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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.
An award-winning curator and editor of Icon magazine chronicles his travels through Latin America in search of urban design activists, citing the examples of visionaries who are revolutionizing social housing, public architecture and community development.
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, the terms formal and informal refer not only to the physical aspect of cities but also to their entire socio-political fabric. Informal cities and settlements exceed the structures of order, control and homogeneity that one expects to find in a formal city; therefore the contributors to this volume - from such disciplines as architecture, urban planning, anthropology, urban design, cultural and urban studies and sociology - focus on alternative methods of analysis in order to study the phenomenon of urban informality. This book provides a thorough 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.
America'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 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 issues and 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.
Janice Perlman wrote the first in-depth account of life in the favelas, a book hailed as one of the most important works in global urban studies in the last 30 years. Now, in Favela, Perlman carries that story forward to the present. Re-interviewing many longtime favela residents whom she had first met in 1969--as well as their children and grandchildren--Perlman offers the only long-term perspective available on the favelados as they struggle for a better life. Perlman discovers that while educational levels have risen, democracy has replaced dictatorship, and material conditions have improved, many residents feel more marginalized than ever. The greatest change is the explosion of drug and arms trade and the high incidence of fatal violence that has resulted. Yet the greatest challenge of all is job creation--decent work for decent pay. If unemployment and under-paid employment are not addressed, she argues, all other efforts will fail to resolve the fundamental issues. Foreign Affairs praises Perlman for writing "with compassion, artistry, and intelligence, using stirring personal stories to illustrate larger points substantiated with statistical analysis."

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