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Micro Narrative
The Architecture of Agency
Kristine Stiphany
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In 1976, Brazilian architect Erminia Maricato referred to the informal practice of autoconstruction as a “possible architecture,” because its typologies changed depending on social experience and rapid urbanization.1 That same year, as cities became increasingly built informally, the United Nations promoted “assisted self-help” as an economical way to mitigate Latin America’s surging housing crisis by merging formal and informal construction processes. The allure of this alignment owes in part to fieldwork undertaken by a cohort of interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners, who argued that if informal environments built through autoconstruction were permitted to change they would improve, and eventually graft onto the formal city.2

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Erminia Maricato, “Autoconstrução, a arquitetura possível,” in A produção capitalista de casa (e a cidade) no Brasil industrial, ed. Erminia Maricato (São Paulo: Editora Alfa-Ômega, 1982), 71.
Rossella Rossetto, Organismos internacionais e a autoconstrução: Analisee reflexões sobre as politicas de habitação para população baixa renda (São Paulo: Faculdade de Aquitetura e Urbanismo, Universidade de São Paulo, 1993).