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What makes the city of the future? How do you heal a divided city? In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions. From Brazil to Venezuela, and from Mexico to Argentina, McGuirk discovers the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving. Ever since the mid twentieth century, when the dream of modernist utopia went to Latin America to die, the continent has been a testing ground for exciting new conceptions of the city. An architect in Chile has designed a form of social housing where only half of the house is built, allowing the owners to adapt the rest; Medellín, formerly the world’s murder capital, has been transformed with innovative public architecture; squatters in Caracas have taken over the forty-five-story Torre David skyscraper; and Rio is on a mission to incorporate its favelas into the rest of the city. Here, in the most urbanised continent on the planet, extreme cities have bred extreme conditions, from vast housing estates to sprawling slums. But after decades of social and political failure, a new generation has revitalised architecture and urban design in order to address persistent poverty and inequality. Together, these activists, pragmatists and social idealists are performing bold experiments that the rest of the world may learn from. Radical Cities is a colorful journey through Latin America—a crucible of architectural and urban innovation. From the Hardcover edition.
The Motorcycle Diaries for architects: how slums designers, maverick mayors and squatters are changing the future of Latin America
Latin American cities have always been characterized by a strong tension between what is vaguely described as their formal and informal dimensions. However, despite intrinsic semantic implications, the terms formal and informal do not refer only to the physical aspect of cities but also to their entire socio-political fabric. Given the fact that informal cities and settlements exceed the structures of order, control and homogeneity expected to be found in the formal city, the wide-ranging essays in this volume from disciplinary areas such as anthropology, architecture, history, cultural and urban studies, and sociology are concerned with the need to produce alternative methods of analysis in order to study the phenomenon of urban informality. This book provides a thoroughgoing review of the work that is currently being carried out by scholars, practitioners and governmental institutions, in and outside Latin America, on the question of informal cities.
The nation’s Latina/o population has now reached over 50 million, or 15% of the estimated total U.S. population of 300 million, and a growing portion of the world’s population now lives and works in cities that are increasingly diverse. Latino Urbanism provides the first national perspective on Latina/o urban policy, addressing a wide range of planning policy issues that impact both Latinas/os in the US, as well as the nation as a whole, tracing how cities develop, function, and are affected by socio-economic change. The contributors are a diverse group of Latina/o scholars attempting to link their own unique theoretical interpretations and approaches to political and policy interventions in the spaces and cultures of everyday life. The three sections of the book address the politics of planning and its historic relationship with Latinas/os, the relationship between the Latina/o community and conventional urban planning issue sand challenges, and the future of urban policy and Latina/o barrios. Moving beyond a traditional analysis of Latinas/os in the Southwest, the volume expands the understanding of the important relationships between urbanization and Latinas/os including Mexican Americans of several generations within the context of the restructuring of cities, in view of the cultural and political transformation currently encompassing the nation.
Tower and Slab looks at the contradictory history of the modernist mass housing block - home to millions of city dwellers around the world. Few urban forms have roused as much controversy. While in the United States decades-long criticism caused the demolition of most mass housing projects for the poor, in the booming metropolises of Shanghai and Mumbai remarkably similar developments are being built for the wealthy middle class. While on the surface the modernist apartment block appears universal, it is in fact diverse in its significance and connotations as its many different cultural contexts. Florian Urban studies the history of mass housing in seven narratives: Chicago, Paris, Berlin, Brasilia, Mumbai, Moscow, and Shanghai. Investigating the complex interactions between city planning and social history, Tower and Slab shows how the modernist vision to house the masses in serial blocks succeeded in certain contexts and failed in others. Success and failure, in this respect, refers not only to the original goals – to solve the housing crisis and provide modern standards for the entire society – but equally to changing significance of the housing blocks within the respective societies and their perception by architects, politicians, and inhabitants. These differences show that design is not to blame for mass housing’s mixed record of success. The comparison of the apparently similar projects suggests that triumph or disaster does not depend on a single variable but rather on a complex formula that includes not only form, but also social composition, location within the city, effective maintenance, and a variety of cultural, social, and political factors.
Torre David is an incomplete skyscraper in the center of the Venezuelan capital Caracas that has been occupied and reconstructed by local residents. Work on the building, named after the financial investor David Brillembourg, who died in 1993, was suspended during the Venezuelan financial crisis of 1994. After the office tower-- the third highest in Venezuela--had stood empty for many years, it was taken over by the local population in 2008. The occupants made the building their own with improvisation and skill--it is a "vertical favela," now containing not just housing but also other everyday facilities such as an improvised doctor's office, shops, and more. Photographer Iwan Baan has documented Torre David and its occupants, creating a portrait that captures the contradictions of the place while at the same time revealing urban structures that have emerged dynamically and without planning. Alfredo Brillembou rg was born in New York in 1961. In 1993 he founded Urban-Think Tank in Caracas, Venezuela. Since May 2010, Brillembourg holds a chair in architecture and urban design at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Zürich. Hubert Klumpne r was born in Salzburg in 1965. In 1998 he joined Alfredo Brillembourg as director of Urban-Think Tank in Caracas. Since 2010, Klumpner holds a chair in architecture and urban design at the Swiss Institute of Technology, Zürich. Iwan Baan , born in Alkmaar, Netherlands, in 1975, is an architecture and documentary photographer. His photographs feature regularly in such journals as Domus, A+U, The New Yorker, The New York Times, and others.
Space, the City and Social Theory offers a clear and critical account of key approaches to cities and urban space within social theory and analysis. It explores the relation of the social and the spatial in the context of critical urban themes: community and anonymity; social difference and spatial divisions; politics and public space; gentrification and urban renewal; gender and sexuality; subjectivity and space; experience and everyday practice in the city. The text adopts an international and interdisciplinary approach, drawing on a range of debates on cities and urban life. It brings together classic perspectives in urban sociology and social theory with the analysis of contemporary urban problems and issues. Rather than viewing the urban simply as a backdrop for more general social processes, the discussion looks at how social and spatial relations shape different versions of the city: as a place of social interaction and of solitude; as a site of difference and segregation; as a space of politics and power; as a landscape of economic and cultural distinction; as a realm of everyday experience and freedom. Similarly, it examines how core social categories - such as class, culture, gender, sexuality and community - are shaped and reproduced in urban contexts. Linking debates in urban studies to wider concerns within social theory and analysis, this accessible text will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students in urban sociology, social and cultural geography, urban and cultural studies.

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