Infrastructures are a fundamental condition for urban life, embedded -nevertheless- in an implicit demarcation of disparity. While its absence or deterioration may be a sign of dysfunctional societies, in other cases, it may be evidence of resilient and ingenious ones: understanding the systems and networks that compose our cultures of construction, is a process equivalently focused on the generation of citizen-based agency and more equitable social structures.
We are therefore interested in the tecno-politics of infrastructure and the poetic capacities it possesses, as a manner of constructing resilience from the bottom-up. Instead of thinking of infrastructures as more-than-human constructions -meddled in cryptic and specialized discourses under the jurisdiction of meritocratic elites- we want to re-imagine them from the urban patterns emerging in the Global South. This entails reconsidering city-building patterns from the pervasive presence of the ‘informal’: a state of exception from normative structures, that opens towards multifaceted spaces of negotiation between state and citizenship, the permanent and the temporary, and even modernity and heritage.
This is why this proposal is particularly relevant to the SBAU 2021, given that it proposes an in-depth investigation of the meanings of infrastructures in their current state -as productive built forms that have a claim over resources and demonstrate developments in contingent democracy- while offering architectural alternatives that can contribute to futures of low environmental impact, with a high return on participatory mechanisms. The content of the proposed exhibition in that manner consists of an essay that thoroughly develops the concepts behind ‘Light Infrastructures’ while simultaneously representing such values by way of an ad-hoc structure, which playfully encourages a compelling engagement with the text.
The essay in that manner, explores a series of principles applicable to the practice of design-research in the built environment of the Global South, through the lens of infrastructural transformation. A game-plan, as it were, to reflect and act upon urban infrastructures as well as contributing to disciplinary agendas in order to reconsider broader fields of intervention. For this, the political and poetic conditions embedded in infrastructures are investigated, framing them as a series of social, political and technological means to be re-appropriated and potentiated, by the agency of active solidarity and social justice. Through this projective investigation, we propose the idea of the ‘light space’ strategy as a way to integrate non-violent methods capable of enabling more sustainable economic and biological ecologies, to be fundamentally integrated in the way we think and act upon our cities.
In itself, this ‘manifesto’ constitutes a practical set of guidelines and demonstrations to “change the world without taking power” within the opportunities that contexts of informality offer.
*IN COLLABORATION WITH JUAN TUSSO*