Informal Roots

An Open Atlas


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SpecificationsISBN: 978-8-832080-51-3 Binding: Soft Bound Pages: 264pp Publication Date: Spring 2021 Size: 6.3” x 9.05” Portrait World Rights: Available

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This work is based on the observation that within contemporary metropolises there is a worldwide rooting process of informal cities. These informal cities are structured around themselves and thrive despite the odds; they settle in the collective imagination, thus producing an unprecedented social-cultural mutation. This paradigm shift is gradually triggering processes of “non-replacement” that can be observed in the physical pattern of the settlements, which begin to mutate and adapt to the logic of stabilization and reorganization. This work interprets this phenomenon systematically and thoroughly, analyzing the urban tissue of four favelas in Rio de Janeiro (a favorable context to observe informal cities) in morphological terms. We have spent much time traveling, observing, mapping, and drawing the territories, which allowed us to analyze them on a grand scale in order to explore the variations of the rooting process in the metropolis. It also helped analyze them on a small scale in order to identify and understand the syntax of their evolution and the micro-transformations of their urban tissue. The main aim was to examine these yet unexplored territories with the accuracy required for academic studies as well as observe them through the “eyes of the architect,” overcoming the difficulties represented by the hyper-complexity, marginalization and the difficulty of access. The aim was to create a new and precise catalog of the informal, which gathers examples of actions, forms and urban spaces created by the rooting process, and which can be used to better understand and interpret informal space.

Alessandro Tessari has studied in the University Institute of Architecture of Venice and in the University of Architecture of Seville. He finished his degree with Bernardo Secchi and Guillermo Vazquez Consuegra, with whom he collaborated from 2005 to 2008. He has a PhD in Architecture from Villard d’Honnecourt – IUAV of Venice and in Urbanism at Prourb – URFJ of Rio de Janeiro. He has been visiting professor at Università IUAV di Venezia, Roma Tre of Rome, Catholic University of Pereira and Javeriana University of Bogotà. He has been a professor at Politecnico di Milano since 2018.




Soft Bound



Publication date

Spring 2021


6.3” x 9.05” Portrait

World rights