April 2012

Early in March, three of us attended a talk by Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban Think Tank. Coming from a poor South American country and now heading up a Swiss institution,  Alfredo lives by the Google maxim – “get someone somewhere else to pay for it”. Someone somewhere else is a rich country in the northern hemisphere, and he works in poor communities in the developing south. Now, you must have some serious audacity to pull off this Robin Hood stuff. He managed to persuade an Austrian cable car manufacturer to fund a “cable metro” project in Curitiba, convincing them that the cableway has a great public transport future in South America. Love it! Maybe they are woried about the ski resort prospects in the future? But imaging trying to sell a scheme like this to the local authorities. He didn’t even try. He just put the proposal to the local community (anonymously), pointing out that building a road through their settlement would obliterate a third of their informal homes, and left it up to them to convince the municipality that the scheme should fly. Some sound bites from Alfredo : “informality = wriggle room” “architecture should not be limited to the object” “ethics vs aesthetics” and “urbanism is frozen politics”.

I didn’t put a link to Urban Think Tank on the facebook page, but I’ll do it now. Also there this month, there’s a photo of a parking bay landscape, a link to an article on a beach artist, a CAD complaint, a pedestrian bridge in Copenhagen and a floating cimema.

’til next time.

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