I started off as an architectural major in design school. I love the ability of architecture to really help people. While architecture as a profession didn't work out for me I still love following that world. At a recent Rice Design Alliance talk I heard Alfredo Brillembourg speak about his Think Tank's work in the Caracas, Venezuela.
Alfredo spoke about the slums in Venezuela, how they've been there, building on top of each other, for decades. Obviously this isn't a problem to remove, it's an entire city that has worked out how to build & live with each other. He made the comparison with modern day slums and medieval slums. How the medieval slums in Italy & France are now the sought after places to live. This is when architecture extraordinarily exemplifies community, or even perhaps the lack of architecture. The architecture comes in after the fact in the form of creating transportation, schools and community activity spaces. It's time for the world to acknowledge that millions of people live in these conditions & the possibility that we need to start considering architecture & design differently than in the past.
Urban Think Tank was the leading force behind the new cable system installed in Caracas to get residents from the top of the mountain to the bottom of the mountain. Alfredo discussed the issues facing the design & the residents. So much of what needs to be considered when building in these locations is not disturbing the existing structures, eliminating known flooding areas & creating low to no maintenance spaces/structures. A concept that was discussed with the audience was maintenance and how with the cable system they involved the community that it affects. They were able to provide input & feel involved in the project. The fact that the community was involved created a sense of ownership within the area thus ensuring that the community takes care of the structure. That's exactly what's happened & I feel that's missing from modern day community building. Such a logical basic concept. You can read the exact details of it here. Here's another concept in changing the current slums, in Rio.
These talks get me thinking about how to incorporate these concepts & ideas into my projects. More of a way of thinking/ inspiration rather than an exact replication of the ideas.
What gets you thinking in different directions?