Vertical public buildings in the Informal City: 3 projects by Urban Think-Tank

The informal city of the future cannot be conceived of as a one dimensional space. The buildings we design, in particular public buildings, can no longer conform. Finding a site, laying out and allocating space for various sports facilities may soon become an out-dated concept.

In the informal city, the architecture and engineering of the public space must take on a new form which recognizes the challenges of the setting or context.

Here are 3 projects by Urban Think-Tank, which challenge the notion that the functions and areas of a public building should and can be spread over a site horizontally. When introducing the challenges of dense communities and scarcity of land, what form does the building then take?

According to Urban Think Tank, typically there no existing open land in the Barrios (neighbourhoods) to construct on. “Previous training facilities of this nature were conceived only on the ground level, and due to the densely built surroundings, further outward expansions were impossible. So, Urban-Think Tank realized any additional construction had to go up vertically.”

What if we placed the tennis court above the basketball court above the swimming pool above the classroom?


Location: Caracas, Venezuela


Location: New York, NY, USA


Location: Bello Campo, Caracas, Venezuela

Visit the Urban Think-Tank website to read more.

The point of departure for our research is architecture’s failure to define informal urbanism and its effects on the city. Both our current research and the trajectory of our work over the past decade aim at increasing understanding of the informal city from there perspectives:

  • From a humanitarian standpoint, urban shantytowns are wracked with problems, not the least of which are poverty and a lack of support from professionals.
  • From a theoretical standpoint, informality is a complex, nonlinear system in which patterns intersect and mutate in unexpected ways.
  • From a design standpoint, the “informal” can serve as a laboratory for the study of adaptation and innovation.