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How slums can save the planet

Sixty million people in the developing world are leaving the countryside every year. The squatter cities that have emerged can teach us much about future urban living

By Stewart Brand   February 2010

Dharavi, Mumbai, where population density reaches 1m people per square mile

In 1983, architect Peter Calthorpe gave up on San Francisco, where he had tried and failed to organise neighbourhood communities, and moved to a houseboat in Sausalito, a town on the San Francisco Bay. He ended up on South 40 Dock, where I also live, part of a community of 400 houseboats and a place with the densest housing in California. Without trying, it was an intense, proud community, in which no one locked their doors. Calthorpe looked for the element of design magic that made it work, and…

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