Informal Urbanism

About this issue

Issue number
Volume 37 – Number 1
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Guest editor: Yasser Elsheshtawy
08 Apr 2014
This issue of Built Environment examines the notion of informality in cities, offering examples of cutting edge research concerning the subject. The contributors address informal urbanism in a number of ways, showing not just the subject’s versatility and diversity, but also allowing for some common themes to emerge – in spite of geographical, methodological and theoretical differences. 
Mahyar Arefi in his exploration of the Pinar settlement in Istanbul and Kim Dovey and Ross King in their examination of Southeast Asian informal residential formations seek an underlying order, a typology of sorts. Tom Anyamba’s interrogation of Nairobi and Gareth Doherty and Moises Silva’s exploration of one of Rio’s infamous favelas focus on socio-economic factors. Informal urbanism as a strategy for survival and assertion of an ethnic identity is a theme that unites both Petra Kuppinger’s study of an Islamic community centre in Stuttgart and Yasser Elsheshtawy’s mapping project of Abu Dhabi’s urban spaces and their use by a marginalized segment of society. Most importantly, these papers show that informal urbanism enriches the lives of city inhabitants and in many ways strengthens the liveability of cities.


  • The Informal Turn
    Yasser Elsheshtawy
  • Forms of Informality: Morphology and Visibility of Informal Settlements
    Kim Dovey and Ross King
  • Formally Informal: Daily Life and the Shock of Order in a Brazilian Favela
    Gareth Doherty and Moises Lino E Silva
  • Order in Informal Settlements: A Case Study of Pinar, Istanbul
    Mahyar Arefi
  • Informal Urbanism in Nairobi
    Tom Anyamba
  • Vibrant Mosques: Space, Planning and Informality in Germany
    Petra Kuppinger
  • Informal Encounters: Mapping Abu Dhabi’s Urban Public Spaces
    Yasser Elsheshtawy
  • Publication Reviews