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(22-23) Buenos Aires UNLOCKED

Buenos Aires UNLOCKED The Territory, the Port and the City: South Dock and Flammable Slum

by Cecilia Chiappini

Master studio 2022-2023, Semester 3
Engagement: Urban Cultures
Location: Brussels – Language: English

Faculty of Architecture, Campus Sint-Lucas Brussels, KU Leuven

(Preliminary Brief – 5th September 2022)



Topic: The design studio focuses on the role of transforming infrastructure as trigger of urban spaces where unexpected relations can happen.1 Here, urban processes articulate at different levels: symbolic, physical and socially, constantly under tension and generating intermediate conditions.2 Tackling this complexity provides new tools to rethink and redesign the city at multiple scales.

Method: During an intensive research-design studio, students discuss conceptual issues,3 develop and test exploratory tools to address the issues at stake, especially looking at the dimensions of “expectations, materialisations and appropriations”, and how when put under tension, they generate conditions of “inter-temporalities, inter-spatialities and inter-territorialities”.4 The dimensions are explored by means of a “learning from… approach”.5 Tensions leading to intermediate conditions are the base for bridging research and design, in this case by delineating scenarios, visions and positions that launch design explorations (at architectural, urban and territorial scales, simultaneously).

Site: Students produce an architectural-urban design-case proposal based on their inquiries on a large area and the identification of a specific location.

In line with past editions, the studio will look at the port area of Buenos Aires. Mainly paying attention to the differences of the areas surrounding the North (rich) and South (poor) Docks.

This semester’s larger focus area is the South stretch of Buenos Aires Port, known as the South Dock, and the specific location is the slum called, in English, Flammable Slum (“Villa Infamable”) including the south connection to the territory towards La Plata City.

The critical components here is the fact that the highly contaminated area where the slum is situated constitutes part of a buffer zone between landscape, port, the city of Buenos Aires. Moreover, high availability of land for potential urban uses (currently affected to transit, industrial and harbor- related uses) gets “unlocked” by operations at the infrastructural level such as the rearrangement of the South-North road corridor, “Paseo del Bajo”.

Furthermore, the site is located at the frindge between city and territory, and therefore allows further investigation on the territorial relationships around the Paraná- La Plata river delta and the transnational corridors with Paraguay and Brazil, and with Uruguay and Chile.

  • This is part of the design studio series lead by Dr. Cecilia Chiappini talking different cases in time: Brussels (2015-2017), Barcelona (2017-2019) and Buenos Aires (since 2019, in explicit connection to Asiya Sadiq, Martine de Maeseneer, and Caroline Newton cases). See: Faculty blog archive.
  • See, CHIAPPINI, M. C. (2021) “Infrastructure under Transformation as Spaces of Colllectivities. Glòries, Barcelona, Spain”; Brussels: KU Leuven (doctoral thesis).
  • Main conceptual references are: EASTERLING, K. [2014]. Extrastatecraf. The power of infrastructure space. Verso, New York, London. 2016. Available at: http://kellereasterling.com. Chapters: 1, 2, 3, And DE LANDA, M. (2000). 1000 of non linear history. New York: Swerve Editions.
  • Extended definitions provided at introductory lectures and available at doctoral
  • Inspired by Learning from Las Vegas, Made in Tokyo and Building Brazil Books Series. Main methodological references are: CHIAPPINI, María Cecilia; Hehl, Rainer; Thomidou, Alkistis, “Cidade de Deus +20 Projecting alternative futures” publisher: Ruby Press Cidade de Deus – City of God. Working with Informalized Mass Housing in Brazil, pag.: 152 – 165. ANGÉLIL M. (Ed.) (2016). Infrastructure Space. Berlin: Ruby Press. SCOTT BROWN, “On Formal Analysis as Research” In: JAE, Vol. 32, No. 4, Search/Research, 1979 LEVITT, William. “Levittown 1947-1951” in Venturi, Schott, Brown and Associates Learning from Levittown. 1972 and NANGO, Yoshikazu. “The Behaviour that Atelier Bow Wow Call Research. Made in Tokyo: a research prototype”. (www.bow-wow.jp, archinect.com/features/article/56468/atelier-bow-wow-tokyo-anatomy, urban-sprouts. blogspot.com, ar/2010_09_01_archive.html)

Please read the full studio description here (pdf).

Image: Anneleen Brandt & Sébastien Ronchetti, 2019