• Master Plans and Encroachments: The Architecture of Informality in Islamabad
    Faiza Moatasim
    University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023
    Faiza Moatasim

Faiza Moatasim, "Multistoried dwellings in France Colony," 2013. Digital photograph. Courtesy the author

Encroachments in comprehensively planned cities have mostly been conceptualized as contradictions to the ideal “plan.” But in cities today, informal urban processes are deeply enmeshed with formal planning procedures. Master Plans and Encroachments presents informality in Islamabad—designed in 1959 by Greek architect and planner, Constantinos A. Doxiadis—as an orientation to law rather than an absence of law. While plans and encroachments are normatively seen in architectural and planning discourses as fundamentally different and separate categories, plans regulate and create conditions for their own encroachments. The master plan of Islamabad has adapted because it has already been modified by the encroaching spaces that orient themselves toward it, creating an ongoing interplay between plans and encroachments. This book also shows that architectural forms and aesthetics are central to how people build encroachments and how city officials tolerate them. It thus asserts the centrality of contingency—of both the master plan and its violations—in actual city-making.

Faiza Moatasim is an assistant professor of architecture in urbanism and urban design at the University of Southern California’s (USC) School of Architecture. She specializes in history and theory of architecture and urban design, modern colonial and post-colonial architecture and urbanism, low-income housing, and urban informality. Moatasim’s research explores how the agency of individuals and communities in shaping their built environments is integral to our understanding of the planning, functioning, and everyday lived experiences of cities everywhere. Alongside Master Plans and Encroachments: The Architecture of Informality in Islamabad (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), she is working on a second book on the architecture of displacement and resistance of low-income tenants in Los Angeles. Her research has been supported by the Social Science Research Council, American Institute of Pakistan Studies, Mellon Foundation, International Institute for Asian Studies, Teagle Foundation, and Foundation for Urban and Regional Studies. She is the director of Ordinary Urbanism Research Lab and USC School of Architecture’s Center for City Design.