The Everyday Exceptionalism of Temporary Settlements

The role of urban design response

Authored by: Rachel Berney

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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Unsettledness can be defined as frequently changing the place in which one dwells or lives; this is one of the characteristics of those who are houseless or refugees, as well as others who move by force or choice. The numbers of those who are unsettled globally make “unsettledness” a prominent characteristic of contemporary urbanism. Those who are unsettled are also often described as occupying spaces that do not belong to them and are often perceived as the “other.” This chapter explores urban design responses to unsettledness and “temporary” settlement. It focuses on those who become unsettled through disaster or crisis – such as war or political conflict, natural disaster, or economic displacement – and the consequences of resulting changes in the built environment, including rapid growth, shifts in the locations of populations, conflicts over public space, and changing needs for basic services. The chapter provides an overview of unsettledness and its relationship to everyday life and the rise of an “urbanism of exception” experienced in human settlements globally. It then presents the challenge for urban design and a path forward.

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