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Latin Lab Courses

Formalism and Informality in Latin American Architecture

Fall 2012. Seminar

When and why did informality become an urban and architectural matter in Latin America? Contemporary architectural projects developed within precarious settlements and overcrowded areas in the continent are often interpreted as epitomes of the Modernist Project’s aim to House the Masses. This seminar explores notions related to the problems of the habitat (such as “inadequate housing”, “sub-standard living,” or “slums”) and provides a political and historical background that intersects with dominant narratives of Latin America’s institutional incapacity to solve its “housing problem.”

The seminar also characterizes mainstream architectural answers to informality provided by international media, and it questions the independence of such disciplines vis-à-vis the role of real estate, politics, and migration patterns in the physical configuration of cities.

POST-EARTHQUAKE REDEVELOPMENT IN TALCA, CHILE: CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Fall 2012

Students from the urban planning, architecture, urban design, preservation, and real estate programs worked on redevelopment proposals after the devastating 2010 earthquake, focusing on the city of Talca. The studio traveled to Chile for 10 days, meeting public officials, developers, non- profit organizations, those displaced by the earthquake, and other stakeholders. Their site visit was guided by research on value capture and other land use strategies. 

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Click to download the studio poster

Click to download the final document

Rio de Janeiro Planning Studio: Urban Revitalization of Porto Maravilha

Spring 2012

Students analyzed the challenges and opportunities that Rio de Janeiro’s "Porto Maravilha Revitalization Plan" presents for the development of a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood with multi-modal transit connections within and to the rest of the Rio fabric. " The plan intends to revitalize its five million square meters by improving the urbanization pattern and quality of life of the region; by stimulating its social and economic development through capital-investment planning on recently held and expected mega-events; and by revitalizing the historical and environmental heritage of the port area.
 
Working with the municipality of Rio, the Pereira Passos Municipal Institute of Urbanism, and the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro's (UFRJ) School of Architecture and Urbanism, students evaluated the plan, and proposed alternatives for the future of the area, recommendeding strategies for social inclusion—through housing, employment, and improvement in living conditions, neighborhood connectivity, and culture.

Rio de Janeiro Planning Studio: Regional Planning in Leste Fluminense

Spring 2011

Students examined the challenges of regional planning for the inter-municipal Consortium of Leste
Fluminense (CONLESTE) in response to Petrobras’ Rio de Janeiro Petrochemical Complex (Comperj), a mega-development project whose physical size and projected economic and social impacts were unprecedented in the region and in Latin America as a whole.
 
The studio course included collaboration with the multiple stakeholders active in the project, including national, state and municipal government actors, Petrobras and other members of the private sector as well as international organizations and academic institutions. The studio’s engagement in the project joined the work of these actors, most of whom had been involved since the announcement of Comperj in 2006.

Transnational Planning: Spaces and Institutions

Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011

Planning in our interrelated world often transcends the boundaries of particular localities within nation states. Transnational planning, thus, is planning that occurs through societal relations spanning pluri-locally between and above the traditional container spaces of national societies without a clear 'headquarters' or 'motherland.' This course explores the production and transformation of new and conventional types of spaces, institutions, and planning engagements in a transnational arena. Through contemporary case studies, we will explore different agents that are engaged in transnational planning, including international organizations (such as the World Bank, the United Nations, USAID, transnational corporations, etc.), national and local public and private agencies, transnational NGOs, transnational community organizations (such as Hometown Associations, the World Social Forum, etc.). We aim to understand the different subfields of transnational planning they engage in (related, for instance, to border planning, environmental planning, labor management, infrastructure building, institution building, gender equity, housing, transportation, health, cross-sectoral governance, participation, etc.) and perform SWOT analysis to assess their institutional and socio-spatial effectiveness. We also pay attention to the way in which subjected populations resist, adapt, or coproduce the planning deployed upon their communities and, in the process, transnational subjects are (re)shaped.

The Politics of International Placemaking: Spatializing Urban Cultures

Fall 2008, Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Spring 2012

The creation and recreation of urban places is an essential component of planning practice across the world. Planners are agents that mediate global political and economic pressures, on the one hand, and local socio-cultural and institutional conditions, on the other. Within these multifaceted contexts and interacting with communities, they facilitate an ongoing process of glocal placemaking. This course explores the practices and politics of placemaking and how they impact and are impacted by the (re)production and (de/re)territorialization of cultural practices, institutional arrangements, and spatial traits/trends in multiple and varied localities across the globe at the turn of the 21st century. The students are expected to critically analyze and compare the nuanced differences across planning contexts, assess the level of effectiveness of planning approaches used in addressing such conditions and their resulting place-based effects, and envision better planning practices to make progress in the attainment of more just cities.