Schaduwsteden

Hieronder hebben we een stukje geknipt en geplakt uit een langer interview met architect Wes Janz over braakliggende terreinen en zelfbouwwoningen, over de keerzijde van krottenwijken, over gekraakte ruimte en de steden van morgen. Boeiende lectuur, te vinden op het Archinect blog.

The notion of “leftover space” has always been of great interest to architects, but in the context of global urbanization it conjures a particularly visceral response. Leftover space ”in the sense of being ghettoized and depicting a sort of bare essentiality of being in architecture” is not always easy to look at much less understand, especially for a profession whose responsibility is designing the structures that people will inhabit. For the most part, the issue of global poverty is translated through viral images of shanties infecting the landscape, peripheral slums leaching off the urban core, and pictures that instill fear of an assailant rise of diseased squatter cities. This not only demonizes the third world, it painfully reminds us of our own failures to address the infrastructural necessities of millions. However, these images narrate only part of the story for those who go on sifting through the remains of an urban evolution which has long since abandoned them.

Wes Janz, an architect teaching at Ball State University in Indiana, wants to show how these scavenged places are also claimed by incredible human spirit. His book, One Small Project, is a powerful portrait of the millions of people who have used their own architectural ingenuity and unrelenting pride to construct for themselves a place to call home, despite some of the worst living conditions on the planet today. I spoke with Wes about his work as an architect and an educator, his book project, and what we have to learn from these informal pioneers of global urbanism.

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