Quiet encroachment and spatial morphologies in Jallah Town, Monrovia, Liberia



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This paper will build upon the idea that informal settlements communities develop characteristic spatial morphologies as a response to outside forces. By understanding those forces and the resulting use of space, in particular public spaces, we can develop more appropriate urban design and planning interventions based in local realities. I begin by presenting the urban theories of Christopher Alexander and Bill Hillier, which provide analytical tools for understanding public space morphologies and the uses of public space. I then introduce Asef Bayat’s concept of quiet encroachment to more fully theorize the characteristics of public space as a response to the outside forces, in particular as an informal means of claiming space and rights to the city. Finally, I draw on this analytical and theoretical framework to analyze public space in the informal settlement of Jallah Town, in Monrovia, Liberia. I conclude by outlining how these analytical and theoretical tools can be used to further urban theory and international development and planning practice in informal settlements.