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The real new urbanism: Engaging developing world cities

Gabriel Fuentes


While the developing world is projected to urbanise rapidly during the next 40 years, canonical social and architectural/urban theory positions western modernisation (read: the developed world) as an ideal model for development. Yet modernity in the developing world is complex and operates at a wide range of physical and temporal scales; it resists the total homogenising processes of ‘western’ modernisation even as it absorbs them into its development patterns and spatial practices. This provides an opportunity to rethink normative architectural and urban design practices, to pursue new forms of expanded critical practices capable of engaging developing world cities intelligently and productively. In order to theorise such practices, this article investigates developing world modernity, redefines traditional notions of ‘site’, ’criticality’ and ‘context’ through an anthropological theory of locality, and challenges post-criticality as a viable response to the complexity of global economic, political, and environmental crisis.


Urbanisation, slums, critical, post-critical, modernity, urban ecology, developing world.

Full Text: JOSS_2013_P167-178