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Eva Schwab

A ‘new generation’ of governmental upgrading programmes for informal settlements in Latin America has set out to address the material deficits of these areas as well as the empowerment of residents. Public spaces are their key intervention sites, in the hope that this will trigger wider social and physical change. This chapter uses one informal settlement in Medell'n, Colombia, to show that the initiative’s focus on public ‘urban’ spaces introduces new types of open spaces and associated patterns of use. While in some cases this has led to an increased quality of life for the inhabitants, this article highlights that it has also resulted in a neglect of more traditional forms of landscape use and management, such as urban agriculture in communal spaces. The author argues for a ‘re-conceptualisation’ of public space to create open spaces anchored in people’s current spatial practices and at the same time offer leeway for future developments.