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Pampean Differentiations Discontinuity and Integration in Peripheral Buenos Aires1 Julián Varas The professionals of the city are like chess players who lose to computers. Rem Koolhaas

A. GLOBAL WIND 2 The early 1980´s could be considered as a average date to situate, particularly in Latinamerica, the crystallization of a series of economic, political, technological and territorial processes that characterize the global phase of the capitalist development model; this period has also been named post-fordist, neo-liberal, post-industrial o post-modern, among other denominations. As indicated by some of the most influential theoreticians of the period3 these processes deeply impacted the contemporary forms of urban organization. New criteria of entrepreneurial organization, taking advantage of a technological and political framework conducive to the mobility of capital and labor, inaugurated what David Harvey has termed the model of flexible accumulation. In this model, the relations between regions and between center and periphery have mutated beyond recognition. The conurbations of Latin America had expanded drastically under the influx of industrialization, but that model of growth saw its decline during the latter part of the 20th                                                              1

This essay is a substantially reworked and summarized version of the text published under the same title in the book Archipelagos: A Manual for Peripheral Buenos Aires, edited by Marc Angélil, Cary Siress and Julián Varas (Buenos Aires: UP/ETH, 2010). 2

The title of my essay refers to the process of periurbanization in the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires during the last three decades. Since its goal is to situate this process within the context of an operative theory of globalization, two sections have been included –one at the beginning and one at the end- with the aim of clarifying the concept of globalization and analyzing the practices and discourses that have productively intepreted it. These sections are somewhat longer than usual, as I intend to emphasize the importance of the frame through which the phenomenon is considered. This frame determines the conditions of possibility of the phenomenon and configures the challenges and opportunities that globalization offers to the disciplines of architecture and urbanism. 3

David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Inquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (1990), Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo (Second edition, 2001). A comparative view between the anglosaxon and the mediterranean process is offered by Giuseppe Dematteis, “Suburbanización y Periurbanización: Ciudades Anglosajonas y Ciudades Latinas”, in La Ciudad Dispersa, edited by F. J. Monclus (Barcelona, 1998). The case of Buenos Aires is treated by Pablo Cicollela and Iliana Mignaqui, “Buenos Aires: Sociospatial Impacts of the Development of Global City Functions”, in Global Networks, Linked Cities, edited by Saskia Sassen (New York: Routledge, 2002).

century as a result of the global tendencies mentioned. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of the shift into the contemporary mode of urbanization was the progressive liquefaction of the molar distinctions that had shaped the concept of the urban for centuries. The material conditions that had once defined spatial polarities such as urban-rural, or center-periphery, were gradually overridden by a new order that internalized those differences into an increasingly discontinuous, yet systemically integrated whole. This essay seeks to characterize the processes that generated a new order, which has transformed the region of the Pampas producing novel territorial forms, emerging lifestyles and an unprecedented social cartography. Such processes –which have been frequently described in terms of their homogenizing effects- are here regarded as capable of generating internal differentiation, at territorial, social and cultural levels. The Global Regime: A political reflection. In their analysis of the formation of a fully interwoven biosphere, political theorists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri4 detect the emergence of a structural novelty with regard to previous modes of economic and cultural integration. While the new power structures of late capitalism may be viewed as a continuation of existing institutions dating back to the XIXth century, it was only during the last fifty years that a drastic increase in speed and sensitivity within its networks gave rise to the current planetary condition, characterized by the ability of said institutions to effect direct reconfigurations on the landscape of production. The implications of this stage of Integrated World Capitalism (IWC)5 outline a sweeping new conception of our regime of power and production in which the system is no longer understood as a medium (actual or potential) for the sustenance of material life, but becomes an autonomous, unlimited form, one that is devoid of exteriority. IWC no longer functions at the service of the accumulation and reproduction of the relations of production, nor does it reduce itself to the articulation of a politico-economic ideology; instead, it constitutes itself as an overarching framework for thought and action. Transnational Reorganization of the Networks of Control Foremost amongst the various efforts that attempted to conceptualize this emergent scenario during the late 80’s and 90’s is Saskia Sassen’s book The Global City (1991). Sassen addresses here the process that encompasses the last fifty years of capitalist evolution, tracking the ways in which the system of production underwent one of its deepest reconfigurations. Especially since the 1970’s, new constellations of industrial power (linked to                                                             4

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2001), 31-32.


Félix Guattari, The Three Ecologies (Londres: The Athlone Press, 2000).

the reconstruction of central and north European economies, and the emergence of Japan) challenged American hegemony, creating adequate conditions for the reconfiguration of the global ecology of decision-making. Control of transnational financial operations, which had been until then concentrated in the hands of American companies, became distributed throughout an increasingly diversified network of cities and organizations. The book centrally argues that the decade of 1980 witnessed the rise of a globally integrated yet geographically dispersed regime of command. Thus the concept of a global city is defined as a nodal attraction point for the centers of operation and control of the new transnational entities. The latter become dominant during this period, eroding the geo-territorial boundaries and autonomies of the nation-states, on the base of which had been modeled the system of industrial capitalism. Towards a tendentious reticular ecumenopolis While globalization rests on ideas of mobility and fluidity, digital connectivity, the liquefaction of (certain) barriers to trade, redistribution of existing productive functions and creation of new ones, and the decline of state powers -a whole new mode of economic integration-, its main urban implications have typically been rendered as images of social polarization and physical fragmentation. At inter-urban scales, globalization has implied the differentiation of the economic base of cities, as some of them became centers for management and control functions, and others, on a wide geographical scale, consolidated their dependence on manufacturing or agriculture. Internally, cities that held an intermediate position, combining management and manufacturing activities, underwent processes of acute differentiation, accentuating the extremes of the social pyramid. For all of these local segregations, however, globalization seems to have fostered, or at least run parallel to, a process of physical integration at regional and even continental scales. The ubiquitous processes of urban expansion, sprawl, and networking—originally interpreted as a mere outgrowth of suburbia, but more recently theorized as the cause for the appearance of a distinctly new, and not necessarily negative, historical condition6—constitute the most remarkable piece of evidence left in its wake. Superseding the urban-rural opposition, the contemporary city became a polycentric meshwork of attractors activating the movement of its citizens. Evidence and Predictions In his analysis of the recent conditions of the processes of peri-urbanization in cities of Anglosaxon and Mediterranean Europe, Giuseppe Dematteis7 states that “currently, every center, as a node of a tendentious reticular ecumenopolis, grows, stagnates, or declines                                                             6

Cfr, Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (Basic Books, 1989), and Giuseppe Dematteis, op. cit. 


Op. cit.

according to its specializations, the nature of the exchanges it maintains with other nodes in the network, or the conditions of its environment”. In 1974 the Greek architect and planner Constantinos Doxiadis had published a prediction of similar events under the bold title: Ecumenopolis, The Inevitable City of the Future8. Exhibiting an impressive command of a vast array of sources of historical and geographical information, Ecumenopolis laid out a vision of an urban future at a global scale. Although the 1970’s was a time when technocratic, deterministic theories of modernization had already become suspect (discrediting predictive/prescriptive practices), Doxiadis went into a speculative overdrive, projecting perceived demographic and technological trends, to conclude that the whole world would be wired into a single, continuous, urban system by the dawn of the 22nd century. Unaffected by the explosive implications for predictive mechanisms—and modern science as a whole—of the investigations in thermodynamics of the likes of Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stengers9, his extreme simplification of the social and ecological dynamic allowed him to envision a smooth passage from civilization to ecumenization -a movement that would allow humanity to converge into a single physical, social and political conglomerate, eventually reaching a state of harmonious unification. Despite his overt positivism and innocence, typical of a modern technocrat, Doxiadis’s maps and drawings showing a continuous urban network at a global scale are useful in describing the state of development at which some European, North American, and Asian regions have arrived in the last few decades.

B. TOPOGRAPHIC HETEROGENESIS Seams: Infrastructural Networks The studies that undertake a description and analysis of these phenomena are numerous regarding the central cities of the northern hemisphere.10 What has been the equivalent of these processes within the Latinamerican context, and, more specifically, in relationship with the Metropolitan Region of Buenos Aires (MRBA)? Histories of the suburbanization process in the MRBA11 account for this process over several phases, which are                                                             8

Constantinos Doxiadis, Ecumenopolis: The Inevitable City of the Future (New York: Norton, 1974).


Ilya Prigogine & Isabelle Stengers, Order of Chaos. Man’s New Dialogue with Nature (New York: Bantam, 1984).


For example: Joel Garreau, Edge Cities: Life on the New Frontier (New York: Doubleday, 1991); Dolores Hayden, Building Suburbia: Green Fields and Urban Growth 1820-2000 (New York: Vintage Books, 2004); Robert Fishman, Bourgeois Utopias: The Rise and Fall of Suburbia (New York: Basic Books, 1987); Peter Rowe, Making a Middle Landscape (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991); Thomas Sieverts, Zwischenstadt, [Cities without Cities: An Interpretation of the Zwischenstadt (Londres: Spon Press, 2003)]. 11 Horacio Torres, “Procesos Recientes de Fragmentación Socioespacial en Buenos Aires: La Suburbanización de las élites”, Mundo Urbano 3 (Universidad Nacional de Quilmes); and “Cambios Socioterritoriales en Buenos Aires en la Década de 1990”, EURE 27, no. 80 (May 2001), 3356; Margarita Gutman and Jorge Enrique Hardoy, Buenos Aires 1536-2006: Historia Urbana del Area Metropolitana (Buenos Aires: Infinito, 2007).

defined by the convergence of specific public policies and the catalyzer action of various transportation technologies. Prior to the suburban explosion that began in the decade of 1990, the periphery of Buenos Aires had achieved its configuration through the layering of two successive waves of suburbanization. Connected with the development of the railways and the influence of British investment, the first wave had taken place around the turn of the twentieth century, and had originated a range of semi independent settlements distributed in a spider web system that radiated from the center of the city12. As opposed to later periods, these settlements took the form of small villages which were organized on a grid pattern much like the city center itself. The homogeneity of their geometry was affected, however, by the centrality generated by public elements such as the train station, the main square, and the church. Arguably more profound in its impact, the second wave of suburbanization occurred in relation to new migratory patterns, and to a shift in the predominant modes of transportation. The wealth that had accumulated in Buenos Aires increased the imbalance with the provinces to drastic levels, generating a massive influx of migrants from the rural areas of the country. This time, the expansion of the city catered to the new working class who would settle on the outskirts thanks to the combination of soft land grant and parceling policies, and the possibility to commute by means of a strongly subsidized bus transport system. While similarly based on the proven expediency of the grid, this structuring process generated a landscape that was far less heterogeneous than the previous one. Almost deprived of infrastructure and public spaces, the new system expanded at vertiginous speed, carpeting vast expanses of land with its square pattern of city blocks and its long and narrow private plots. For all of their endless repetition and homogeneity, these emerging landscapes were still reliant on idea of the continuity of public space, and the experience of it through public transport systems and pedestrian movement. These are perhaps the experiential registers upon which globalization would effect the deepest set of transformations. Insularity: The Urbanism of the Figure The model of import substitution, for which the periphery had offered an efficient resource as the settling area of both new immigrants and new industries, entered into a phase of stagnation and decline during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Meanwhile, the technocratic administrations of the military regime exercised no restraint in transforming the infrastructures of the city in a clear realignment of the urban policies that favored private individual transit. Although the first urbanized enclaves had been already founded in the periphery in the 1930’s, the gradual shift to private transportation allowed many middle and upper class city dwellers to                                                             12

James Scobie, Buenos Aires, Plaza to Suburb (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974).

acquire weekend houses in the suburbs in what are locally called country clubs. This typology, which preannounced the prototype that would give rise to the figure-figure urbanism of the 1990’s—an urbanism devoid of rules of spatial articulation other than mere adjacency—, had a visible effect on the periphery, but did not manage to install itself as a central issue of the urban debate. Its impact on the structure of production was limited too. Predominantly undertaken by modernist professional constituencies, many of those urbanizations achieved their character as a result of a piecemeal construction process in which the combined efforts of independent architects were regulated by stringent construction codes. Their internal organization was conditioned by the smooth spaces created by the connective infrastructure, which proliferated into a multitude of dead-end capillaries and closed loops. As a counterpart, the a-signifying seams generated by the perimeter enclosures of the first developments served to articulate their interrelations. Bronchial ramifications coiled upon themselves and clustered against each other while retracting from almost invisible borders. The realm of smooth space thus expanded into the cavities of plot aggregations, negotiating polygonal enclosures with curvilinear dexterity. Challenging one of the founding principles of urban design, the edge ceased to be an object of reverence or celebration to become a mere line of contact between entities otherwise disconnected from each other. No longer attempting to function as a symbolic marker of finitude or completeness, it performed separation without representation. On the contrary, ingress retained its monumentality. In a new twist to its evolving history, the gate concealed its increasingly complex technical setup, becoming an open declaration of style. During the first stages of their existence, laws prevented clustering by requiring country clubs to maintain a minimum separation of several kilometers. Programmatically, their incorporation of sports and communal facilities represented the symbiosis of dwelling and leisure, in the same way that medieval urban houses had conflated dwelling and production. The resulting urban quality was semi-rural, with houses still spaced apart, nature still filling up most of the view-frame. At larger scales, their figural presence distinguished them over an otherwise timidly occupied territory. Assemblages: The Figure-Figure Diagram After a brief resurrection of the notion of ideological pre-figuration—from whence emerged ambitious projects such as moving the federal administration to Patagonia—was made possible by the reappearance of democracy in Argentina, the nineties gave up the idea of strategic planning altogether. In a new political scenario, the smoothing out of the pathways for the ingress of capital benefited from the stabilization of the domestic institutional system after 50 years of upheaval. In line with paradigmatic urban renewal operations such as the transformation of London’s Docklands, at the top of the political agenda was the need to facilitate the penetration of capital, hence the rejuvenation and expansion of urban infrastructure was seen as the main preparatory step. Empowered by a stabilized economy and

cheap credit, the real estate market flourished. Far from traditional urban diagrams, in which the fabric is lent a sense of purpose and coherence by the organizing agency of public space -even in its simplest gridded form-, the developments that followed were eagerly motivated by its opposite: the natural, the limitless, the archaic, the (seemingly) informal. In the central areas, the upward explosion of the city sought to compensate the reduction of the footprint with a sense of possession afforded by vistas of distant Pampean horizons. At the same time, traditional conceptions of urbanity were revived in a renovated attempt to define and consolidate centers and borders. The regeneration of the waterfront, historically relegated to infrastructural functions, was mobilized by the discovery that public space can survive only in the presence of, and as a function of the soothing effects of water. Large tracts of land were redeveloped in close proximity to the river, taking advantage of the aura exuded by the existing industrial constructions. Driven by a search for a condition of otherness—sky, water, vegetation, wildlife—the same type of pressures that set in motion the vertical expansion of the city, or the recuperation of its waterfront, promoted the construction of an extensive array of highways in an attempt to increase the connectivity between the city center and the suburbs. If the boundaries of the city had been barely nominal for decades, then the 90’s further erased them in a two movement act that, by the time of the writing of this text, seems to be compressing into the space of two decades, developments that took almost fifty years in the American cities that originated them. Initially, it consolidated the functional interdependence between city and its periphery by shifting the functional role of the latter from temporary inhabitation and leisure to permanent residence. Contrary to the American experience, where suburbia was usually settled on virgin land, many settlements around Buenos Aires had originated as self-contained villages, with small local economies. This had allowed them to develop identities and lifestyles of their own, preserving a relative independence from the city. With the augmented accessibility, this status would give way to an emergent lifestyle based on the combination of the advantages of a centrally located workspace and a relaxed, secure living environment surrounded by “nature”. A more recent trend of development seems to conform to Robert Fishman’s notion of technoburb: an advanced stage of peri-urbanization characterized by the gradual weakening of the interdependence between center and periphery, thanks to the increasing dispersion of jobs and services in office and industrial parks scattered along the main developmental corridors. In the period since the early nineties, the configuration of these territories was altered beyond recognition: their density, social patterning, and programmatic composition have been irreversibly transformed. Given the laxity of the existing regulatory frameworks, the sprawling movement was literally shaped by the economic forces at play. While the proliferation of gated communities constituted the main material and driving engine of the process, the physical

configuration of the territory was defined by the aggregation of several types of fragments (malls, slums, office parks, etc), whose relative presence in the mixture served to differentiate territories locally. As a whole, the periphery became a fully occupied domain, overcoming its former image of a rural tapestry sown with patches of inhabitation. For the first time, a form of territorial organization was fully determined by the rule of direct-cut: the sudden adjacency of urban fragments, coexisting side by side without any pretense of connectivity or formal articulation.13 Attractors: Nature’s Devices Catering to the increasing demand for a closer integration between domestic life and access to sports and water-based activities, recent gated developments deploy novel organizational devices by altering pre-existing topographies and ecosystems. One such mechanism, the introduction of large bodies of water, works by inverting the traditional principle of the urban park. While the park used to be a place for intense public utilization and encounter, water acts as an organizer of privacies. Rather than a cohesive tissue, it keeps things apart exploiting the friendliness with which domesticated nature can perform the most unfriendly of functions—separation. Once the need for recreational outdoor space has been fulfilled by the private lawn, and since public activities have been engulfed by shopping or sports, there is little need for parks or public gardens. And yet, there remains a need for an urban void which can offer conditions of distancing and openness; this is entrusted to the pond, in a most effective way of reincarnating the picturesque sensibility. In its current state, the pond can be regarded as a communal pacifier that catalyzes the sedimentation of a unique social genre, for which it becomes almost a condition of possibility—whether its existence is real or imaginary. Invariably set at the center of the organization—but the term center must be utilized here with extreme caution—, the pond mobilizes the wildest formal convolutions, realizing in the landscape the pending promises that the digital revolution had made to the architectural discipline: its improbably contorted shapes intermingle with flaccidly bending peninsulas in a topographic pas de deux. Restrained only by quantity, the formal catalogue encompasses a vast range of possibilities that—with the exception of the straight and the orthogonal— includes virtually every thinkable configuration. As capricious as it might appear at first, however, the formal complexity of the coastline is a composite index of the exclusivity of the land it frames. The more curvilinear, the longer the shoreline; the longer the shoreline, more isolated the plot; the more isolated the plot the more exclusive the property; the more exclusive property the more expensive the transaction. Alternatively, the central function is performed by the golf course. In the absence of ponds or streams, this most malleable and elastic of programs provides a degree of internal                                                             13

Richard Ingersoll, Sprawltown: Looking for the City on its Edges (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2007).

differentiation that is based on a meticulously concealed logic of straight lines (long range shots, expansive views). Often laid out as a narrow buffer area separating the backside of housing lots, the golf course introduces the concept of public space as a walking lawn that detaches itself from the car circulation network. It thus complexifies the connective tissue within the development, with potential—but still unexplored— repercussions for programmatic differentiation. Compositionally, its fundamental shapelessness allows it to absorb the differences between the geometrically continuous groups of plots, and the often orthogonal perimeters of the overall development. Its curvaceous profiles cast a sense of picturesque variation on the otherwise abstract, featureless topography of the Pampas.

C. IMAGINING THE VOID A reconceptualization of urbanism in the context of the neoliberal economy. Within the economic and political logic of the welfare state, physical planning is fluidly integrated in the framework of state action. In an economy where the state acts as an ideologue, driver, and executive force of the development policies, the main concern of the planning disciplines is to determine a spatial organizational logic that is consistent with those principles. Its aim is thus to establish acceptable criteria of housing density, social composition, land use, etc, and to set in motion the bureaucratic mechanisms capable of implementing said policies. However, as has been noted, the shift in the role of the state, from a developmentmanager to an entrepreneur, has had a deep influence on the form of the city. In fact, the emergence of a whole new dynamic of global integration and its associated processes of urbanization have brought about novel forms of urban organization such as polycentrism, typological and scalar juxtapositions and dislocations, tree-like or discontinuous circulatory systems, infrastructural redundancies and defficiencies apparently anaccounted for, amorphous, residual, or inaccessible fragments of nature, unprecedented social and programmatic collages; in sum, a set of apparently chaotic and irrational features. Here it is impossible to detect the organizational patterns that defined the previous concepts of the city. Based on these observations, one can notice the contradiction incurred by several authors who simultaneously consider this process as an intrinsically new phenomenon, and as the degradation of a pre-existing urban condition, that is, as a situation that should be understood chiefly through reference to a previous, higher-degree model. For the disciplines linked to the physical organization of the city, it is important to clear this contradiction, openly asuming the consequences that might arise thenceforth. This effort involves a need to free judgment from the criteria that emanate from the logic of the industrial city. The understanding of the contemporary urban condition as a kind of “sub-urbanity”

confirms the existence of a defficiency not just of the city itself as a material and social organism, but of the conceptual instruments through which we seek to penetrate its reality. If Henri Lefevre’s image of a “generalized urbanization” appears today as prophetic as the visions of Doxiadis, his depiction of it as a “degradation of the historical city… a magma, a chaos in which the city and the countryside intermingle confusedly”14, seems to be less useful. It would thus be fitting to complement Lefebvre’s statement with the Koolhaasian idea that the contemporary city is a prey of the logic of the center15. For, even if there is today an explicit recognition of the fact that a new, specifically peri-urban morphology has emerged in conection with the economic system of globalization, it is rather unsual to find analyses that explore such condition opportunistically, taking it as a fact, instead of an impendig danger. In that sense, despite the insistent diagnostic that urbanism is increasingly powerless to operate within the context of deregulation, it is necessary to underscore a series of possibilities that have come to define a new relevance for the disciplines of urban design and planning. While in the developmental model the fundamental commitment of planning consisted in promoting and regulating the settlement of productive functions on the territory, in the framework of the neoliberal system the design and protection of the urban void has emerged as the main concern –or, at least, the most fertile field- of the discipline. Indeed, once the deregulation of the processes of urban development is admitted as fact, the role of planning is increasingly linked to the notion of preservation. In extreme cases, such as the city of Arizona, the successes exhibited by the public administration –which, forced to react to the pressures exerted by certain constituencies whose rights were afffected by the growth of parcellization, begins to endeavor to limit expansion- consist in the possibility of guaranteeing a minimal access to areas that were previously free of restrictions. These are relatively modest achievements which nonetheless have potential to become innovative policies inasmuch as their goals are generalized, giving rise to the production of networks of public open spaces and nature reserves at territorial scale. Moving beyond the notion of preservation of natural areas toward the more encompassing concept of design and planning of territorial open space, this type of action displays a capacity to positively influence the development of urban form in a symbiotic relationship with the forces of the market. It should come as no surprise, then, that the thinking of the physical form of the city is growingly reliant on the gaze of landscape architecture, involving it in practically every reflection upon the city. The notion of planning as formation of the void can be productive both in processes of shrinkage and of urban expansion. The architect, urbanist, and theoretician Rem Koolhaas                                                             14

Henri Lefebvre, Espace et Politique. Le Droit à la Ville II (Paris: Editions Anthropos, 1972). Quoted by Carlos de Mattos, “Globalización y Metamorfosis Metropolitana en América Latina: De la Ciudad a lo Urbano Generalizado”. Grupo de Estudios sobre Desarrollo Urbano, Documentos de Trabajo n. 8 (Madrid, 2010).


Rem Koolhaas, “The Generic City”, SMLXL (New York: The Monacelli Press, 1995).

formulated this strategy already during the 70´s and 80´s, devising a new mode of urban production based on the idea of the void as a principal means through which to structure the form of the city. His projects explored the concept of open space as the authentic amalgam of urban form –as opposed to, say, housing, or insititutional buildings. Green Archipelago, a project for Berlin realized as part of a team lead by Oswald Matthias Ungers in 197716 constituted a speculation about the possibility that the city would adopt a definite form as a result of a process of population loss. The strategy consisted in the definition of urban figures –islandsthat would stand independently of their architectural content, against a green background that would function as a reservoir of nature and vacant space for future growth. The competition entry for the ville nouvelle Melun-Sénart17 of 1986, on the outskirts of Paris, criticised the dominant ideology employed in the design of new cities of the parisian periphery, insisting of the preeminence of the void as a structuring element and source of identity. The split between building and institutional design, and open space, and the acceptance of the formal indeterminacy (or irrelevance) of the former amounts to an implicit embrace of the logic of the capitalist city, and an attempt to explore the possibilities of a new type of public space. These experiences outline a series of trajectories for urban thought characterized by their disposition to accept the economic and political dynamic of the late-capiltalist city, without renouncing to the notion of collective value embedded in urban form. If the idea of place, as has been rendered in architectural and urban theory since the end of the second world war, implies a certain form of resistance to urbanization (inasmuch as the latter involves, within capitalism, a constant process of change and deterritorialization) the overcoming of the utilitarian theory of the void, and its conception as a reservoir of meaning and value for the city, might revitalize that concept, which has lost its potency due to its association with the confortable image of what is already known.


Pier Vittorio Aureli, “Toward the Archipelago” Log n. 11 (New York) Invierno 2008.


Véase: Rem Koolhaas, op. cit.

Pampean Differentiations  
Pampean Differentiations  

Essay published on PLOT (Buenos Aires)