Shape grammar - bottom-up urban development strategy for Maputo´s informal settlements

Pedro BARROS *1

José Nuno BEIRÃO *1

*1 Faculdade de Arquitetura da Universidade de Lisboa


One of the world´s main demographic events, presently, is the fast growing number of people moving to the cities and the expansion of areas of informal settlements, generaly regarded as ‘slums’. According to the UN-Habitat, in Mozambique´s capital city of Maputo, 70% of the polulation live in these settlements and the numbers are increasing. Slum cities grow daily by self-organization where the collective creates rules and builds solid social and cultural structures, which are the base for urbanity. The lack of integrated tools to analyze the complexity of these fabrics hampers the ability to maximize the response of plans and strategies to these contextual conditions. This paper shows preliminary results of an ongoing research that aims at develop such a tool. The goal is the development of a new computational tool to support planning decisions envisioning the rehabilitation, densification, and improvement of informal settlements in Mozambican context. It intends to capture the morphological qualities underlying urban growth dynamics in specific cultural environments employing a shape grammar and reuse improved versions of the rules (constrained by qualitative standards) to promote the generation of new urban solutions fitting the cultural context. For the purpose, the Shape Grammar formalism will be applied resorting to its analytical and generative vocations.