brkt: infrastructure and the musseques

December 19, 2008

As I have been thinking about it, it seems clear to me that it is essential that, if our infrastructures are proposed as potentially placed in the musseques, then the infrastructure must not be merely advantageous to the inhabitants of the musseques (as we define advantageous), but manipulable, subject to the desires of the inhabitants as they express them.

I find Lebbeus Wood’s thinking (in a proposal for the insertion of a ‘capsule’ into slums) on this particularly clear:

From the side of the slum dwellers, it might seem an unwelcome intrusion from outside, just another quick fix imposed by the economically advantaged on the desperately poor, serving the interests of the rich by transforming the slum according to their well-intentioned but—to the slum dweller–necessarily opposed values. It is especially important, then, that the transformative capsule enables the slum-dwellers to achieve their goals, serving their values, and does not reduce them to subjects of its designers’ and makers’ will. Inevitably, the values, prejudices, perspectives and aspirations of the designers and makers will be imbedded in the capsule and what it does. Therefore the slum-dwellers should, in the first place, have the right of refusal. Also, they must have the right to modify the capsule and its effects as they see fit. It cannot be a locked system, capable of producing only a predetermined outcome. The implication of these freedoms is that the capsule, whatever its capabilities, could be used to work against the intentions of its designers and makers. Because the effects of the capsule would be powerfully transformative, its possession would involve risk for all the groups, and individuals, involved.

This also suggests to me that it is problematic to think of the infrastructure as funded by or inserted by the government of Luanda/Angola, given the conflicts of interest that have already arisen between the government and musseque-dwellers.

Perhaps it is better to think of the infrastructure as flexibile not just in terms of deployment, affect, effect, etc., but also flexible in terms of ownership and funding.

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One Response to “brkt: infrastructure and the musseques”

  1. [...] being appropriated by the people of a city1.  But to combine appropriate and influence within a project that is less rigidly defined (given that rigid definition typically comes at the expense of the homes of the poor) is [...]

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