Urban morphology of informally built dwellings: counter-mapping coastal cities of Montenegro

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Purpose: Informal dwellings describe makeshift lodgings made from temporary materials, such as plastic, corrugated iron, sheeting, packing cases, or wood. These units allow low-income groups to informally occupy land and create their habitable space in a phased manner. This article focuses on elements of the urban morphology, such as density, accessibility, and operating assortment of informally built areas in the southern region of Montenegro. Design/methodology/approach: The author examines the urban morphologies of four urban areas, whose informality is traditionally viewed as markers of decline and despair. Using observations, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews, the investigator maps dwellings in Ulcinj, Budva, Tivat, and Herceg Novi neighbourhoods. The researcher interrogated participants about land distribution during the construction of sheds, buildings' outline and orientation toward the street, and activities performed in their dwellings, such as living, working, and accommodating relatives and guests. This methodology tests the hypothesis, formulated as a deeper understanding of urban morphology for examining the interweaving of informally built settlements with the rest of the city. Findings: A cartographic investigation is used to reframe customary rights of low-income populations to land inclusion and their place in the city. The results clearly show that the location and lifestyle are designed to obfuscate the vulnerable populations from the public view, disconnected from policymaking, and ignored by urban planning projects. However, the interviewees' destinations orientation away from the downtowns represents the possibility of reconfiguring existing urban planning practices. For creating alternative urbanisation, the orientation of less visible neighbourhoods presents a model for building regulations embedded in social forces and cultural habits of all social and ethnic groups. Research limitations/implications: This study did not address the implementation of social hosing policies and the logistical limitations of realising them by the local and national governments. During firework, the author encountered dwellers outside four studied low-income neighbourhoods in the south region of Montenegro. Mapping morphological elements of these generally small clusters of informal built units are left for future research. Future studies could examine how informality is performed in Montenegro by moderate and high-income groups as an assemblage of different power relationships and urban practices. Practical implications: The argument is based on counter urbanism as the orientation and destination of less visible neighbourhoods for creating building regulations embedded in social forces and cultural habits of all social and ethnic groups. This study showed that the urban morphology of informality in the coastal cities of Montenegro lays the ground for alternative urban planning practices based on the different interconnection of districts. The outcome is a strong link between different social and ethical groups through self-building practices. Social implications: In coastal cities of Montenegro, Roma, Ashkali, and Egyptian live with other low-income groups in unsanitary settlements characterised by poor living conditions, low-quality illegally built housing, no plumbing or sewage systems, and overcrowded urban areas. Mapping morphological elements of less visible urban areas propose shifting from top-down urban planning policies to a participatory model of developing urban areas. Originality/value: The assemblage of informally built urban areas legitimise place in the city that goes against the housing market's dominant logic and exceeds alternative logics of building production. This article outlined the urban morphologies of four urban areas for turning the image of informality away from decline and despair to lessons of urban interconnection. By creating different maps, the author presented a diverse orientation of four case studies based on density, accessibility, and operating assortment.

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International Jouranl of Architectural Research: Archnet-IJAR



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