Martha Schwartz recently gave a one and half hour presentation at Harvard GSD about her firm’s works and recently published book Recycling Spaces: Curating Urban Evolution: The Work of Martha Schwartz Partners. Martha Schwartz is Professor in Practice of Landscape Architecture at the GSD. A landscape architect and artist for over 29 years, she teaches a core studio and design studios focusing on artistic expression in the landscape.
In Venezuela 93% of the population live in cities, half of which inhabit urban slums. Upgrading initiatives to date have tended to focus on housing solutions to improve living conditions. However, graver issues affect the livelihood of slum dwellers on a daily basis. Alarmingly high homicide rates, frequent adolescent pregnancies and very high school dropout rates compromise every slum dweller´s quality of life and condemn them to a perpetual cycle of poverty. Health issues and low self dignity associated with living in severely degraded environmental conditions also diminish their livelihood. Improving the situation, therefore, goes beyond supplying mortar and brick to build better houses; it requires a holistic approach that seriously considers social and environmental deficiencies.