The word "sustainable" isn't often associated with slums. But planners say densely populated poor neighborhoods could be used as models for green living.
As such, large, densely populated, impoverished neighborhoods are in many ways on the cutting edge. Innovation comes of necessity, not because it's trendy, and due to the likelihood the future will bring larger, more densely populated slums, an unusual realm of urban planning has begun to take shape -- one that looks at making slums sustainable, rather than simply blights to be eradicated.
One of the reasons such slums are useful to study is they are indicative of what a consumer society forced to grapple with declining resources could look like. And because the slums consume less than more affluent districts, residents' demands for transportation and water supply infrastructure are often easier to address.
Urban renewal experts say while slums have obvious problems, including poor sanitation, disease and a lack of potable water, they provide cheap rent, close-knit communities, an escape from rural poverty and opportunities for employment. A growing sect of architects and urban designers like Brillembourg sees slums not as impediments to development but as places that should be embraced and improved.