Informal settlements are pervasive in urban areas of developing countries. They dominate a greater percent of the cities and are characterized by poor infrastructure supply, degraded environment and poverty. Most revitalization efforts ignored informality and so fail. Yet the essence of informality speaks of the indomitable will and perseverance of the urban poor to partake in formality in the face of lack of infrastructure, services and amenities. Within this essence of informality is contained some design elements that have been used as catalyst to trigger change in place-making in some parts of the world. These elements, though untested in developing countries, have been found to work as facilitators of change in developed countries. Place-making is a concept where social and political processes are used to create value and meaning in a particular setting. This paper therefore explores the existing principles of informality found in African settlements, and compares them to urban design elements that have facilitated revitalization in developed countries with a view to making a case for the use of place-making as a possible initial approach for shaping informality in developing countries.
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