Wednesday, 1 July 2015

radical cities (justin mcguirk)

What does architecture have to do with politics? Why is Latin America at the vanguard of post-Fukuyama history? What might the future look like? McGuirk addresses all of these issues in a fluent analysis of contemporary architectural practice in various Latin countries. The book would appear to have been assembled from half a dozen essays, occasionally giving it a slightly homespun, bricolage effect, but this is in complete keeping with the subject matter. The beauty of Radical Cities is the way in which the issues it addresses are so much broader than its apparent brief. As the title suggests, this is a book about the structure of cities, but it's also an urgent investigation into how the urbanised human race might continue to co-exist in a far from egalitarian world. The notion that the space you inhabit affects not just your happiness but also your ethical perspective is effectively made. Furthermore, the book incorporates an implicit commentary on the fate of European architecture in the 21st century, where the profession has become an exercise in marshalling glass and steel for the benefit of wealth production. The idea that it is also an art/profession that might have a positive social impact has been marginalised by the pseudo-Egyptian megastars whose banal vision would appear to be homogenising cityscapes around the world, eradicating difference. Although it may be that this opinion is provoked to an extent by the fact that I find myself writing this in a cafe in the shade of London's Liverpool Street, rather than Ciudad Vieja, Montevideo. 

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