Thesis Defence: Taylor DaveyExport this event to calendar

Wednesday, April 6, 2016 — 9:30 AM EDT

Of the thesis entitled: Ideologies of Medellín’s Miracle: A critique of architecture’s new utopia

Abstract:

Once considered the most violent city in the world, the city of Medellín, Colombia has more recently received global notoriety as a model of architecture and urban planning for social development. This notoriety originates with the city’s Social Urbanism programme (2004–2011): a developmental model positioned on ideas of social inclusion through territorial, aesthetic, and symbolic strategies of transformation. During the administrative terms of Sergio Fajardo and Alonso Salazar (both members of the new Left party Cultura Ciudadana) an impressive number of aesthetic buildings and public spaces were built in informal communities across the urban periphery, in a political climate praised for its inclusive strategies of development. “The most beautiful for the most humble,” was Fajardo’s famous adage.

Since this period, Medellín has continued to receive significant notoriety. Medellín was named “Innovative City of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal and CitiBank in 2013, and was host to UN- Habitat’s World Urban Forum 7 (2014) entitled “Urban Equity in Development.” However, development in the city has recently departed from the Social Urbanism model, transitioning from small scale architecture and public space as points of community intervention, to the implementation of large-scale urban development projects that bear significant resemblance to more conventional Neoliberal models of urban restructuring. At the same time, evidence of chronic violence and forced displacement are raising questions about what current development might hide about everyday realities in its production of a new Global city.

Many critics concerned with this new direction identify a break in priorities and strategies between the administrative era of the Cultura Ciudadana and the current administration; however, a more critical investigation into the actors and stakeholders involved in Medellín’s recovery process reveal the way by which today’s development might actually be a logical and intended outcome of the success of Social Urbanism. This analysis requires a broadening of the political and historical analysis, to investigate the dynamics of local power that extend through the 20th century. It also requires a critical investigation of Social Urbanism as a programme that, while perhaps possessing some transformative and dignifying agency at the local scale, was treated as an iconic spatial “object” that produced a very specific meaning for the city both locally and globally through aesthetic strategies.

Founded on Henri Lefebvre’s idea of social space as being actively produced, the thesis investigates to what degree Social Urbanism could be seen as a socially-transformative and political project based on the actors involved and the distribution (or centralization) of power in its recovery process. By framing the city’s urban development as the product of a much longer transformation – articulated by underlying social, political, and economic conditions of production – it seeks a more critical understanding of the way Social Urbanism’s urban spaces have actually affected everyday life in the city.
 
The examining committee is as follows:
 

Supervisor:

Committee Members:

Adrian Blackwell, University of Waterloo

Lola Sheppard, University of Waterloo

Rick Haldenby, University of Waterloo
  

External Reader:

Sue Ruddick, University of Toronto

 


The committee has been approved as authorized by the Graduate Studies Committee.

The Defence Examination will take place:  

Wednesday April 6, 2016
9:30AM

ARC Loft

A copy of the thesis is available for perusal in ARC 2106A.

Location 
ARC - School of Architecture
Architecture Loft
7 Melville Street South

Cambridge, ON N1S 2H4
Canada

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