brkt: infrastructure and rigidity

January 10, 2009

It is fairly obvious how a rigid infrastructure — the interstate highway system, for instance — can allow the architect some measure of influence, while also 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 considerably more difficult.  Appropriate is not difficult to imagine — that might be the core of being less rigidly defined, in fact — but what/where is the space for influence?  In particular, where is the space for generative influence, an influence that gives more positive shape to the coming city?  Should that be abandoned as too hubristic?

Or does the infrastructure take various forms, reacting to the degree and kind of influence that is desirable?  More rigid, more generative in the portions of the city inhabited by those with the wealth, time, and ability to influence the placement of the infrastructure as it is designed, while more flexible, less controlled, placement and deployment driven more by the needs and whims of the inhabitants in the musseques?  This would suggest at least two cases: the musseques and the city-center (or ocean-side strip).

[1] An example:

“But the breakthrough came when he noticed that these self-organizations from the informal Alaba Market to the sea of informal traders around the trains and highways are completely dependent on the formal infrastructure of the modernist infrastructure of the 60’s and 70’s.”

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