Postcolonial Urbanism. Architectural Experimentations and Urban Researches and from the Tropics
Postcoloniality is here intended both as an image and a concept. It is a lens through which to observe forms and practices of the contemporary Latin American city, conceptualizing it and constructing it as a project. It refers to a specific socio-spatial condition characterized by precise urbanities, economies, social relationships, by conflictually related rural/wilderness/urban realms.
Research on environmental conflicts and urbanization problems in tropical contexts are presented such as Amazonía Humana by Santiago del Hierro, A South America Project (SAP), and News from the Amazon Frontier: Contemporary Design in a Contested Basin, by Ana María Durán Calisto (Estudio A0). News from the front carries with it an association with journalism and reporting from the most complex, even violent, extremes of what occurs in the world, such as the case of extraction and urban development in critical ecologies like the Amazonian. Here complex forces are contesting its grounds: extraction industries driven by the demand for raw materials across the Pacific and supported by national governments (often State Corporations) are encountering fierce opposition from indigenous communities and ecological movements, agro-industry and ranching are having to come to terms with those who oppose deforestation, all the while as concerns over global warming increase. In this context, it is not surprising to find architects who have been addressing the challenges posed by intervention in a tropical ecology. Because the pressure upon the Amazon and other tropical rain forests is bound to continue in an urbanized era, it becomes critical to share the work of those who are responding critically and responsibly to the conditions they encounter. Such is the objective of this compilation: to showcase good practices being set forward by professionals such as Rolando Aparicio (Bolivia), Katy Barkan (USA), Úrsula Biemann (Brazil), Alejandro Cohen (Argentina), Felipe Correa (Ecuador/USA), Santiago del Hierro (Ecuador), María Teresa Ponce (Ecuador), Paulo Tavares (Brazil/Ecuador), Laurent Troost (Brazil/Belgium), Roger Sherman (USA), estudiantes de la UNC (Argentina), and others.
Reinterpetations of Amazonian ancestral spatial models and languages are presented in the Ikiam University project by del Hierro UA, Estudio A0 y L+A Arquitectos. Architectural and social design experimentations or low-technology tryouts can be seen in the Casa en Construcción, Taller de Construcción and Ultima Esperanza project by Al Borde (Ecuador). Finally, experimentations on densification processes in Ecuadorian middle cities are presented in the research entitled Densificación de la ciudad by Antonio di Campli (Italia/Ecuador), María de Los Ángeles Cuenca Rosillo, Patricio Cuadrado Torres, and Fernanda Luzuriaga Torres (Ecuador).
These researches highlight the contemporary relevance of the postcolonial city intended as an urban, ecological, and social design framework connecting specific questions arising in different urban or environmental contexts to larger international reflections and processes. The aim and key objective, then, is to start a reflection about new design and research experiences and their possible translation into ordinary design practice in contemporary Latin American city. The hypothesis is that these projects and researches will demonstrate, obviously in a partial way, some relevant elements in the construction of this postcolonial discourse providing test cases for the elaboration of original urban theories and design strategies. Issues at its center are: social construction of space, environmental conflicts, right to the city, and spatial and social justice.