Architectonic · Human-ities · Projects · Public Space · Social/Politics

The Informal City Dialogues


The Informal City Dialogues is a year-long project supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and conducted by Forum for the Future. It homes in on six cities: Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila and Nairobi. In each of these cities, it aims to foster a conversation about the informal urban realm, and how it can be cultivated and harnessed for the benefit of all.

These informal realms, from single-chair barbershops to nine-passenger vans to sprawling settlements, are propelling the explosive growth of the urban Global South. They are the neighborhoods, economies and systems that exist beyond the reach of government: the slums, black-market industries and undocumented businesses that fuel these cities’ growth. They’re split off from the formal city, and often neglected or harassed by local authorities.

And yet the informal aspects of these places are also intricately intertwined with the formal. Indeed, many residents have one foot in both worlds: the slum dweller who commutes to her job at a major hospital, the unlicensed microbus driver who lives in a condominium highrise.

Text and Images via The Informal City Dialogues

Architectonic · Human-ities · Performativity · Projects · Public Space · Social/Politics

Understanding the Child-Scale in the City

“The acquisition and use of environmental knowledge are key aspects of a child’s socialization and experiential data of this is important; we can collect and interpret it with a measured confidence because we are human ourselves.”

What is the child-scale? How can we begin to understand it? How can this experience inform building and design ideas and practice?

Play is intensely important. Start developing an idea of (non)designing for playing. The walk that this extract depicts brought forth ideas of grain/granularity of street surfaces (materials), balance and tracing (paths, curbs), humble events, routine/ritual, liquid (refreshment, ballistics, power)… for a start.

Text and Images from a-small-lab, a project by Chris Berthelsen. Based in Tokyo. Continue to project HERE

Architectonic · Blog-Sites · Earthly/Geo/Astro · Public Space

The Center for Design and Geopolitics

D:GP begins with the supposition that the heavy carbon economies inherited from industrialization have reached an unsolvable impasse, and must at their core must be redesigned, reformed and replaced. Furthermore, as it is now amplified by planetary-scale computation, industrial modernity is now so radicalized that its ubiquity is matched only by its imminent dissolution. But other conditions are possible. They have to be. Computation does not (necessarily) replace what comes before it, but under the right circumstances it can and does, and under more rarified conditions still, it should. Deep systemic crises invite three interrelated and apparently opposing responses: modernism, inertia and fundamentalism: fight, hide, and flight, accordingly. Toward this D:GP recognizes the emergence of another, alternative modernity. Where industrialization provided heaviness, expansion, production, and consumption, our successor modernity is one of lightness, contraction, subtraction and restoration. It is an interfacial modernity not of identity and maximalization, but of externality and transference. Where industrialization was a modernity for tabula rasa, today a subtractive modernity curates a world that is infinitely full. Its radicality is not drawn from the historical or geographic momentum of a “new world,” but rooted in the precarity of globalizations that are as irresolvable as they are interconnected.

The Center for Design and Geopolitics is a think-tank based at Calit2 and the University of California, San Diego devoted to using Art and Design to develop new models for how planetary-scale computation transforms political, urban and ecological systems. D:GP was founded in 2010 by Visual Arts professor, Benjamin H. Bratton.

Text via D:GP