While political unrest and even riots reverberate through the streets of Brazil’s major cities, in São Paulo the 10th Architecture Biennial was opened on 12 October 2013. Wouter Vanstiphout’s office Crimson Architectural Historians in collaboration with The New Institute will organize the Dutch contribution, titled Track Changes.
Track changes will contain conversations, presentations and encounters about the drastic changes that a society undergoes during periods of economic, political or social crises, as well as the role that architects and urban planners can play in this regard.
An international group of architects, city planners, economists, architectural historians and critics will discuss whether a small-scale, participation-oriented way of working can offer relevant answers to current economic, political and social questions, or that they on the contrary should be designing large scale infrastructure, masterplans and services. Through publicly comparing and discussing concrete projects from five different continents the participants will try to find common ground and in that way try to make design socially significant and politically relevant again.
“In three days of open discussions, we’ll explore what we have in common, but not without first precisely defining our differences,” say the Crimson historians. “Perhaps our most important ambition is to bring architecture and city planning out of the academic ghettos and the black boxes of politics and the market and return them to the centre of public debate.”
The participating professionals will discuss specific projects as they relate to issues raised by Crimson. Three discussions will take place: We the People, on the democratic value of master plans, particularly the new one formulated for São Paulo; What’s Your Crisis?, on how a sudden lack of financial resources, political crises and dramatic social changes are forcing architects to reevaluate their way of working; and Bottom-Up Is Not Enough, on how bottom-up projects can exceed their small scale and become integrated into top-down plans.
Track Changes takes place from November 4-7 at Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP). Amongst the invited guests are Fernando Botton, Elma van Boxel, José Armênio de Brito Cruz, Fernando de Mello Franco, Rupali Gupte & Prassad Shetty, Charles Holland, Luís Pompeo, Damon Rich, Nanne de Ru, and Carlos Teixeira.