polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Community Aesthetics in Heliópolis

by Teresa García Alcaraz

Heliópolis is known as one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in São Paulo, with 120,000 people living in an area of less than one square mile. Legend has it that architect Ruy Ohtake once called it the ugliest part of the city, prompting members of the UNAS community organization to ask him to help make it beautiful.

Reversing the Panopticon

by Dieter Zinnbauer

The infamous Panopticon, conceived by Jeremy Bentham and thoroughly analyzed by Michel Foucault, is emblematic of architecture's role in surveillance and discipline — a blueprint for the perfect prison. It allows a watchman to observe inmates without them being able to tell whether anyone is actually watching them, generating an eerie sense of being monitored all the time.

Moscow’s Protected Landscapes

by Svetlana Samsonova

My home town, Moscow, has earned its reputation for abandoned industrial zones, flashy business districts and traffic jams. Visitors are often surprised to discover that it is also a green city.

Injustices of Informality

by Andrew Wade

William Hunter is an architect, urban designer and teaching fellow at The Bartlett Development Planning Unit (DPU), University College London. I recently caught up with him to discuss his new book, "Contested Urbanism in Dharavi: Writings and Projects for the Resilient City," a collaboration with Camillo Boano and Caroline Newton. Dharavi — perhaps the most famous informal settlement in the world — has featured on Polis many times and we're excited to return via William's experience.