“Takes us on a journey throughout Latin America, highlighting different stories of adaptation to the wondrous American landscape: stories of cities being shaped by major infrastructure projects, cities coping with the pressures of informality and unchecked growth, and cities searching for their identity by looking at their pre-Columbian past while embracing modernity on their own terms.”–Juan Miró, University of Texas at Austin

“Provides unique insights that are fundamental for anyone interested in the history and the architecture of Latin America.”–Fernando Luiz Lara, author of The Rise of Popular Modernist Architecture in Brazil

Showing how the physical landscape and local ecology have influenced human settlement and built form in Latin America since pre-Columbian times, Shaping Terrain: City Building in Latin America, edited by René Davids, focuses on the ways existing topography has shaped post-colonial urbanism. Most urban centers and capitals of Latin American countries are situated on or near dramatically varied terrain, and this book explores the interplay between built works and their geographies in various cities including Bogotá, Caracas, Mendoza, México D. F., Rio de Janeiro, Santiago de Chile, and Valparaíso.

The multinational contributors have a broad range of professional experience as urbanists, historians, and architects. Many are globally renowned for their design work, and some are published here in English for the first time. They examine how humans negotiate with their existing surroundings and how built form expresses that relationship. Together, they suggest that settlement after the Spanish conquest was a continuation rather than an interruption of traditions of engagement with topography and the natural environment. Shaping Terrain is a wide-ranging representation of the unique legacy of Latin America’s urban heritage, which is a repository of possibilities for future cities.

René C. Davids, professor of architecture and urban design at the University of California, Berkeley, and a principal of Davids Killory Architecture, is the coauthor of the AsBuilt series: Details, Technology, and Form; Detail in Process; and Details in Contemporary Architecture.

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