Barrios are an urban phenomena that parallel the development of modern architecture in Latin America, which witnessed its peak in cities like Caracas, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Mexico City, and Buenos Aires during the 1950s and 1960s. At the same time, and even sooner, barrios were dotting the undeveloped peripheries and environmentally vulnerable landscapes of these very same cities. Each house in the barrios was built by a construction worker who migrated from the countryside to help build the modern city.

The Space of Representation and Falda´s Images of Rome

"Silva. E. The Space of Representation and Falda's Images of Rome. unpublished". 2007

The technique of perspective representation generated important changes in the development of Renaissance and Baroque cities.1 Images of ideal cities1 motivated architects and clients to build “real” versions of these stages into the urban fabric.2 The 17th century views of Rome engraved by Giovanni Battista Falda are a legacy to the ideal city panels, but in this case recognizable city structures and not abstract models, build the scenes. As perspective drawings, they record a constructed interpretation of real space through the translation of three dimensions onto a flat image that the mind in turn reinterprets back into volumes. The process layers dimensional variations and alterations over the original subject that the viewer then conflates into a single perceptual experience. In consequence, the distortions constructed into any one of Falda´s numerous perspectives misrepresent the city and challenge the raw visual data the viewer receives on site, producing an entirely new understanding of the actual space that lies somewhere between imagery and reality. Analysis of Falda´s engravings exposes the perspective drawing’s ability to condition the way in which we perceive space.

The axonometric drawings that illustrate the publication Pure Space: expanding the public sphere through public space transformations in Latin American spontaneous settlements, represent squares and parks in barrios operating as containers of activities and movement. They suggest a desired fluidity that precludes unspoken territorial barriers. The possibility of visualizing this aspiration through drawing begins a process of imagination, familiarization and eventual naturalization of city as hybrid, diverse, indissoluble and complete. Drawing can generate a critical process that recognizes and re-signifies barrios into integral parts of the cities they help form.

Land in Mexico includes vast territories that are legally registered as communal. They represent over 100 million hectares and 52 percent of the country´s territory. Not only have they been an important recourse for villagers to maintain access and control of farmland, they have allowed cultures to endure, helped preserve 63 indigenous languages, 350 spoken dialects and various forms of craft and culinary traditions. They have also produced a unique cultural landscape of patchwork-like agricultural fields, small villages and wooded forests, synthesized into shapes of color in paintings by Mexican artists. Unlike most other Latin American countries, where between 90 and 95% of inhabitants are urban dwellers, even today 20% of Mexicans remain rural land tenants. As we have become increasingly skeptical of civilization’s eminent progression toward cities, it is worth examining the inner workings imbedded in Mexico´s land use organization. Work we have been doing both professionally and academically in the Central Valley of Oaxaca, has given us a window into understanding the complexities of this territory, its vulnerabilities and the strength with which it has preserved its cultural landscape and lifestyle.

Inequality is commonly associated with the distribution of income and economic opportunities, but it is also evident in the built environment. This is especially true in the countries of the "global south," such as Venezuela, where informal settlements make inequality blatantly visible. This article will attempt to unpack the drivers that led to the formation of a “city within a city”, the political division of Caracas, its relation to the barrios and the territorial divide it generated, as well as an analysis of critical places and infrastructure significant to gaining or maintaining control of the city in the face of rising levels of unrest and conflict.