Urban Design & Social Architecture

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Article for “Urbana” magazine - special edition about the slums: “An Urban Challenge”


In 2001, the projects of upgrading the squatter settlements were paralyzed for unknown political reasons. Therefore, Carola decided to pursue a Master of Urban Design at Columbia University in New York. She arrived a few days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. 

Carola was invited to write for the Urbana magazine, where she describes her experience in the following way:


"On September 11, I saw from the roof of my apartment in Brooklyn, everything that happened. It was almost impossible to believe that wanting to escape from the instability of Latin American underdevelopment; I had come to the capital of the world to witness such a shocking event. I realized that the problem was global not local. The notably social, cultural and economic differences, the violence, vulnerability and imbalance are collective coincidences from the first and third world."




Academic project – “Public Playful Spaces”



In 2002, Carola formally studied the design workshop on urban physical upgrading corresponding to the mastership in urban design she pursued at the Universidad Central de Venezuela. Carola not only obtained the highest grade but also developed a playful and creative design system of urban design for the solution of multiple problems based on its similarities.


After a thorough audiovisual documentation of selected spaces in the slums of Altos de Lídice, Carola was able to observe and identify the diverse areas that were used for recreational activities. This led her to develop a systematic methodology by an easily understandable imagery of multiple elements for the urban design of spaces as well as its elements (e.g. benches, trash cans, posts, sports equipment and recreational games). The method could be applied in collaboration with communities (created by different authors and built through the reuse and recycling of materials) in a sustainable manner.

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Occupancy: 1 029 inhabitants

Renovation project - Community center, child care center, public spaces and urban furniture


Carola was a member of the designing team for the physical restoration of a squatter settlement located in the town of “La Antena”. The design developed new infrastructure networks including the conversion of main and secondary roadways, turning them into entryways for the projected condominiums as well as urban equipment for educational and sports recreation. Carola renovated and adapted an abandoned radio station for the creation of a community center, a child care center as well as public spaces and urban furniture.

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©Carolina Tinoco

©Andres Manner


Petare Norte

Occupancy: 70 acres, 25 000 inhabitants

Winning project of the “First Ideas Competition – General Urban Development Proposals for the Physical Outfitting of the Slums”


The prize received for winning the contest was the opportunity to work for one year with the organized community of the area in order to perform a site analysis and create an urban schematic design where 80 replacement housing units were conceived as well as the preliminary layout to connect the “José Félix Ribas” roadway. 

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©Nicola Rocco



Estado Monagas

Prototype of a house with oil-related waste


In 1997, Carola and her team left one semester to live in a slum at “Punta de Mata”, an oil city. Their goal was to replace the precarious “rancho” housing of the poorest family in town for more-efficient housing facilities. Their creative approach included the use of oil-related waste to build the facilities as well as experimenting with new materials, such as soil and concrete to build blocks. This led to an interaction with various local communities; teaching them constructive techniques and motivating them to build their own houses with elements they could reuse, recycle or find locally.

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©Thomas Opitz


©Thomas Opitz



La Vega

Occupancy: 38 acres, 12 500 inhabitants

Physical upgrading of squatter settlements


In 1996, Carola participated in the general preliminary designs for the physical upgrading of squatter settlements. In Venezuela, squatter settlements or “barrios” constitute the most important urban occupation, where most part of the population live. The Urban Physical Up-grading of the barrios was designed to improve the urban conditions of these settlements, which demands cooperation among the communities, the Government, the private sector, professionals, researchers, technicians and international organizations. It was a exemplar project, used as a reference in various courses and contests held in Venezuela and used as a model in the book of the Seventh Biennial of Havana (2000). 

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©Mateo Pinto

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Occupancy: 32 acres, 9 000 inhabitants

Distrito Federal

Pilot urban project

In 1995, while pursuing her studies in Architecture in Caracas (Venezuela), Carola was responsible for the design of the first case of physical upbringing of semi-private and private areas in condominiums located in squatter settlements. This allowed her to have a huge involvement with social causes and the freedom to experiment with both design techniques and interact with the community.

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Courtesy of Amhabitat