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robertogreco : caracas   12

Radical tactics transform Latin American cities | Opinion | Architectural Review
"Given that 85 per cent of the world’s housing is illegal, this book poses relevant questions: ‘Who is the city for? When are we going to recognise that favelas are not an aberration, but the primary urban condition? When will we come to terms with the fact that the favelas are not a problem of urbanity, but the solution? When will we accept that the favela is the city?’ Provocative and enticing in both its language and its subject, the fundamental right of shelter for our growing population is one of those truths that we can easily understand, but find ourselves powerless to plan for. As U-TT (Urban-Think Tank) writes, ‘The totally planned city is a myth.’ The optimistic, personal journeys in the book are a lesson in self-help and self-motivation that resonate, whatever city we inhabit."
justinmcguirk  latinamerica  cities  urban  urbanism  favelas  rogerzogolovitch  torredavid  alejandroaravena  bogotá  caracas  lima  chile  colombia  venezuela  quintamonroy  iquique 
june 2015 by robertogreco
The smartest cities rely on citizen cunning and unglamorous technology | Cities | The Guardian
"Ignore the futuristic visions of governments and developers, it’s humble urban communities who lead the way in showing how networked technologies can strengthen a city’s social fabric"



"We are lucky enough to live at a time in which a furious wave of innovation is breaking across the cities of the global south, spurred on both by the blistering pace of urbanisation, and by the rising popular demand for access to high-quality infrastructure that follows in its wake.

From Porto Alegre’s participatory budgeting and the literally destratifying cable cars of Caracas, to Nairobi’s “digital matatus” and the repurposed bus-ferries of Manila, the communities of the south are responsible for an ever-lengthening parade of social and technical innovations that rival anything the developed world has to offer for ingenuity and practical utility.

Nor is India an exception to this tendency. Transparent Chennai’s participatory maps and the work of the Mumbai-based practices CRIT and URBZ are better-known globally, but it is the tactics of daily survival devised by the unheralded multitude that really inspire urbanists. These techniques maximise the transactive capacity of the urban fabric, wrest the very last increment of value from the energy invested in the production of manufactured goods, and allow millions to eke a living, however precarious, from the most unpromising of circumstances. At a time of vertiginously spiralling economic and environmental stress globally, these are insights many of us in the developed north would be well advised to attend to – and by no means merely the poorest among us.

But, for whatever reason, this is not the face of urban innovation official India wants to share with the world – perhaps small-scale projects or the tactics of the poor simply aren’t dramatic enough to convey the magnitude and force of national ambition. We hear, instead, of schemes like Palava City, a nominally futuristic vision of digital technology minutely interwoven into the texture of everday urban life. Headlines were made around the planet this year when Narendra Modi’s government announced it had committed to building no fewer than 100 similarly “smart” cities.

Because definitions of the smart city remain so vague, I think it’s worth thinking carefully about what this might mean – beyond, that is, the 7,000 billion rupees (£70bn) in financing that India’s high powered expert committee on urban infrastructure believes the scheme will require over the next 20 years. It is one thing, after all, to reinforce the basic infrastructures that undergird the quality of urban life everywhere; quite another to propose saddling India’s cities with expensive, untested technology at a time when reliable access to electricity, clean drinking water or safe sanitary facilities remain beyond reach for too many.

We can take it as read that our networked technologies will continue to play some fairly considerable role in shaping the circumstances and possibilities experienced by billions of city-dwellers worldwide. So it’s only appropriate to consider the ways in which these technologies might inform decisions about urban land use, mobility and governance.

However, especially at a time of such enthusiasm for the notion in India, I think it’s vital to point out that “the smart city” is not the only way of bringing advanced information technology to bear on these questions of urban life. It’s but one selection from a sheaf of available possibilities, and not anywhere near the most responsive, equitable or fructifying among them.

We can see this most easily by considering just who it is the smart city is intended for – by seeking to discover what model of urban subjectivity is inscribed in the scenarios offered by the multinational IT vendors that developed the smart city concept in the first place, and who are heavily involved in sites like Palava. When you examine their internal documentation, marketing materials and extant interventions, it becomes evident there is a pronounced way of thinking about the civic that is bound up in all of them, with rather grim implications for the politics of participation.

A close reading leaves little room for doubt that vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Siemens, Cisco and Hitachi construct the resident of the smart city as someone without agency; merely a passive consumer of municipal services – at best, perhaps, a generator of data that can later be aggregated, mined for relevant inference, and acted upon. Should he or she attempt to practise democracy in any form that spills on to the public way, the smart city has no way of accounting for this activity other than interpreting it as an untoward disruption to the orderly flow of circulation. (This is explicit in Palava’s marketing materials, as well.) All in all, it’s a brutally reductive conception of civic life, and one with little to offer those of us whose notions of citizenhood are more robust."



"The true enablers of participation turn out to be nothing more exciting than cheap commodity devices, reliable access to sufficiently high- bandwidth connectivity, and generic cloud services. These implications should be carefully mulled over by developers, those responsible for crafting municipal and national policy, and funding bodies in the philanthropic sector.

In both these cases, ordinary people used technologies of connection to help them steer their own affairs, not merely managing complex domains to a minimal threshold of competence, but outperforming the official bodies formally entrusted with their stewardship. This presents us with the intriguing prospect that more of the circumstances of everyday urban life might be managed this way, on a participatory basis, by autonomous neighbourhood groups networked with one another in something amounting to a city-wide federation.

In order to understand how we might get there from here, we need to invoke a notion drawn from the study of dynamic systems. Metastability is the idea that there are multiple stable configurations a system can assume within a larger possibility space; the shape that system takes at the moment may simply be one among many that are potentially available to it. Seen in this light, it’s clear that all the paraphernalia we regard as the sign and substance of government may in fact merely constitute what a dynamicist would think of as a “local maximum”. There remain available to us other possible states, in which we might connect to one another in different ways, giving rise to different implications, different conceptions of urban citizenship, and profoundly different outcomes.

The sociologist Bruno Latour warns us not to speak airily of “potential”, reminding us that we have to actually do the work of bringing some state of affairs into being before we can know whether it was indeed a possible future state of the system – and also that work is never accomplished without some cost. I nevertheless believe, given the very substantial benefits we know people and communities enjoy when afforded real control over the conditions of their being, that whatever the cost incurred in this exploration, it would be one well worth bearing.

The evidence before us strongly suggests that investment in the unglamorous technologies, frameworks and infrastructures that are already known to underwrite citizen participation would result in better outcomes for tens of millions of ordinary Indians – and would shoulder the state with far-less onerous a financial burden – than investment in the high-tech chimeras of centralised control. The wisest course would be to plan technological interventions to come on the understanding that the true intelligence of the Indian city will continue to reside where it always has: in the people who live and work in it, who animate it and give it a voice."

[See also: http://boingboing.net/2014/12/24/why-smart-cities-should-be.html ]
2014  adamgreenfield  urban  urbanism  collectivism  cities  innovation  smartcities  chennai  caracas  nairobi  portoalegre  digitalmatatus  manila  infrastructure  palavacity  technology  power  control  democracy  ows  occupywallstreet  urbz  crit  transparency  occupysandy  nyc  elcampodecebada  madrid  zuloark  zuloarkcollective  collectives  twitter  facebook  troughofdisallusionment  darkweather  networks  internetofpeople  brunolatour  grassroots  systems  systemsthinking  metastability  dynamicsystems 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Platforms of Visibility: Exploring legibility through the contemporary Latin American city on Vimeo
"Urban architecture inhabits sites of radical dynamic interchange, often acting as the focal point where a variety of visible and invisible flows converge. Global networks and processes transcend immediate notions of site and adjacency, forcing the restructuring of relationships around new definitions of scale, boundary, and spatiotemporality. Current networked and mobile infrastructures have not only radically redefined communication, but also how we interrogate and see our surroundings. For users of these networks, the whole idea of urban legibility and navigation has become immediate and much easier. But for those who study the contemporary city, these networks and processes only make the study of urban legibility that much more complex.

This thesis examines how architecture, as a primary participant in this stage, can serve as a legibility platform for the modern urban condition. Towards this goal, this thesis will begin by introducing a literature review into four overlapping tracks of research:

1.) Urban legibility 2.) Cartography 3.) Media Platforms 4.) Cineplastics

The thesis work will then focus on Latin America, widely acknowledged to be the most urbanized region in the world. Out of necessity, this region has re-established and advanced the necessary toolkit for radical urban transformation in the 21st century.

The research content will look at the idea of mapping networked forms of imageability within the context of three Latin American cities: Caracas, Venezuela; Medellin, Colombia; and Quito, Ecuador.

The interrogation of the research data at multiple scales and mediums in Quito, Ecuador will serve as primary driver for an architectural proposal sited in that city

The ambition for this thesis is to present a platform --- within the context of urban Latin America --- through which the dynamic contemporary urban condition --- and by extension the dynamic architectural condition --- can be put in focus."
spatiotemporality  urban  urbanism  latinamerica  quito  medellin  caracas  ecuador  venezuela  colombia  cities  socialmedia  visualization  mapping  maps  architecture  emmettruxes  scale  boundaries  flows  networks  adjacency  legibility  urbanlegibility  data  via:sha  video  visibility  planning  medellín 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Movie: Justin McGuirk on Torre David at Venice Architecture Biennale
"Curator Justin McGuirk tells us why his Golden Lion-winning installation about a community living in a vertical slum in Caracas could set an example for new forms of urban housing, in this movie we filmed at the Venice Architecture Biennale."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/48614749 ]
highrises  verticalslums  slums  caracas  venicebiennale  justinmcguirk  2012  urbanism  urban  latinamerica  venezuela  torredavid 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Conflict Kitchen
"Conflict Kitchen is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries with which the United States is in conflict. The food is served out of a take-out-style storefront that rotates identities every six months to highlight another country.  Each iteration of the project is augmented by events, performances, and discussions that seek to expand the engagement the public has with the culture, politics, and issues at stake within the focus country. These events have included live international Skype dinner parties between citizens of Pittsburgh and young professionals in Tehran, Iran; documentary filmmakers in Kabul, Afghanistan; and community radio activists in Caracas, Venezuela."
kabul  tehran  iran  caracas  venezuela  afghanistan  restaurants  culture  politics  food  pittsburgh 
march 2012 by robertogreco
ICON MAGAZINE ONLINE | Architecture Without Buildings
"A new generation of architects is demonstrating that we should stop and think before trying to solve a problem with a building.

They feel much more effective writing, researching, campaigning, occupying and performing than they do at the drawing board. They don't wait to be approached by clients; they see the potential to make a difference and they seize it. That might take the form of an installation, a book, a fireworks display or squatting for days in a condemned building.

Working in places such as Caracas, Tijuana, Zagreb and even Rome, Berlin and London, they operate at the limits of what we call "architecture". Yet in some way they can be seen as the conscience of their profession."

[via: http://nomadicity.tumblr.com/post/11946787180/ ]
unproduct  architecture  design  2008  practice  criticalpractice  teddycruz  anarkitektur  stalker  urbanthinktank  sandiego  tijuana  caracas  zagreb 
october 2011 by robertogreco
The Tower of David - Architecture - Domus
"In the early '90s Caracas dreamed of a shimmering downtown financial centre—now it's the tallest squat in the world"
architecture  building  squatters  skyscraper  caracas  venezuela  torredavid 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Squatters on the Skyline - Video Library - The New York Times
"Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people."

[Dead link, now here: http://www.nytimes.com/video/2011/02/28/world/americas/100000000672239/venezuela-skyscraper.html ]
squatters  squatting  venezuela  caracas  skyscrapers  favelas  diy  housing  homes  torredavid 
march 2011 by robertogreco
Urban Think Tank | icon 048 | June 2007 | ICON MAGAZINE ONLINE
"Our ambitions are huge. We think there should be Urban Think Tanks all over the world – we want to be a non-university university, reach out to schools of architecture and give them our office space. We want them to send students to us so we can show them the realities of the informal city – we want to link the first and third worlds. We also want to see massive investment, in the way that governments invested in computers for informal cities, and we want to see these changes in our lifetime. Everybody says we have ten years to reverse climate change – we think the same way about these cities of sprawl.”"
urbanthinktank  design  architecture  informal  urban  urbanism  activism  cities  non-universities  informalcity  sprawl  change  venezuela  caracas  latinamerica 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Urban Think Tank :: RESEARCH
"UTT Films seek to create new discursive spaces in order to raise questions about how cities are shaped and for whom. Seeking new means to express critical public opinion, our urban films fall into the genealogy of the ‘theory film,’ a largely ignored
cities  films  urbanism  policy  urban  via:grahamje  urbanthinktank  venezuela  architecture  latinamerica  caracas  slums 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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