Hybrid cities

Hybrid cities: informal resistances to the violence of urbanization in China, India, and Venezuela (2016-2019)

The research is situated in the context of contemporary urbanism, marked by a tendency to enforce urbanization, often at the expense of informal settlements, under the guise of meticulously planned territorial development. In response, these informal communities resist formalization and the intended demolition of their homes, occasionally resorting to acts of resistance that mirror the violence they experience. This ongoing struggle between formal and informal urban dynamics can give rise to hybrid structures, blending elements of informal slums and formal skyscrapers, symbolizing a new urbanism. This transformation offers a fresh and critical perspective on prevailing models of formal urbanization, which frequently clash with the inhabitants of informal settlements, sparking various forms of resistance.

The project unfurls across three prominent cities, each embodying a facet of the broader process in which social struggles intersect with urban challenges, fostering innovative urban practices and manifestations of urbanity. In Caracas, the research explores the architectural hybridization embodied by the Torre David, currently inhabited by residents from informal settlements. Chennai is the focal point for investigating urban hybridization resulting from the encroachment of formal economies into slum areas. Meanwhile, in Guangzhou, the study revolves around territorial hybridization arising from the amalgamation of rural-informal and urban-formal elements in urban villages.

PI: MER Yves Pedrazzini (LASUR), co-PI: Florence Graezer Bideau

Funding: CODEV seed money in 2015 (Vertical Slums/Versatile Cities: recherche interdisciplinaire sur l‘urbanisme hybride et la fabrication de la ville contemporaine. Contre-enquête sur la Torre David, Caracas, Venezuela) & SNSF Div 1

Research Team: Salomé Houllier & Caroline Iorio (PhD candidates LASUR)

Partnerships: Prof. Michele Bonino (PoliTO); Dr. Ranee Vedamuthu (Anna University, Chennai); Prof. Maria Elena Ghersi (Instituto de Estudios Avanzados and Fundación Caracas) and Prof. Francesca Frassoldati (South China University of Technology, Guangzhou).

Recent activities :

  • Monthly seminar on “Architecture and resistance” in 2016 and 2017.

  • Master class with Yves Pedrazzini “Urban scars, ghosts, and collective memories: heritage and resistance in Beijing and Mexico-City” at Anna University, Chennai, in 2017.

Recent publications :

  • Houllier, Salomé, Iorio, Caroline, Pedrazzini, Yves and Graezer Bideau, Florence. (2017). In the [Big] Hybrid Cities. How the Concept of Hybridization helps us to understand the production of urban space, architecture and urbanism in the Global South, working paper, EPFL, Lasur.

PhD theses :

  • Samolé Houllier. “Singularité des slums: Production de l’espace dans la ville indienne”. Co-direction with Dr. Yves Pedrazzini (Laboratoire de sociologie urbaine, EPFL). EPFL Thesis n° 9565, defended on November 8, 2019.
  • Caroline Iorio, “Anomalies urbaines ” : un urbanisme d’occupation à Hong Kong et Caracas. Enquête, théorie et méthode”. Co-direction with Dr. Yves Pedrazzini (Laboratoire de sociologie urbaine, EPFL), EPFL Thesis n°7972, defended on September 24, 2021.