Informal City: Design as Political Engagement – Part 4 – Alfredo Brillembourg

Lecture date: 2012-02-09

With Alfredo Brillembourg, Jose Castillo, Felipe Hernández, Jorge Jauregui, Franklin Lee and Anne Save de Beaurecueil

The AA has been very central to the evolution of ideas about the informal city and the formulation of strategies to deal with it. The AA Research Cluster on Urbanism and the Informal City has sought to give continuity to that work while focusing more specifically on architecture and urbanism as tools of political engagement in the transformation of the informal city and the social conditions associated with it. This year the Research Cluster hosted a series of events that have investigated the role of design as a generative tool in reconceptualising the challenges and potential of informality.

The symposium continues this exploration bringing together internationally acclaimed practitioners working directly with conditions of informality in this day of discussion and debate structured around two key themes: design as research and design as strategy. The focus of the symposium is the relevance and importance of design and spatial strategies in scaling-up to the challenges of the informal city and its articulation with the politics of creating socially inclusive cities.

Alfredo Brillembourg is the founding director of Urban Think Tank (U-TT), an architectural practice involved in high-profile projects which have resulted in the meaningful transformation in deprived areas in Latin American cities. Since 2007 Brillembourg has been a guest professor at the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University, where he co-founded the Sustainable Living UrbanModel Laboratory (S.L.U.M. Lab) with Hubert Klumpner. Together with Hubert Klumpner, Brillembourg holds the chair for Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Institute of Technology (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, ETH) in Zurich.

Jose Castillo is the co-founder and principal of arquitectura 911sc, an architecture, urban design and planning practice based in Mexico City. The work of the practice has been showcased at the 2007 Rotterdam Biennale, Visionary Power and as part of the Mexican pavillion of the XI Venice Architecture Biennale in September 2008.

Castillo’s built work and writings on issues related to the informal have been published widely. He has lectured at the universities of Harvard, Tulane, Princeton and Berkeley; at the New Museum in NYC at Casa Encendida in Madrid and at the Deustche Architectur Zentrum in Berlin, among others.

Felipe Hernández is an architect and lecturer in architectural Design, History and Theory (Cambridge). He has worked extensively on Latin America and other areas in the developing world, including Africa, the Caribbean and South East Asia. Author of many books including Rethinking the Informal City (Berghahn Books, 2010)

Jorge Jauregui is an award-winning architect-urban Designer based in Brazil. He has over 20 years’ experience in working on projects in urban peripheries and informal areas, with a focus on social inclusion. His work in the urbanisation and upgrading of more than 20 favelas in Rio de Janeiro, as part of the Favela Bairro programme, has been recognized globally. He has published extensively and has participated in numerous conferences and international exhibitions, including the the 8th Venice Biennale and Documenta, 2007. He has received numerous awards, including the Verônica Rudge Green Prize in Urban Design, Harvard University, Graduate School of Design, 2000.

Franklin Lee and Anne Save de Beaurecueil are directors of the Brazilian architecture office SUBdV, using a mixture of high and low design technologies to generate socially and environmentally responsive geometries for architecture and urban design projects. They were AA Diploma Unit 2 Masters from 2005 to 2010 and taught at the Pratt Institute and Columbia University in New York, from where both received Master’s degrees. They are currently coordinating the AA Brazil Visiting Schools and are working on architecture projects for various grassroots micro-agencies, ranging from self-organized favela residents’ associations, to carnival samba schools in Rio de Janeiro, to a former boxer champion’s informal sports academy under the viaducts in São Paulo. These projects are realised through a negotiation between formal and informal entities, as well as between public and private agencies, to produce socially empowering interventions, combining computation and digital fabrication with local techniques, materials and economies.



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