Latin American Roundtable – Urbanization +

intro2

Contact: c.lueder@kingston.ac.uk

 

Download full details of collaborators, presentations and website links

Participants:

Carlos Alberto Arriaga Jimenez, ‘Urbotic’―a new tool for urban mobility management and disaster mitigation applied to Villahermosa, Tabasco, District V, Mexico

The development of cities and their current conditions are products of an accelerating metropolization process. The urbanization that has occurred over the second half of the twentieth century is changing the scale and population of the cities in unprecedented ways, challenging the ways in which we inhabit cities. In particular mobility becomes an acute concern; as housing production grows and cities expand, while socio-economic activities remain concentrated inside the city, forcing citizens to become commuters, thereby consume their resources, time and effort. The origins of Villahermosa date back to more than 100 years ago. At this time Villahermosa’s location followed certain rationales, such as the use of natural resources, or watersheds as a means of communication and exchange of materials with other communities Climate change and weather phenomena such as floods have turned these rationales into vulnerabilities.
In this situation, mobility becomes crucial to the recovery of the city. We need to find or develop systems that are able to limit effects, or, better even, open up new alternatives. The application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to planning, design and urban development provides a tool for the recovery of urban spaces. The use of information technologies leverages existing resources of a city such as infrastructure and urban equipment. The set of services and facilities that are generated with Urbótics systems enhance urban living; by providing mobility, welfare, security, and communications, they contribute to an efficient, sustainable and liveable city.

Dr. Helena Riviera
‘Medellín Urban Innovation’―Edinburgh College of Art research project, Colombia

 

medelin

After decades of internal conflict, Colombia is experiencing a period of rapid economic growth and urbanisation. It remains, however, one of the most socially unequal countries in Latin America. Medellin has pioneered innovative forms of city planning and management and was acclaimed the most innovative city in the world. Hosting the World Urban Forum in 2014 allowed it to showcase its approach, key elements of which have been: creation of innovative transport infrastructure linking poorer peripheral districts to the city centre; culture-led regeneration; strong support of local development from the local business sector; and a successful municipally-owned utilities company.
However, an initial study of the implementation of this planning approach undertaken by Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities with Universidad Santo Tomas shows that: the city is spreading outwards without services and employment being provided; new low-income developments are replicating high-rise models which failed worldwide; there is limited intervention in the existing informal areas, many being in highly vulnerable locations where the level of risk is likely to increase with climate change; development has little regard for topography and ecological considerations; investment in accessible and good quality public space is restricted to some areas; the quality of the public realm does not always support health and wellbeing of the ageing population.
This institutional links collaboration will identify means to make Medellin a more socially equitable and environmentally sustainable city, through two interlinked components:

  1. A research programme focusing on developing expertise in: (a) local heritage and culture; (b) public realm, green infrastructure and wellbeing; (c) housing; and (d) mobility and socio-economic integration. 
  2. A knowledge exchange and training programme open to Colombian practitioners, policy makers and students based on the themes above.

Armando Caroca
‘The Idle Works’―Flood Mitigation Infrastructure for Public Use in Copiapó, Chile

Caroca Copiapo

Between 23 and 25 March 2015, the city of Copiapó – located in northern Chile and characterized by a semi-arid climate, with almost no annual rainfall – suffered the biggest flood of the last eighty years, which caused serious damage to urban areas and showed the vulnerability of the city when dealing with such phenomena. It also revealed that the current urban design does not sufficiently consider the geographic and climate features of the territory in which it is settled.
To reconstruct this city and other areas affected by the floods in northern Chile, the government will invest US$1,500 million in the years to come. A significant part of it will be used in the construction of hydraulic engineering works (retention basins, dams, retaining walls, energy dissipaters, slope modifications, cutwaters, rainwater sewers, etc.), in order to mitigate future natural disasters.
These mitigation works may represent the biggest public investment to date in a relatively small town like Copiapó. However, given the scarce occurrence of significant rainfall, these works will remain idle 99% of the time, with the consequent risk of being degraded or used in a way that compromises its functionality.
This research aims to open up the debate about the potential of these infrastructures if we think them as urban facilities, which might improve the life quality of city inhabitants, while increasing the social return on investment. Furthermore, these works could guide or provide a threshold for the city growth, while allowing for a safe and controlled development.
Thus, this research will propose ways to widen the scope from which architecture addresses such phenomena, by promoting a synthesis of engineering, landscaping and architectural design. This synthesis is essential for a place like northern Chile, which defines itself on the basis of its relationship with water, either by excess or deficit.

Rodrigo García González
‘Design through Magic’―Personal Experiences with Production, Transformation and Vanishing Acts

González marzo08-085

In 2008 thanks to a Maghalaes scholarship Rodrigo spent one year at the University Catolica de Santiago de Chile developing projects in collaboration with the NGO Un Techo Para Chile. There, Rodrigo realised that Architects and Designers have the ability to change lives by transforming one space into another, or raw materials into a useful product; making problems disappear or producing something valuable from apparently nothing.
A hypothesis has informed his work since: Magicians, Architects & Designers have the power to make possible the impossible. Convert fiction into reality. The three disciplines, Magic, Architecture and Design, share objectives, tools and effects. The architectural and design projects that Rodrigo has since developed are associated with Magic effects.
Production: Something comes into view without any apparent clue as to the source. ZipZip is a deployable system that allows tall buildings to be unfolded. Its advantages are the speed of assembly and dismantlement, and of allowing the same building to be reused in different contexts. In already consolidated urban centres faced with a one-time demand, such as the Rio Olympic Games, ZipZip enables temporary increase of density. Furthermore, renting or exchanging infrastructures will “mobilize” the current real estate market.
Transformation: The magician transforms something from one state into another—a lady turns into a tiger. Devebere, an open architectural experiment and participatory constructive system, uses as its only materials plastic bottles and air… or rather, the lack thereof. The end result is a three dimensional, irregular, malleable shape. The system can be adapted to different scales and contexts.
Vanish: The magician makes something disappear, coin or Elephant. The challenge here is to make disappear the water plastic bottles that nowadays invade our daily lives. Ooho! is a project where water bottles can be eaten after consumption. Ooho! encircles water in an edible membrane of algae. The final package is simple, cheap, resistant, hygienic, and biodegradable.

Diego Ferrari,  ‘Urban Habitat II’―BERLIN 2013

urban

OKK gallery presents new photography and video documenting the work and music of Kingz of Kiez, a group of up-and-coming young rappers in Berlin. The iconographic and the everyday collide in the work of London-based fine art photographer Diego Ferrari. For this project Ferrari worked closely with these young people, taking them to iconic public places in Berlin. Together they develop a new expression, which challenges the usual clichés of rapper imagery and, by extension, migration, urban youth and disaffection. Through a playful and questioning approach, these images and video work compel the audience to rethink concepts of the inclusive multicultural city.In partnership with: Puk a Malta – Kingz of Kiez, OKK Gallery Raum 29 and Kiez Kultur Netz – Berlin 2013

Dr. Patricia Lara-Betancourt,  ‘European or National? Latin American Domestic Interiors and the Quest for Modernity, 1870-1930’

Lara-Betancourt Enrique Meiggs Residence Santiago Chile c1860

Latin America went through a crucial and transformative period in its history from the 1870s to 1930 when an economic boom gripped the region unleashing radical urban and housing transformations modelled on European cities and culture. In the last three decades of the nineteenth century the region’s export economy finally took off securing also longed-for political stability allowing the new nations to embark on a much needed modernisation process including urban and population growth, the expansion of its bourgeois and middle class reflected in domestic architecture, and novel social behaviour and consumption practices. At the turn of the century the Latin American Belle Époque rivalled the ones in Europe in terms of wealth, domestic architecture and fashionable furniture and furnishings. Surprisingly, while urban transformations have been widely researched and documented, the significant changes of the related Latin America’s domestic material culture in this period has been little studied.
This paper will discuss the changes in domestic architecture and interiors that the upper-class and expanding middle-class implemented not only as a result of new wealth but also in response to a deep-seated desire to engage with modernity and to become and be seen as civilized and modern. With a comparative perspective the article will show how the traditional colonial architectural language was abandoned in new residences while embracing modern trends in domestic architecture being developed in Europe, mainly in France, Britain and Italy. While bearing in mind significant differences between countries, an important aim will be to highlight what was distinctively Latin American in the way the region experienced and tried to appropriate Modernity within a context of globalized trade and industrial development, and to explain the significance of such changes to the emergence and consolidation of class and national identities in a time of transition.

Christoph Lueder, Alexandru Malaescu, Iulia Fratila
‘Atlas of Negotiated Typologies’―Collaborative Field Research at Cerro de la Cruz, Valparaiso, Chile

Lueder Malaescu Fratila Cerro de la Cruz matrix

In a series of collaborations with resident academic and community partners we have documented four communities, each exemplary for a particular model and context of development, located in Jordan, Thailand, India and Chile. Our most recent episode of field research has been undertaken on Cerro de la Cruz, a neighbourhood in the hills overlooking Valparaiso, which forms a complex, three-dimensional assemblage of homes whose positions and forms derive from continual negotiations between neighbours, respond to topography, and consider exposure to sunlight and views.
Drawing on interviews, urban and building surveys gathered from these case studies, we examine how processes that draw on feedback from the actions and experience of construction and inhabitation register in urban and built form, as opposed to forms stipulated by supervisory regulation and formal composition. We will discuss two themes and scales, exemplifying the responsive and the memetic dimensions of the kinetic city: First, iterative negotiation between urban structure and topography, and the aspects in which this negotiation contrasts against established paradigms of urban design and regulatory protocols. Second, the recuperation, adaption and fragmentation of inherited or remembered spatial typologies, read through a distinction between Colin Rowe’s paradigm of “ideal types,” as opposed to evolutionary metaphors and genetic codes.

Carlos Alberto Arriaga Jimenez
Urbotic―a new tool for urban mobility management and disaster mitigation applied to Villahermosa, Tabasco, District V, Mexico

mexico

The development of cities and their current conditions are products of an accelerating metropolization process. The urbanization that has occurred over the second half of the twentieth century is changing the scale and population of the cities in unprecedented ways, challenging the ways in which we inhabit cities. In particular mobility becomes an acute concern; as housing production grows and cities expand, while socio-economic activities remain concentrated inside the city, forcing citizens to become commuters, thereby consume their resources, time and effort. The origins of Villahermosa date back to more than 100 years ago. At this time Villahermosa’s location followed certain rationales, such as the use of natural resources, or watersheds as a means of communication and exchange of materials with other communities Climate change and weather phenomena such as floods have turned these rationales into vulnerabilities.
In this situation, mobility becomes crucial to the recovery of the city. We need to find or develop systems that are able to limit effects, or, better even, open up new alternatives. The application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to planning, design and urban development provides a tool for the recovery of urban spaces. The use of information technologies leverages existing resources of a city such as infrastructure and urban equipment. The set of services and facilities that are generated with Urbótics systems enhance urban living; by providing mobility, welfare, security, and communications, they contribute to an efficient, sustainable and liveable city.

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