Elisa Silva, “Territorial inequality and the urban Cassandras of our times

As slums emerged in the XX century due to rapid rural-urban migration, modern design discourse had developed an important chapter on multifamily housing that folded neatly into the shelter demands brought on by migration. Decades later, social housing continues to enjoy a prominent seat in design discourse and public policy despite the observable fact that self-built homes have been far more effective in housing important segments of the urban population in cities of the developing world, and have created a considerable proportion of the built environment. The stark territorial inequality this urban reality manifests seemingly remains outside the scope of social housing, and reveals a passive or even evasive response to this “urban Cassandra” of our time.

Inquiries into approaches to territorial inequality pursued by Enlace Arquitectura over the past 11 years include public space making, community engagement projects, public policy and research in urban and rural contexts. Please join this evolving conversation.

Elisa Silva is director and founder of Enlace Arquitectura established in Caracas Venezuela 2007. Projects focus on raising awareness of spatial inequality and the urban environment through public space, the integration of informal settlements and community engagement in rural landscapes. Public space interventions in informal settlements through participatory methodologies are also central to Enlace´s practice, and were recently featured in the XX Architecture and Urbanism Biennial in Valparaiso Chile 2017. Other awards include the XXII Ibero-American Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism for the Sabana Grande Pavement Project in Caracas Venezuela 2012; and the Walk 21 Award for Puerto Encantado Higuerote Venezuela 2015.

Elisa is co-author of Pro-Inclusion: Practical tools for the integral development of Latin American cities (CAF Latin American Development Bank, 2016) and CABA Cartography of the Caracas Barrios 1966-2014 (Fundación Espacio 2015). In 2017, she was awarded a Graham Foundation Grant for the publication Pure Space: Expanding the Public Sphere through Public Space Transformations in Latin American Informal Settlements, (Actar, 2019). In 2011, she received the Wheelwright Fellowship and the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome in 2005. She teaches at the Simon Bolívar University in Caracas Venezuela and is a consultant to UN Habitat and CAF. She grew up between St. Louis and Venezuela, and is a graduate of the GSD 2002.


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