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Original Copies? Imitative Design Practices in Informal Settlements

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Peter Kellett


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Although limited by economic constraints, builder-dwellers in informal, self-madeenvironments are free to choose housing forms and materials without externalconstraint or control. This situation potentially offers considerable freedom forexpressive gestures, originality and individuality. Drawing on data from a longitudinalethnographic study in Colombia this paper explores how dwelling forms and practicesare characterised by imitative behaviours at a range of scales including settlementlayouts, house plans, selection of materials and house furnishings. The main arenafor competitive display and distinction is on the front facades of the dwellings wherevariations in colour and form become increasingly evident as settlements consolidate.The paper utilises Bourdieu’s concepts of distinction and cultural capital to explore thechanging dynamics of housing design and display, and to explain why as dwellingsconsolidate, there appears to be an increasing divergence between dwelling formsand domestic practices.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kellett P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research

Year: 2013

Volume: 7

Issue: 1

Pages: 151-161

Print publication date: 01/03/2013

ISSN (electronic): 1938-7806

Publisher: ArchNet