Five things (and a series of comments on liberal space, the demise of the square, and alternatives for its substitution)
Liberal space, the demise of the square, and alternatives for its substitution
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
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Few histories have defined contemporary cities as much as liberalism' betrayal of public space. In this history, few chapters have been as regrettable as the castration of the public square. When it was only a fragile project, liberalism was nursed by the rich and diverse social life of public places. The square was a quintessential symbol of this condition: a place open socially and physically, a stage for regulated flirtation and proscribed desires, a dwelling for market activities and political discussion. A space, in sum, pregnant with the possibilities to recognize (practically if not consciously), the link between formal politics -that of the crown, the congress and the ballot, and the more pervasive register of the political -the inherent power dynamics governing everyday human experience. After liberal hegemony, the square has been fattened and stupefied, and its programmatic independence compromised by its use as an open-air frame for official buildings, condemned to glorify officials from the same political regime that betrayed it. The social and plurality of squares has disappeared, and is nowhere to be found in the new areas with which liberalism has stuffed the public sphere: shards that are socially subservient consumable are just as accessible as they barren, and consumption zones to a bland, pre-packaged and forms of diversity. Against this backdrop, this thesis experiments with conceptual designs of public sociability spaces in five different coordinates of the representative democratic world: Sao Paulo (Brazil),Tixtla (Mexico), Hénin-Beaumont (France), Madrid, (Spain), and Sanford (United States). Each of this cities carries an emblematic place emblematic of contemporary public homogenization processes that was chosen as the specific site of these efforts. The resulting proposals do not aspire to become self-referential objects, but relational things. Their projectivity seeks to be completed via their friction between their physicality and the programmatic imagination of those choosing to become present in them, be them political activists, teenage lovers, or Mormon preachers. In sum, they aspire to become instigators of discussions related to the role that architecture can play for a form of social imagination anchored in the recognition of otherness rather than of social singularity.
Thesis: M. Arch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Architecture, 2018.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 132-133).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Architecture.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology