Intercessions among American architecture students and a Puerto Rican informal settlement

  • Jean M Caldieron Florida Atlantic University,
  • Emmanouil Vermisso Florida Atlantic University,
  • Mate Thitisawat Florida Atlantic University,
Keywords: Informal settlements, community design, tourism potential, old San Juan


This paper presents the research and design experiences of American students of architecture working on a research project in the Puerto Rican informal settlement of LaPerla. This neighborhood is located adjacent to the historic city of San Juan, Puerto Rico, (aUNESCO World Heritage Site) and has been segregated from the rest of the city since the first settlers invaded a plot of land about 100 years ago. This paper presents part of the experience of faculty members and more than 180 architecture students from the continental UnitedStates, who have visited Puerto Rico in the last 6 years, as an attempt to incorporate studies of informal settlements in their academic curriculum (through 14 field trips overall). A large research project has been developed to individually study approximately 400 dwellings in this sector. This experience has allowed students to understand the reality of urban slums in a developing country not as spectators, but through designing real architectural and urban projects with the potential to benefit the community, as well as conduct research on disciplines which are relevant to their future profession. As a result, several architectural proposals have been designed by the students, and presented to the local authorities for consideration and further joint development under social programs that will complement the proposed design interventions.This study is part of a collaborative effort between Florida Atlantic University, the community of La Perla, and the local government of San Juan and has been partially financed through an ARCC grant. The work aims to integrate La Perla with the rest of San Juan and improve the quality of life through research and design.
How to Cite
Caldieron, J., Vermisso, E., & Thitisawat, M. (2014). Intercessions among American architecture students and a Puerto Rican informal settlement. ARCC Conference Repository.