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EDGE CITY This Final Project is presented to The Faculty of the School of Architecture by Carlos E. Castillo In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Architecture Southern Polytechnic State University, Marietta, Georgia Spring Semester 2014


Department of Architecture School of Architecture and Construction Management Southern Polytechnic State University

Student's Full Name:Carlos E. Castillo Thesis Project Title: Edge City Thesis Summary: The thesis situates itself in the residual spaces left behind after decades of rapid urbanization in the city of Bucaramanga, region of Santander, Colombia. A combination of severe slopes and torrential rains poses a major concern to cities and towns throughout northern South America. Through diagramming by particle mapping, potential points of emergence are identified resulting in a design process that gently and gradually reorganizes neglected landscapes into dynamic ecological and urban systems. The project aims is to conceptualize an infrastructural methodology that is both low cost and sensitive to the unleveled terrain. Student Signature ________________________________Date___________ Approved by: Internal Advisor 1 ________________________________Date___________ (Primary Advisor) Internal Advisor 2 ________________________________Date___________ Professor External Advisor Include only if applicable. May be included as a credit byline in lieu of a signature line. Thesis Coordinator 1 ________________________________Date___________ Professor Michael Carroll Thesis Coordinator 2 ________________________________Date___________ Professor Robert Tango

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Dedicated to:

To my friend and mentor, my brother Jorge Luis Castillo Simanca for his unconditional love and support during this long American journey. Acknowledgement: I would like to thank the Southern Polytechnic State University faculty for sharing their knowledge with me.


Table of Contents Section I: Theorem

Chapter 1.0

Design Theorem

1.1. Design Hypothesis .................................................................................................................................................................................. 1.2. Relevance................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1.3. Precedent Analysis ...............................................................................................................................................................................

Chapter 2.0

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Design Analysis

2.1. Site Context ............................................................................................................................................................................................ 2.2. Site Analysis .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies, Connections, Constraints and Juxtapositions.................................................................................... Chapter 3.0 Design Synthesis

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3.1. Preliminary Documentation.................................................................................................................................................................. 3.2 Final Documentation...............................................................................................................................................................................

Chapter 4.0 Critical Response to Design Theorem

4.1 Reflections by Author........................................................................................................................................................................... 4.2 Summary.....................................................................................................................................................................................................

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C H A P T E R 1.0


CHAPTER 1.1

Chapter 1.0

DesignTheorem

This thesis proposes a Synergetic infrastructural system based on rhizomatic principles of structure with the purpose of addressing topographical conditions encounter along Bucaramanga's scarpe. It investigates the manipulation of the soil as a primary building block through a combination of earth base construction techniques. Through diagramming by vector mapping, potential points of emergence are identified resulting in a design process that gently and gradually reorganizes neglected landscapes into dynamic ecological and urban systems. The project aims is to conceptualize an infrastructural methodology that is both low cost and sensitive to the unleveled terrain. The thesis situates itself in the residual spaces left behind after decades of rapid urbanization in the city of Bucaramanga, region of Santander, Colombia along the Andes mountains. Such spaces become evident when flying over the region, where dark patches of greenery split the incandescent urban fabric. From the ground, some of these areas are defined

as natural walks, bike trails, or parks in the best of cases. However, for the most part these zones are simply undeveloped plots of land; neither significant urban spaces nor thriving ecosystems for flora or fauna. Instead they are an undefined object in the middle. These ambiguous spaces disjoint the urban pattern of large towns and cities in the country. Such areas are often evade because their topographical irregularities that pose a challenge to the conventional infrastructural methods which in essence are non-contextual; Its ideal state being best contained in Le Corbusier's words a "level site is the ideal site". A combination of severe slopes and torrential rains poses a major concern to cities and towns throughout northern South America. Contemporary infrastructure is simply not designed to deal with irregular terrains where leveling the site is not a viable option. Unless the appropriate methods to address irregular topography are applied, these zones will continue to break the urban fabric or simply be overtaken by slums; a common pattern in developing nations. Locally a slum

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CHAPTER 1.1

is refer to as invasion since the occupation of the land is of- ed seven million gallons of drinking water are lost each year ten unofficial or elgal. This sites lack proper infrastructure as well as billions of water waste being dump in to the Nations and are subject to the challenges posed by a steep terrain. Rivers are all consequences of an aging infrastructural system. 1.2. Contemporary infrastructure: Contemporary modes of construction tent to force alien materials on to the landscape. These materials often have to be brought from remote places which lead to major waste of resources, not only during but also after construction in order to maintain them. The manufacturing of construction materials is often dirty, involving unpleasant working conditions. This practice is already proven to cost illness. As in the case of asbestos, a component of asphalt, although control in develop nation after the 1970s, it is widely used in nations with less strict regulations. The underground placement of our infrastructure makes it extremely difficult to maintain. It requires heavy machinery and back braking work to cut through pavement in order to get to a leaking pipe. NY Time publisher Michael Cooper states that an estimat-

The wellbeing of construction workers is not an integral part of design. Architecture desing as in the case of other specialize fields has become increasingly detach from the physical act of building. It would not be fair to say that modern infrastructure has not improve the living conditions of a vast number of inhabitants, as well as triggering unimagined scientific progress. Nevertheless, these do not hide the fact of a severe ecological crisis; provoked by an uncontrolled and inefficient use of resources. We must first understand that the conditions which gave rise to contemporary infrastructure are no longer so. The zeitgeist of the petrochemical revolution has pass. The fact is that an infrastructural system based on nonrenewable resources is programmed to end. The conceivable solutions would have to conceptually differ from does that created the problems.

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CHAPTER 1.1

Standardized infrastructure overlooks the opportunities that topography could provide; mainly the inherent forces that could be used for passive system of water storage, treatment, and distribution. This is where a synergic infrastructural system comes in. This thesis advocates an infrastructure that could thrive in adverse topographical conditions. One that accommodates to the contour of the land and more importantly one that emerges from the land. It would be conceived by sculpting the earth; by subtraction instead of addition. In other words, it is done by carving out the ground and not by covering it up.

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CHAPTER 1.1

Bucaramanga Colombia Bucaramanga is the capital city of the department of Santander, Colombia. Bucaramanga has the fifth largest economy in Colombia, and has the sixth largest population in the country, with 1,212,656 people in its metropolitan area. Area: 63.71 sq miles (165 km²) Weather: 73°F (23°C), Wind N at 3 mph (5 km/h), 83% Humidity

High risk of erosion Median ricks of erosion

Population: 502,654 (2005) UNdata

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One of South America’s most famous sights, Machu Picchu is probably one of the most recognisable places on the planet. (Photo property of THE INSIDE TRACK, posted on Dec 5Th, 2001)


CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

Case Study I: Machu Picchu A good model of true Andean construction is found in the ancient city of Machu Picchu; a 15th-century Inca site located across a narrow ridge eight thousand feet above the sea level. It is located in the Cusco Region, Urubamba Province of Machupicchu District in Peru. The Incas built the estate around 1450, but was abandon 100 years later after the Spanish Conquest. It is believed that this was not the only city of its kind along the Andes territory. The Peruvian site was one of the few that survived the Spanish Conquistadors whom desecrated all the sites they found. Because of its remote location the city remained unknown until 1910 when the American explorer Hiram Bingham found it. Machu Picchu could be considered the last reminisces of vernacular Andes architecture.

phisticated and carefully planed series of filtering galleries design to contain and drive the rain water away from the city. This system prevented the colossal structure from sliding down the mountain. It consists of a series of step terraces made out of granite from the local quarry, carved using river rocks and no mortar. Each terrace contained layers, at the top rich soil, follow by sandy dirt, and ending with large stones. This system performs as a sponge; retaining rain water and slowly releasing it back in to the earth underneath to prevent erosion. The engineers place more than 100 drains throughout the structure to control the cascading of water from terrace to terrace. The Incas started from the bottom working their way up the mountain. The complex was constructed in phases; terraces were the first building; holding the mountain in place.

This case study does not suggest a step back in the architectural practice. It merely seeks to understand the means and meth- Ones at the top a colossal earth work eleven feet beods of a local response to an unleveled topographical condition. neath the main plaza collected and channeled water away from Hidden beneath the surface of Machu Picchu, lies a very so- the city. This fervent preparation of the terrain made al-

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

low Machu Picchu to housed more than 200 structures among homes, temples, shops, and observatories; all feeded by open water ways and fountains supporting up to 1000 people. These archeological discoveries are some of the few facts known about Machu Picchu, a civilization with no written records of any kind. Inca infrastructure is an example of a low tech & highly efficient construction method to address irregular terrains and erosion in adverse weather conditions. It seems odd that similar approaches are not utilized throughout contemporary Andean towns and cities since the general terrain and weather has not changed from that of the ancient Inca period. Midcentury conquistadors obliterated the accumulated knowledge of generations of natives and implanted a construction model alien to the conditions in the Andes territory.

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

Terraces layers consist of rich soil, follow by sandy dirt, and ending with large stones. This system performs as a sponge; retaining rain water and slowly releasing it back in to the earth underneath. PBS documentary Ghosts of Machu Picchu, Aired: 02/01/2010

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

Case Study II: Earth Construction A significant portion of this thesis investigates the earth as the primary building block for the proposed infrastructural system. Dirt, ground, earth is the second most abundant material in the planet after water. It is a noble material that has been used intuitively for centuries all around the glove by many different cultures at distinct periods. Earth is gentle and gracious, is soft and hart, is malleable and stable and most important; is virtually everywhere. It should not come as a surprise that an estimated three billion people, about half of the worlds population lives in buildings constructed of earth. Ironically earth base construction is often associated with poverty and scarcity of building material; more of a social stigma than an objective conclusion. The Author Ronald Rael in his book Eaerth Architecture addresses the misconceptions associated with earth architecture. He does so providing examples of airports, embassies, hospitals, museums, and factories that are made of earth. Rael ar-

gues against the assumption that earth is a brittle, ephemeral material, while in fact some of the oldest buildings are made of it. Earth base construction is regaining momentum in the modern architectural practice because of its ecologically friendly attributes. Earth construction offers a variety of techniques and finishes, some passed on from generations as well as up-todate approaches. Among them are super adobe, rammed earth, mud brick, compressed earth, and cob construction. Super adobe: Superadobe was first introduced by Iranian architect Nader Khalili who presented the concept to NASA for building habitats in the Moon and Mars. He describes it as a long adobe, an instant and flexible line generator. It consist of long or short prefabricated bags that are filled with on-site earth and stack in layers or long coils (compression) with strands of barbed wire placed between them to act as both mortar and reinforcement (tension) in order to reached present-day safety requirements.

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

Khalili and his organization devoted many years researching a construction method that is simple and easy to perform; one that is not limited to the obtainability of expensive equipment. It involves neither heavy lifting nor hazardous materials. The goal of Superadove construction is to include widest range of people to participate in the building process. The capabilities of this construction method are numerous as described by Cal earth institute: "The Superadobe can be coiled into vaults and domes, the way a potter coils a pot, with barbed wire reinforcement, to build structures which pass California's earthquake codes. These structures can last for one season before returning to earth, or they can be stabilized, waterproofed, and finished as permanent structures. The system can be used for structural arches, domes and vaults, or conventional rectilinear shapes. The same method can build silos, clinics, schools, landscaping elements, or infrastructure like dams, cisterns, roads, bridges, and for stabilizing shorelines and watercourses"

The materials use for a permanent Superadobe structures are synthetic bags and barbed wire. The bags are plastered over

Image by Rogerio Almeida and Gustavo Thron

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1999-2013 Cal-Earth Inc./Geltaftan Foundation. All Rights Reserved. | DianeV Web Design Studio


CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

to provide an erosion resisting layer, or they can be removed if a stabilizer such lime or cement was included in the filling mixture. The barbed wire is four-point, two strand, galvanized barbed wire and is recyclable. By filling bags directly from the land and reinforcing with barbed wire, almost any earth can be used and the speed of building is much faster than sun dry mud brick. Such characteristics make super adobe ideal for the conception of a long term earth base infrastructural intervention along the eroding the sites scarpe. Bucaramanga is not alien to adobe construction as large portions of the historic district encompass one and two stories adobe bindings from the early nineteenth hundreds. Most of this buildings currently served as governmental institutions. Adobe construction is present even in contemporary large scale projects such as the Chicamocha National Park completed in 2006, located a mere forty minutes drive away from the city. This means that local labor is most likely familiar and comfortable

to work with this adobe related technique. Rammed earth: Rammed earth is also an efficient way to use the on-site material. In the article titled Rammed Earth (pise). The author Paul Downton detectibly summarizes the basics of rammed earth construction. It opens up with the simplest description of this technique: "Rammed earth walls are constructed by ramming a mixture of selected aggregates, including gravel, sand, silt and a small amount of clay, into place between flat panels called formwork"

This method was first used in Lions, France in 1562 where builders constructed 50cm thick walls (about 19.6 inches) solely made out of earth. However contemporary builders often add a one to ten part of cement which allows for a thinner wall. Like superdome, this technique also works in layers but in this case

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

construction allows for the reuse of the frame work thus cutting some material cost. High tech equipment such as a mechanical-ram could be employed however the basic technique is not bound to the presence of this technology as a simple wooden pole and muscle strength would work just as well. Another advantage is that rammed walls could be produce in mass and later assemble. On one hand prefabrication could limit the flexibility rhizomic structure that intends to accommodate to an uneven terrain. On the other hand prefabricating earth modules would cut cost significantly for a large scale project such as the one propose for the Bucaramanga scarp. The aesthetic qualities of rammed earth are also a plus if compare to Superadobe since and rammed wall does not require finishing ones out of it mold. The stratification due to ramming results in beautiful organic patters and could be color with additives. Also, rammed earth wall are not limited to a flat surfaces, horizontal and vertical curves are also possible but do

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Rammed earth wall samples from SIREWALL Stabilized inzulated rammed earth

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CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

require extra work and careful planning thus increasing cost. Among the numerous qualities of rammed earth are its high thermal mass performance, its breathability, low toxicity, and sound insulation. Structurally speaking, Downton points out that rammed earth is very strong in compression and has been used for multi-story load bearing construction. It's widely used in countries such as New Zealand where research indicates this type of construction performs better in the event of an earthquakes when compared to brick or block construction; another point in favor considering the incessant seismic activity in Bucaramanga's plateau. A combination of Superadobe and Rammed earth construction techniques are the most efficient and ecologically conscious way to address the infrastructural issues along the 17 km that the scarp encompasses. These would utilize on site material and would not be constrain to the presence of power tools or heavy machinery witch is not always available.


CHAPTER 1.3 Precedent Analysis

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CHAPTER 2.0 Design Analisys

2.1 Site Context The history of Bucaramanga begins as early as 1620 and was first inhabited by Indians who spoke Guanes; language from which the name Bucaramanga derives from. It means land of Lord Bucarica. During that time the city was made out of some 20 thousand inhabitants; Spanish Conquistador among those. The city of Bucaramanga is what is today because of its strategic position within the region of Santander. Is the place where numerous rivers and creeks converge. This quality made it ideal for mercantile transport to and from the city. At the time coffee and tobacco were the main exporting goods. It remained almost unchanged up to the early 1900s. The first 30 years of the 20th century the small town witnessed the arrival of electric lines, the telephone, and even the first automobile. Surprisingly, the most expensive commodity was drinkable water; despite it being in abundance around the mesa. The industrial revolution caused an explosive growth of the town which in 60 years quadrupled its size to the point

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CHAPTER 2.0 Design Analisys

Growth map from 1900s to 1960s Housing regulations. Early 1900s

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CHAPTER 2.0 Design Analisys

where the entire semi flat surface of the mesa was occupied. (Growth map from 1900s to 1960s next page). For decades to follow, the city of Bucamanga saw no other alternative but to contain itself to the shape of the plateau. Now days one could think of this as a very lucky constrain for the development of the city because it keep a dense urban pattern. However, poor city planning led to a major ecological crisis because all runoff water was being dump from the west side of the mesa, causing alarming an erosion problem. The issue was such that in 1950s city officials created a delegation called the Corporation for the Defense of Bucaramanga Mesa or CDMB (Spanish acronym). This entity is in charge to deal with 17Km of erosion, and one of their first moves was to create a perimeter road an sewage system to one, delineate the limit of the city, and two, to channel the run of water to strategically spots. The second phase of the CDMB plan consisted of reforest-

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CHAPTER #

This thesis proposes a Synergetic infrastructural system based on rhizomatic principles of structure with the purpose of addr

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CHAPTER 2.0 Design Analisys

ing the city edge. These tow moves certainly contained the problem in hand but unintentionally caused others. At this point the problem is somewhat contained from the engendering perspective does what it was design to do, but form an architectural and urban perspective y created an invisible wall that prevents the present citizens of Bucaramanga to aware of the reality of their environmental context. It leaved behind an undefined 17km long insidious space. The aim of this thesis is to analyze the site conditions and to idealize a procedure to address this situation. It does sob by first collecting the most accurate topographical data in order to understand the factual condition and then trying to understand the edge from the everyday citizen perspective; asking how or what is the relation between the subject and the object. The topographical map clearly shows the 2 degrees incline where the city lays as wells as the scarped edge that contains it.

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CHAPTER 2.0 Design Analisys

Figure ground. This map shows the density and easily traceable shape of the city. Bucaramanga with its 1.2 million inhabitants is a walk able city. The next two pages display a series of still images of what is like along the edge of Bucaramanga.

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C H A P T E R 2.0


CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

This is the first of a series of topographical and urban analysis taken from onsite surveys. This study exposes three neighborhoods separated by a major topographical cut.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

Case two: Neighborhoods developing along the outer ridges as slim tentacles coming out of the city core.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

Case three: the oldest part of the city; this is where buildings have fallen due to erosion and the only remaining are their faรงade.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

Case four: So close but so far. Entire neighborhoods with people that know each other but have to look at each other from the distance.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

Case five: One of the few instances where the urban fabric gets out of its self inpose prison and allows itself to venture in to the uncommon.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

Particle Flow Studies This thesis proposes the usage of particle flow studies in order to predict the behavior of runoff water on the terrain for a more accurate and efficient intervention. Studies could be set locally or at large scales. On the left is an example of a macro study on runoff water as it travels through the city streets. On the right is a local study as the runoff travels and collects from a predetermine point.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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Brick Wall/Dilapidating faรงade Brick wall are used to define certain spaces such as public parks of soccer fields. This is per haves the most problematic of condition because it shamelessly hides the problem and disassociates the citizens from their environment. In some cases the walls are patch up facades of dilapidated buildings.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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Soft Slope/Greenery Commonly found along the trail. These areas are sometimes taken by local residents as their public garden, sometimes even building little quiosques for small gatherings.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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Cliff side Rare but yet present along the perimeter way, abrupt falls are usually treated with either a brick wall or a mid-fence and usually a sidewalk.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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Earth wall This is the rarest of cases, when the terrain comes down toward the houses; these spaces are mostly left untreated.

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CHAPTER 2.3: Spatial Adjacencies,

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Sport field Found Throughout the perimeter. Soccer’s is the national sport and a common hobby among male youth and young adults. They are building out of red brick and cage in with tall fences to keep the ball in. These areas highly problematic because of their low permeability; becoming a threat to the eroding edge.

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Chapter 3.0 Design Synthesis

Inverted island This is the beginning idea of the intervention that suggests a reconceptualization of neglected infrastructural spaces in to a form of egalitarian architecture. Rain gardens could collect water within the city. A second proposal would be to transform the existing infrastructure such as sport arenas into water collector that would slowly release the water back to the ground. It would utilize ancient techniques like those used in Machu picchu.

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Chapter 3.0 Design Synthesis

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Chapter 3.0 Design Synthesis

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BiBliography Deleuze, Gilles, and Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1987. Print. Fiels Conditions: Revisited. New York: Stan Allen Architect, 2010. Print. Landa, Manuel De. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History. New York: Zone, 1997. Print. Nestor Rueda y Jaime Álvarez . Historia de Urbana de Bucaramanga 1900 - 1930. Bucaramanga: Colombia. Dirección Cultural. 2012. Print Khalili, Nader, and Iliona Outram. Emergency Sandbag Shelter and Eco-village: Manual--how to Build Your Own with Superadobe/earthbag. Hesperia, CA: Cal-Earth, 2008. Print.

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