Author(s): Justin McGuirk
In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of activist architects, politicians and radical communities who have begun rebuilding and redesigning their environments in radically new ways. After decades of political and architectural failure, a new generation has returned to the problems of the city to address the poverty and inequality, testing new ideas that the rest of the world can learn from. An architect in Chile has designed a new form of social housing where only half of the house is built, allowing the owners to adapt the rest; squatters in Caracas have taken over a 45-story skyscraper, Torre David; and architect Jorge Mario Jauregui has upgraded Rio's favelas in exciting new ways.
"Provocative and beautifully crafted." Richard Sennett, author of Together "In this inspiring book, McGuirk goes right to the heart of the dilemmas facing architecture and cities today. With its powerful prose and deep insights, Radical Cities reboots the potential of architecture to have social and political meaning, taking us through an unforgettable journey through the contested spaces of Latin America urbanism." Ricky Burdett, Director LSE Cities "In his fine and timely book Radical Cities, the British writer and curator Justin McGuirk takes a road trip to seek out not only the problems caused by rapid growth but also the most radical and influential ideas to have emerged in response over the past couple of decades ... an intriguing picture of an activist urbanism and architecture that has made a real difference." Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times "A series of remarkable interventions across Latin America that seek to align architecture, planning, and infrastructure with the needs of disenfranchised people who seek to live in decent, democratic, and functional environments." Michael Sorkin, author of All Over The Map "Makes the case for action in cities once again. This book is a generational call written without easy utopianism or fatal disillusionment about a new social consciousness in architecture and urban design." Pier Vittorio Aureli, architect "Clear headed, elegantly written, carefully observed, the book introduces us to flamboyant mooning mayors and revolutionary theme park builders. We follow McGuirk through the dark stairwells of Caracas's squatted skyscraper, and the cable cars dangling above Rio's favelas." Deyan Sudjic, Director Design Museum "Writing with verve and purpose, McGuirk explores how a new generation is developing strategies to build equitable communities in Latin America." Publisher's Weekly "In his fine and timely book Radical Cities, the British writer and curator Justin McGuirk takes a road trip to seek out not only the problems caused by rapid growth but also the most radical and influential ideas to have emerged in response over the past couple of decades... an intriguing picture of an activist urbanism and architecture that has made a real difference." Financial Times "Radical Cities is an exhilarating tour of the continent - a collection of stories that demonstrates great ingenuity in the harshest of circumstances." Icon Magazine "The whole world over people move from the countryside into the city, but nowhere is this movement and its consequences so dramatic as in Latin America... The architecture critic Justin McGuirk travelled the continent and spoke with architects, politicians and campaign groups to try to understand how to respond to this threatening phenomenon. Radical Cities is the name of his book in which, with bitter irony, he first establishes that it is precisely in Latin America, where architects such as Oscar Niemeyer realised social-utopian architecture more than anywhere else, that the models of social building failed. And yet McGuirk is neither fatalist, nor dreamer. He points out problems, but also describes some fascinating approaches to try to mitigate them." Hans Ulrich Obrist "Justin McGuirk's fascinating study shows that Latin American cities have much to teach the world's architects." Observer " Radical Cities is a fast-paced journey across the region's cities where the author meets the people who are moulding social change in suburbs across Latin America. ... A real strength of McGuirk's analysis is its contextual and historical sensitivity, which takes into account the unique circumstances of each country, city and community ... For those of us disillusioned by the current social housing ... The lesson to be learned is the need to bring creativity and innovation to address the challenges of our cities." - Danielle House, Latin America Bureau
JUSTIN MCGUIRK is a writer and curator, and is the Guardian's design columnist and the editor of Icon magazine. He is also the director of Strelka Press and the design consultant to Domus, and his writing has appeared in The Observer, The Times, Disegno, Art Review, Conde Nast Traveller, Form, The Architects Journal, Architecture d'Aujourd'hui. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban-Think Tank.