In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions. From Brazil to Venezuela, and from Mexico to Argentina, McGuirk discovers the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving.
Ever since the mid twentieth century, when the dream of modernist utopia went to Latin America to die, the continent has been a testing ground for exciting new conceptions of the city. An architect in Chile has designed a form of social housing where only half of the house is built, allowing the owners to adapt the rest; Medillín, formerly the world’s murder capital, has been transformed with innovative public architecture; squatters in Caracas have taken over the forty-five-storey Torre David skyscraper; and Rio is on a mission to incorporate its favelas into the rest of the city.
Here, in the most urbanized continent on the planet, extreme cities have bred extreme conditions, from vast housing estates to sprawling slums. But after decades of social and political failure, a new generation has revitalized architecture and urban design in order to address persistent poverty and inequality. Together, these activists, pragmatists and social idealists are performing bold experiments that the rest of the world may learn from.
"In this inspiring book, McGuirk goes right to the heart of the dilemmas facing architecture and cities today. With its powerful prose and deep insights, Radical Cities reboots the potential of architecture to have social and political meaning, taking us on an unforgettable journey through the contested spaces of Latin America urbanism." —Ricky Burdett, Director LSE Cities
"A series of remarkable interventions across Latin America that seek to align architecture, planning, and infrastructure with the needs of disenfranchised people who seek to live in decent, democratic, and functional environments."—Michael Sorkin, author of All Over the Map
"Makes the case for action in the cities once again. This book is a generational call written without easy utopianism or fatal disillusionment about a new social consciousness in architecture and urban design."—Pier Vittorio Aureli, architect
"Clear-headed, elegantly written, carefully observed, the book introduces us to flamboyant mooning mayors and revolutionary theme park builders. We follow McGuirk through the dark stairwells of Caracas’s squatted skyscraper, and the cable cars dangling above Rio’s favelas." —Deyan Sudjic,
Justin McGuirk is a writer and curator, and has worked as the Guardian's design columnist and the editor of Icon magazine. He is also the director of Strelka Press and the design consultant to Domus, and his writing has appeared in the Observer, the Times, Disegno, Art Review, Condé Nast Traveller, Form, the Architects Journal, Architecture d'Aujourd'hui. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. He is the incoming Chief Curator of the Design Museum in London.