In the context of a post 9-11 political equator that divides the world and the city between enclaves of mega wealth and sectors of poverty, urbanities of labour and surveillance, the formal and informal, our institutions of architecture have lost their socio-political relevance. Instead, the architecture avant-garde has become fully complicit with an international, neo-liberal project of privatisation and homogenisation, by camouflaging gentrification with a massive hyper aesthetic and formalist project.
New experimental practices of intervention in the collective territory will emerge only from zones of conflict. The radicalisation of the local in order to generate new readings of the global is transforming the neighborhood – not the city – into the urban laboratory of the 21st century.
The micro heterotopias emerging within small communities across the world, provoked by social emergency, are producing non-conforming spatial and economic contingencies that will incrementally pixelate the large with the small. These economic and political informalities generate a different idea of density and land use, a counter form of urban and economic development that thrives on social organisation, collaboration and exchange.
Contemporary art and architecture’s task is not only to reveal ignored socio-political territorial histories and inequalities within this polarised world, but also to generate new forms of sociability and activism.
Originally published in ICON magazine
Issue 404 | 2007