URBAN DESIGN: Working With the Lay of the Land


80% of people in Latin America live in cities. Architect René Davids provides an account of how the topographical settings and pre-Colombian use patterns of these cities have influenced modern urban infrastructure.

The built environment is an expression of culture in material form, and the land upon which cities are built is a dynamic surface manipulated to enrich urban culture with varying degrees of success. Throughout the history of human settlement in Latin America, topography and the ecological conditions produced and affected by it have both inspired significant environmental ingenuity and aggravated the region’s unique social, economic, and political struggles. The examples of Bogotá, Medellín, Caracas, Mendoza, Rio de Janeiro, and Mexico City, among many others, demonstrate how topographical settings, which have supported richly diverse patterns of settlement since pre-Hispanic times or newer cities like Valparaíso, continue to strongly influence their urban fabric and infrastructure...

Publication date: 
August 17, 2016
Publication type: 
Berkeley Review of Latin American Studies Article