Kellett, Peter. "Original Copies? Imitative Design Practices in Informal Settlements," in ArchNet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 7, issue 1 (2013): 151-161.
Although limited by economic constraints, builder-dwellers in informal, self-made environments are free to choose housing forms and materials without external constraint or control. This situation potentially offers considerable freedom for expressive gestures, originality and individuality. Drawing on data from a longitudinal ethnographic study in Colombia this paper explores how dwelling forms and practices are characterised by imitative behaviours at a range of scales including settlemen layouts, house plans, selection of materials and house furnishings. The main arena for competitive display and distinction is on the front facades of the dwellings where variations in colour and form become increasingly evident as settlements consolidate. The paper utilises Bourdieu’s concepts of distinction and cultural capital to explore the changing dynamics of housing design and display, and to explain why as dwellings consolidate, there appears to be an increasing divergence between dwelling forms and domestic practices.