Introduction Technical infrastructures have been on the urban research agenda for almost two decades now. Although it has been pointed out that these socio-technical systems display distinct urban technological styles, the spatial variability and diversity of urban infrastructures have, however, been understudied (for this argument see Coutard 2008). This particularly applies to the context-shaped, and contextshaping, interactions between infrastructure provision and urban development in the global South. Until today, planning concepts for, and academic debates on, “modern” cities and infrastructures refl ect the conditions and ideals of a “networked city”. These include: (1) the concept of a centralised topology of standardised and universal technical networks covering the entire urban area; (2) the notion that urban utility companies provide for ubiquitous infrastructure services to all users; (3) the notion of passive customers who are not actively engaged in the production of infrastructure services; and fi nally (4) the assumption that the provision of infrastructure services is closely attached to or highly regulated by the state. Engineers, planners and public health offi cials worldwide have aspired to align with this circulating ideal of urban modernity, hygiene, universalisation and rationalisation of space in (re)producing cities (cf. e.g. Dupuy 2008; Melosi 2008). While the current trends of commercialisation and sociotechnical diversifi cation and decentralisation challenge this modern infrastructure ideal worldwide, the urban realities in the global South, which differ greatly from those of the industrial countries, have always challenged the transfer of the networked city model. Since the 1970s engineers and planners have thus promoted a turn toward decentralised, on-site sanitation solutions (cf. van Vliet et al. 2010).