Urban qualities and residents’ strategies in compact global south cities: the case of Havana
Journal article, 2022

Research and policy argue for more compact cities to respond to sustainable development challenges. However, what actually needs to be made more compact and how, is under examined, particularly in global South cities where north notions of urban qualities are adopted without being questioned. Informed by a qualitative study in informal and compact neighborhoods in Havana, this paper explores which qualities are important to deliver more just cities, and what strategies are developed by residents to strengthen beneficial qualities and address detrimental qualities in contexts of informal urbanization and compactness. It shows how the street, human capital, neighborhood, housing affordability, citizenship and vibrancy are significant compact city qualities neglected in the literature. Finally, the paper shows how diverse strategies are developed by residents to draw upon these qualities, such as self-help urbanism, learning and innovation, economic entrepreneurship, networks of solidarity, economies of reciprocity, local imaginaries and active citizenship.


Compact cities


Public space

Informal settlements



María José Zapata Campos

University of Gothenburg

Jaan-Henrik Kain

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Urban Design and Planning

Michael Oloko

Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science & Technology

Jenny Stenberg

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Architectural theory and methods

Patrik Zapata

University of Gothenburg

Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

1566-4910 (ISSN) 1573-7772 (eISSN)

Vol. 37 1 529-551

Subject Categories

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Economic Geography

Human Geography



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Latest update

4/5/2022 5