standards of physical development

7.5. Modes and needs of public participation


8.1. The mainstream method applied to the physiographic re sults

VILLA 31 _ Buenos Aires _ Argentina

SAN AUGUSTIN _ Caracas _ Venezuela

MORRO DA PROVIDENCIA_ Rio de Janeiro _ Brazil

ROCINHA_ Rio de Janeiro _ Brazil

DONA MARTA _ Rio de Janeiro _ Brazil

CIUDAD BOLIVAR _ Bogota _ Colombia






WHO, First Report of the Expert Committee on Public Health Aspect of Housing, Technical Report Series, No.225. Geneva 1961.

UN-HABITAT, Urbanization in Developing Countries, Report of a Symposium, Noordwijik, Netherlands, December 1967, International Union of Local Authorities, The Hague: Marinus Nijhoff, 1968, p. 19.

UN-HABITAT, Improvement of Slums and Uncontrolled Settlements, Report of the Interregional Seminar on the Improvement of Slums and Uncontrolled Settlements, Medellin, Colombia, 15 February -1 March 1970, pp.28-96.

UN-HABITAT, World Housing Survey, 1974, p.2.

UN-HABITAT, Housing Policy Guidelines for Developing Countries, New York, 1976.

UN-HABITAT, Planning for Development: Goals and Policies of Developing Countries for the Second Half of the 1970s, Study prepared by the Centre for Development Planning Projection and Policies of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, Journal of Development Planning, No. 11, 1977, p.1.

D. C. I. Okpala, Aspects of urban housing and human settlements policies and strategies in Africa, UN Centre for human settlements, UN Economic commission for Africa, Addis Ababa, 1986.

UN-HABITAT, Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirty-Fourth Session, Supplement No. 8 document A/34/8., par.44.

G. Ivan, Europe’s slums, Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd, 1992.

UN-HABITAT, National Experiences with Shelter Delivery for the Poorest Groups, UNCHS (Habitat), 1993.

UN-HABITAT, Report of the World Summit for Social Development,Copenhagen, 6-12 March 1995, United Nations publication.

H. Werlin, The slum upgrading myth, Sage publications, 1995.

UN-HABITAT, An Urbanizing World. Global Report on Human Settlement, Oxford 1996, p.239.

UN-HABITAT, Cities without slums, 2002.

J. Abbott, A method-based planning framework for informal settlement upgrading, Habitat International, 2002.

UN-HABITAT, The challenge of slums: Global report on human settlements, 2003.

UN-HABITAT, Upgrading of urban slums and squatter areas, UNCHS-HABITAT, CHS/OP/81-4 E, 2004.

UN-HABITAT, Slum upgrading facility, Vancouver, 2006.

UN-HABITAT, State of the World's Cities 2008/2009, 2008.

UN-HABITAT, Guarantees for slum upgrading, Nairobi, 2009.

D. Smith, Google Street View raises crime fears in South Africa, The guardian (Johannesburg). November 29, 2009.

D. Kohli, R. Sliuzas, N. Kerle, A. Stein, An ontology of slums for image-based classification, Computers, Environment and Urban Systems, 2011.

T. A. Aziz, I. M. Shawket, New strategy of upgrading slum areas in developing countries using vernacular trends to achieve a sustainable housing development, Elsevier, 2011

JC. Bolay, Slum Upgrading: Interdisciplinary Perspective and Intersectoral Action Towards Urban Sustainable Development, Lausanne, 2011.


A. Lattes, Auge y declinación de las migraciones en Buenos Aires, Ed. Paidós, Buenos Aires, 1992.

I. Bermudez. En el Gran Buenos Aires es pobre el 51,7% de los habitantes, 21 Fevrier 2002.

P. Estèbe, Buenos Aires : la « Villa 31 », Quelle durabilità du système de gestion des déchets actuel?, 2009.

J. F. Castro, Anteproyecto urbano barrio 31 Carlos Mugica, Instituto de la Espacialidad Humana Facultad de Arquitectura Diseno y Urbanismo Universidad de Buenos Aires, 2009.

F. Cavallieri and P. Ayse. Alleviating Urban Poverty in a Global City: New Trends in Upgrading Rio-de-Janeiro's Favelas. Habitat International, Vol 22, No.4, pp. 449-462, 1998.

A. Séon, Gouvernance urbaine à Rio de Janeiro, Au-delà des stereotypes, les favelas aujourd'hui à Rio, 2008.

J. Behrenstein, Corps et decors urbains, les enjeux culturels des villes, ed. L'Harmattan, 2006.

Etude devaluation de l'expérience brésilienne sur I'urbanisation de favelas et la régularisation fondere, favela bairro - Rio de Janeiro, IBAM, Assessoria Internacional, octobre 2002, Rio de Janeiro

V. M. Almeida & L. M. Bueno, Urbanizagào de Favelas: O Desafio dos Grandes Complexos. Anais do XIV Encontro de Iniciagào Cientifica da PUC-Campinas, 2009.

L. S. Andrade, Espago Público e Favelas: Urna análise da dimensâo pública dos espagos coletivos nao edificados na Rocinha. PhD Thesis UFRJ, Programa de Pôs-Graduaçâo em Geografia, Rio de Janeiro, 2002.

M. B. Burgos, Cidade, Territorios e Cidadania, Revista de Ciéncias Sociais, Rio de Janeiro, Vol. 48, no 1, pp. 189 a 222, 2005.

M. B. Burgos, Dos parques proletários ao Favela Bairro: as políticas públicas ñas favelas do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro: Fundaçâo Getulio Vargas, 1998.

P. B. Cezar, Evoluçâo da populaçâo de favelas na cidade do Rio de Janeiro: urna reflexáo sobre os dados mais recentes, IPP/Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, 2002.

L. P. Conde & S. Magalhâes, Favela-Bairro: rewriting the history of Rio. Rio de Janeiro: Viver Cidades, 158p, 2004.

M. Davis, Pianeta Favelas. Sâo Paulo, Boitempo, 2006.

D. Drummond, Architectes des favelas, Bordas, Paris, 1981.

L. Kowarick, A espoliaçâo Urbana. Rio de Janeiro: Paz e Terra, 1979.

G. Leitâo, Dos barracos de madeira aos prédios de quitinetes: Urna análise do processo de produçâo da moradia na favela da Rocinha, ao longo de cinqüenta anos, PhD Thesis, Postgraduation program in Geografy, UFRJ , Rio de Janeiro, 2004.

G. Leitâo, Transformaçôes na estrutura socioespacial das favelas cariocas: a Rocinha como um exemplo, Cadernos Metrôpole V. 18 pp. 135-155, Rio de Janeiro, 2007.

E. Maricato, Auto Construgao, aArquitetura possivel, A Producao Capitalista da casa e da cidade no Brasil industrial, Sao Paulo: Alfa Omega, 1982.

B. F. Medeiros, The favela and its touristic transits, Geoforum, V. 40, pp. 580-588, 2009.

M. Neri, Os empresarios da Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Fundagao Getulio Vargas, 1997. 

G. O’Hare, M. Barke, The favelas of rio de janeiro: a temporal and spatial analisys, GeoJournal 56: 225-240, 2002.

S. T. Pasternak, O Brasil e suas favelas, Rio de Janeiro, Livraria Sette Letras, FAPERJ, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, 2003.

S. T. Pasternak, Tendéncias Recentes na Política de Desfavelamento Brasileira, paper presented in International Congress of Sociology ISA, Montreal, 1998.

Prefeitura da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro, Favela-Bairro: avaliagäo da primeira fase, Coleçâo Estudos da Cidade n° 165, 2005.

V. L. F. Rezende, Planejamento e Política Fundiária: Ocaso do Rio de Janeiro. Doctoral Dissertation, Faculty of Architecture and Urbanism, University of Säo Paulo. 16, 1995.

L.B.P. Segala, O Riscado do Baläo Japonés: traballio comunitàrio na Rocinha (1977-1982), Dissertaçâo de Mestrado em Antropologia Social, Museu Nacional, UFRJ, Rio de Janeiro, 496 pp, 1991.

P. Soares, Rocinha, Urna breve historia no tempo. Análise dos processos de formagäo e transformagäo do bairro, In anais XIII ENANPUR, 2009.

L. Valladares, A Invengào da Favela: Do Mito de Origem a favela.com, FGV, Rio de Janeiro, 2005.

L. Valladares, A Gènese da Favela Carioca. A produgäo anterior às ciências sociais, Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais, Säo Paulo, v.15, n.44, 2000.

L. P Valladares, Estudos recentes sobre a habitagäo no Brasil: resenha da literatura, 1983.

L. Valladares, Repensando a Habitagäo no Brasil, Coleçâo Debates Urbanos, n°3. Rio de Janeiro, Zahar.

L. P. Valladares, Passa-se urna casa: analise da política de remogäo de favelas do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Zahar, 1980.

A. Zaluar, M. Alvito, Um Século de Favelas. Rio de Janeiro, Ed. FGV, 1998.

J. Perlman, Favela : Four decades of living on the edge in Rio de Janairo, New York, Oxford University Press. 2010.

A. M. Arenda, I.S. Henao, S.N. Uribe, Transition Urbaine : Projet d’aménagement intégral de la favela Santa Marta, Rio deJaneiro, Brésil, Montréal, Université de Montréal, Ecole d’architecture, 2010

O. Borius, Rio de Janeiro olympique : murs tropicaux, tavelas etgentrification. France, 2010

J. De Souza Silva, A. Urani, Brazil Children in Drug Trafficking: A Rapid Assessment. Genève, International Labour Organization International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC), 2002.

A. Zaluar, Violence à Rio de Janeiro : styles de loisirs, de consommation et de trafic de la drogue, Revue internationale des sciences sociales, 169, p. 407-417, 2001.

T. Pitta, L’éphémère dans les villes proposition pour une rénovation symbolique de l’espace urbain. Sociétés, 71, p. 37-45, 2001.

B. Alvarez, La Lutte antidrogues au Vénézuela, septembre 2010.

E. Golinger, Metro Cable de Caracas aclamado por el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York, Fundarte, 2010.

A. Brillembourg and H. Klumpner, Bridging the formal/informal city, 2009.

T. Lulle, F. Dureau, Le développement spatial de Bogota dans les années 1990 : une difficile reconquête de sa maîtrise parles pouvoirs publics, Revue de géographie de Lyon, V. 74-4, p. 291-300, 1999.

I. Payeras, A. Jastrzab, A. Motenegro, La production des quartiers et zones d’habitation non réglementé à Bogota, Ecole d’architecture de l’Université de Genève en collaboration avec Institut d’études du développement, Genève, 1975.

Localidad 19 : Ciudad Bolivar, Ficha Ambiental, Departamento technico administrativo del medio ambiente, DAMA, 2003.

Recorriendo Ciudad Bolivar 2004, diagnostico físico y socio économico de las localidades de Bogota, D.C. Departamento Administrativo de Planiación Distritale, Alcaldía Mayor de Bogotá, 2004.

N. Rueda-García, The case of Bogotá D.C., Colombia. 2003.

Etude de la gouvernance urbaine à Bogotá, 2009 

Recensamiento de familias en localisadas en alto riesgo non mitiable en el sector de Altos de la Estancia, localidad de Ciudad Bolivar, en Bogota, Foro iberamericano y del Caribe sobre mejoras practicas, 2005.

Caractérisation localidad de Ciudad Bolivar. Sectores: Seguridad ciudadana, democracia y participación, desarrollo économico, control urbanístico, análisis especial: Georreferenciación de la Inversión local 2004-2007. Secretaria distrital de planeación, instituto de estudios urbanos-Universidad Nacional. 2008.

Plan de Développement Economique, Social et de Travaux Publics pour la localité de Ciudad Bolivar 2002-2004, « Localité pour Mieux Vivre », 2008.

Bogota Positiva : Pour mieux vivre. Ciudad Bolivar, un défis collectif : pour une meilleur qualité de vie, Plan de développement pour la période 2009- 2012, 2008.

Resultados preliminares, encuesta de calidad de vidad 2003, Departamento Administrativo de Planeación Distrital, Bogota, noviembre 2003.

Encuesta calidad de vidad 2007, Resultados preliminares, Subsecretaría de Información y Estudios Estratégicos, Secretaria de planeación, Bogota, 2007.

Modify record (reserved for operators) Modify record (reserved for operators)