MANILA, PHILIPPINES Manila Improstructure

Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner2019-09-07

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism

Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism
Seoul, South Korea

Like many dynamic megacities of the Global South, Manila is struggling to provide adequate infrastructure and public services to its constituents. In this environment, many infrastructural issues are collaboratively resolved through personal interventions and collaborations involving council members, residents, and companies. The concept of improstructure describes infrastructure governance as an improvisational process of “call and response” among a diverse set of actors. We apply this perspective to ongoing modernization efforts by the city of Manila and its utility companies. Focusing on social practices in Manila’s streetlight and electricity grid, the project investigates how actors shape the infrastructural system through an improvisational process.
Improstructure encompasses subversive practices of appropriation, creative approaches to repair and maintenance, and ad-hoc models of co-production. Defined as the coincidence of planning and doing with the resources available at the moment, improvisation emerges in response to an urgent need or an unforeseen opportunity. From an improvisational perspective, infrastructure becomes a material medium of communication.
Beyond the management of Manila’s streetlight infrastructure, improvisational governance can be found in every city of the world. The improstructure perspective becomes especially relevant in the context of smart city initiatives in the Global South: to move beyond generic solutions prescribed by IT companies, towards a nimbler approach that takes the local cultural, social, and environmental context into account.


  • Title: MANILA, PHILIPPINES Manila Improstructure
  • Creator: Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner
  • Date Created: 2019-09-07
  • Location: Donuimun Museum Village
  • Publisher: Seoul Biennale Division
  • 사진 촬영 : Chin Hyo Sook

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