Urban theory and cities in latin america

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WUSTL School of Architecture

International Program

Buenos Aires – Fall 2010

Dr. Daniel Kozak


This course proposes to explore the relationship between urban theory and the spatial construction of the city by using a number of Latin American cities as case studies. Some of the theories that will be examined here have been proposed as a way of reading and explaining the form, structure and functioning of existing cities. Others have been put forward as models for the planning of new ones. In one way or another all of these urban theories have influenced and shaped the form and structure of our current cities and our ability to conceptualize them. The urban theories and cases reviewed will span from the colonial city to the contemporary metropolis and urban region. The disciplines from which this course will draw upon include urban planning, architecture, geography, urban sociology and anthropology. The scope of this course is intentionally broad and diverse as it aims to reflect the multitude of factors that are involved in urban phenomena. Some of the themes that will be examined include: the Spanish and Portuguese Colonial City; planned cities in the nineteenth century (the case of La Plata); modernization in Latin America; modernism and planned cities in the twentieth century (the case of Brasilia); the favelas in Brasil and villas miseria in Argentina; postmodernism and globalization in urban studies; urban fragmentation in the contemporary metropolis (using the cases of São Paulo and Buenos Aires) and the debate on the sustainable urban form. The aim of this course is to provide a forum in which to discuss general theories and issues in urban thought, using primarily the cases of the cities that students will visit and experience first-hand over the course of the program.


Most of the classes will start with a seminar discussion of subjects introduced in the previous lecture. Each student will be responsible for initiating at least one of these discussions during the course. This, along with class participation will count for 20% of the grade. Mid-term paper (6-10 pages, double-spaced): 30%. Final paper (8-12 pages, double spaced): 50%.


Week 1: Introduction


Week 2: The Spanish and Portuguese Colonial City

Lecture contents: Pre-Colombian cities. Laws of the Indies. Colonial institutions. Spanish vs. Portuguese Colonial City. The founding of Buenos Aires. The ‘Latin American City’.

Study visit: Plaza de Mayo area


Gilbert, A.(1994) The Latin American city. London: Latin America Bureau.

Hardoy, J.E. (2006) Pre-Colombian Cities. London: Routledge. [First published 1973]

Mignolo, W. (2005) The idea of Latin America. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.

Ortells Chabrera, V., Kent, R.B. and Soriano Martí, J., eds. (2005) Cities and Urban Geography in Latin America. Castellón de la Plana: Universitat Jaume I.

Week 3: Planning in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Lecture contents: City Beautiful Movement. Camillo Sitte. The case of La Plata. Madero’s vs. Huergo’s project. Noel Plan in Buenos Aires 1925.

Study visit: ‘Monumental’ Buenos Aires (Recoleta and Palermo Chico)


Gorelik, A. (2005) The Metropolis in the Pampas, 1890-1940. In: Lejeune, J.F. ed., Cruelty and Utopia: Cities and Landscapes of Latin America, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Architectural Press. pp.146-159.

Sargent, C. (1974) The Spatial Evolution of Greater Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1870-1930. Tempe, Arizona: Center of Latin American Studies, Arizona State University.

Scobie, J. R. (1974) Buenos Aires: plaza to suburb, 1870-1910. New York: Oxford University Press.

Week 4: The City as Organism

Seminar discussion: Planning in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century

Lecture contents: The organic analogy: from Ancient Greece to the Enlightenment. The Garden City Movement. The concept of ‘conurbation’ by Patrick Geddes. The Chicago School of Urban Ecology.


Burgess, E. W. (1967) The Growth of the City: An Introduction to a Research Project. In: Park, R. E., Burgess, E. W. and Mackenzie, R. D., eds The City. Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, pp. 47-62. [First published 1925]

Castells, M. (1977) The Urban Question: A Marxist Approach. London: Edward Arnold. [First published 1972]

Geddes, P. (1968) Cities in Evolution: An Introduction to the Town Planning Movement and to the Study of Civics. London: Ernest Benn Limited. [First published 1915]

Mumford, L. (1961) The City in History: Its Origins, its Transformations, and its Prospects. London: Secker & Warburg.

Sennett, R. (1994) Flesh and stone: the body and the city in Western civilization. New York; London: W.W. Norton.

Week 5: The City as Machine

Seminar discussion: The rise of Urban Sociology

Lecture contents: Modernism and planning in the twentieth century. Soviet Avant Gardes. The CIAM Congresses. The case of Brasilia. Pop & Tech in the 1960s (e.g. Archigram and the Metabolists). Modernization in Latin America.


Berman, M. (1983) All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity. London: Verso

Holston, J. (1989) The modernist city: an anthropological critique of Brasília. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Le Corbusier, p. (1967) The radiant city: Elements of a doctrine of urbanism to be used as the basis of our machine-age civilization. London: Faber and Faber. [First published 1933]

Mumford, E. P. (2000) The CIAM discourse on urbanism, 1928-1960. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Week 6: The City as Collage

Seminar discussion: The end of the ‘unitary city ideal’

Lecture contents: Postmodernism in urban studies. From the Situationists to Michel de Certeau. Aldo Rossi’s ‘City of Parts’. Rowe and Koetter’s ‘Collage City’. ‘Twenty Ideas for Buenos Aires’ Competition.


Cullen, G. (1961) Townscape. London: Architectural Press.

Harvey, D. (1990) The condition of postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Oxford: Blackwell.

Rowe, C. and Koetter, F. (1978) Collage City. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Rossi, A. (1982) The Architecture of the City. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. [First published 1966]

Smart, B. (1993) Postmodernity. London: Routledge.

Week 7: The City as Network

Lecture contents: Globalization in urban studies. The ‘glocal scalar fix’. New infrastructure rationales. Unbundling infrastructure and ‘splintering urbanism’. The World City Hypothesis. The Global City.

Submission of mid-term paper

Study visit: Puerto Madero


Ciccolella, P. and Mignaqui, I. (2002) Buenos Aires: Sociospatial Impacts of the Development of Global City Functions. In: Sassen, S., ed. Global networks, linked cities. New York: Routledge, pp. 309-326.

Jenks, M. and Kozak, D. (2008) Polycentrism and ‘defragmentation’: towards a more sustainable urban form? In: Jenks, M., Kozak, D. and Takkanon, P., eds ‘World Cities’ and Urban Form: fragmented, polycentric, sustainable? London: Routledge, pp. 71-92.

Friedmann, J. (1986) The World City Hypothesis. Development and Change. Vol. 17, pp. 69-83.

Graham, S. and Marvin, S. (2001) Splintering urbanism: networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: Routledge.

Sassen, S. (1991) The global city: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.


Week 8: Urban Fragmentation in the Contemporary Metropolis

Lecture contents: Meaning of ‘fragmentation’ in urban studies. Fragmentation from metropolitan to architectural scale. Recent urban transformations and fragmentation. Distinctive and fragmented. Gentrification and fragmentation. The cases of Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Santiago de Chile.

Study visit: Abasto area


Burgess, R. (2005) Technological Determinism and Urban Fragmentation: A Critical Analysis. In: 9th

International Conference of the ALFA-IBIS Network on Urban Peripheries. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, July 11th–13th 2005, pp. 127-137.

Davis, M. (1990) City of quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles. London: Verso.

Kozak, D. (2008) Assessing Urban Fragmentation: The emergence of new typologies in central Buenos Aires. In: Jenks, M., Kozak, D. and Takkanon, P., eds ‘World Cities’ and Urban Form: fragmented, polycentric, sustainable? London: Routledge, pp. 239-258.

Week 9: Social Justice and the City

Seminar discussion: Urban Fragmentation

Lecture contents: Mapping socio-economic indicators. Center and periphery. Favelas in Brasil and villas miseria in Argentina. Squatted houses in Buenos Aires.


Davis, M. (2006) Planet of slums. London: Verso.

Harvey, D. (1973) Social justice and the city. London: Edward Arnold.

Lefebvre, H. (2002) The Right to the City. In: Bridge, G. and Watson, S., eds The Blackwell City Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 367-374. [First published 1968]

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2003) The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003. London: UN-Habitat.

Week 10: The City as a Growth Machine

Seminar discussion: The question of the villa miseria

Lecture contents: Neoliberalism and the City. Molotoch’s concept of ‘Growth Machine’. From Masterplanning to Strategic Planning. ‘Large-scale urban projects’.


Harvey, D. (2002) From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism. In: Bridge, G. and Watson, S., eds The Blackwell City Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 456-463. [First published 1989]

Molotch, H. (1976) The City as a Growth Machine. American Journal of Sociology. Vol. 82(2), pp. 309-330

Platkin, D. and Rosenbloom, B. (1999) The Seventh Generation: Alternatives to the Growth Machine. Retrieved in October 2005 from: http://www.plannersnetwork.org

Week 11: The Sustainable City

Seminar discussion: Political-economic models and urban transformations.

Lecture contents: The sustainable urban form debate. Compact vs. Dispersed City. Sustainable Transport Planning. Architecture, Urban Design, Planning and Energy Efficiency.


Breheny, M. J. (1996) Centrists, Decentrists and Compromisers: Views on the future of urban Form. In: Jenks, M., Burton, E. and Williams, K., eds The Compact City: a Sustainable Urban Form? Oxford: Alden Press

Burgess, R. (2000) The Compact City Debate: A Global Perspective. In: Jenks, M. and Burgess, R., eds Compact cities: sustainable urban forms for developing countries. London: E. & F.N. Spon, pp. 9-24.

de Schiller, S. and Evans, J. (2000) Urban Climate and Compact Cities in Developing Countries. In: Jenks, M. and Burgess, R., eds Compact cities: sustainable urban forms for developing countries. London: E. & F.N. Spon, pp. 117-124.

Newman, P. W. G. and Kenworthy, J. R. (1989) Cities and automobile dependence: a sourcebook. Aldershot: Gower.

Week 12: Tutorials

Individual tutorials (arrange schedule)

Week 13: Submission of final paper

Closing discussion: Urban Theory and Cities in Latin America

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