Simply Built - a Chance for Our Urban Planet

»This is not a mountain full of houses, rather a house that is as big as a mountain«. With this distinction Hubert Klumpner and Alredo Brillembourg, professors for urban development at ETH Zurich, emphasize the strong character of the slum in San Augustín, in Caracas, that they see as an urban laboratory for future urban planning. What is often neglected in traditional urban planning off the drawing board is very much the focus of the work of their Urban-Think Tank: the social community of the residents; the softening of social tension; and the security of basic needs that form part of a cultural life. Placing their faith in the strength of informal structures, the pair makes a plea against constructing new cities on green spaces. They also promote the idea of implanting public buildings and infrastructure directly into the slums of the world’s metropolises, which will soon be home to the majority of the world’s population. The aim is efficient urban planning with simple, cost-effective »tools« that form part of their »urban tool box«, which contains prototype modules for public constructions: vertically stacked sports centres; music schools for children; or a cablecar that connects the steep, heavily urbanised hills with the subway network without having to destroy living space to make way for new streets. Here, the role of the architect is more than just a designer of ready-made solutions; it is that of agitator and mediator – someone who can influence the legislative process and financing, very much along the lines of »small scale, big change.«
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