Vila Autódromo in Rio de Janeiro: The big, the bad, the ugly

Picture 1by Daniel Wagner

The scenery: a wild and isolated lagoon about 40km west from the centre of Rio de Janeiro. This was what the first dwellers of the favela “Vila Autódromo” encountered when they first settled in the region about 40 years ago. Back then, far away from the urbanization, the community lived without many problems on this Rio da Janeiro’s wild west. Mostly fishermen, dwellers of the Vila Autódromo manage for decades to healthily coexist with the neighbour motor racing circuit built at their side, where the Brazilian Formula 1 Grand Prix took place until 1989.

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LECTURE ANNOUNCEMENT: DEBT CRISIS AND LAND DISPOSSESSION IN GREECE AS PART OF THE GLOBAL “LAND FEVER”

Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis

Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis

Prof. Costis Hadjimichalis, (Department of Geography, Harokopio University Athens)

Monday, 22nd June 2015, 6 PM

Think & Drink Colloquium, Humboldt University, Berlin

Room 002: Universitäts Strasse 3b, 10117 Berlin

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LECTURE: The exploitation of land, but also of natural elements linked to it ―such as water, forests, landscape, the subsurface and biodiversity― nowadays comprise investment targets for local and international speculative capital at some unprecedented extent, intensity and geographical spread. From 2009 on, Greece became a target country due to the current debt crisis which has decisively contributed to the devalorization/depreciation of the exchange value of land, decreasing monetary values by 15-30%―depending on the area―when compared to the 2005 prices. The special legal status imposed by the Troika as of 2010, forms a lucrative environment for speculators-investors, dramatically altering the legal, constitutional order and imposing something of a semi-protectorate status upon the country. This short presentation, based on author’s book, explains how the debt crisis in Greece made public land via privatizations and fire sales a major target for dispossession by global and local capital. Continue reading

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YOUNG BERLINERS TAKE IN REFUGEES

”Refugees Welcome”- Initiator Jonas Kakoschke and Bakary Konan in their kitchen. Credits: Der Tagesspiegel

”Refugees Welcome”- Initiator Jonas Kakoschke and Bakary Konan in their kitchen. Credits: Der Tagesspiegel

by Hagia Jany

Among the countless refugee initiatives, there is one which has frequently come across my path in recent times: The initiative “Refugees Welcome” which asks the uncomfortable question, why refugees just can’t live in normal housing situations instead of mass accommodation. After I bumped into a presentation of the project on a little festival a few weeks ago, I took a closer look at that inspiring project.

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URBAN PLANNING WITH LEGOS? OLAFUR ELIASSON MAY HAVE A POINT

Olafur Eliasson, The collectivity project, 2015. (Timothy Schenck/Friends of the High Line)

Olafur Eliasson, The collectivity project, 2015. (Timothy Schenck/Friends of the High Line)

by Ares Kalandides

Oh no, not yet another artist playing at being a planner –  was my first thought, when I stumbled upon the Wall Street Journal headline this morning:”Artist Urges Urban Planning, With Legos”. Of course it was not just some artist – it was Olafur Eliasson, whom I respect and admire. And despite the WSJ heading it was not urban planning – it was art. In cooperation with the High Line in New York, Olafur Eliasson invited passers-by to play with the million white plastic bricks of legos and assemble with him their own utopian buildings, in an interactive art installation called The Collectivity Project. The artist had invited several well-know architecture studios (including Renzo Piano) to start the game with their own buildings. From there, visitors would take over, deconstructing and reassembling. Continue reading

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WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PHOTO OF ENGLISH TOURISTS AND REFUGEES? EVERYTHING.

Bildschirmfoto 2015-05-29 um 17.48.49by Ares Kalandides

The above photo and headline appeared in the Daily Mail on May 27th 2015 causing an understandable uproar. A Greek site retorted almost instantly with an entry titled “Brits turn Greek island into disgusting hellhole for refugees” and the path was set for a dirty name-calling war. The photo shows “Anne Servante, a nurse from Manchester, [who] had come to Kos expecting a relaxing break with her husband Tony, a retired plumber.” What she finds instead are “penniless migrants who are in Greece to claim asylum sit outside their restaurant and watch them eat”, turning her “summer break […] into a ‘nightmare'”. Continue reading

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ON THE CREATIVE QUESTION | MANIFESTO BY GEERT LOVINK, SEBASTIAN OLMA & NED ROSSITER

Shoreditch & Hoxton Aug'14 (Renard Teipelke) 2On the Creative Question – Nine Theses*

By Geert Lovink, Sebastian Olma and Ned Rossiter

‘Culture attracts the worst impulses of the moneyed, it has no honor, it begs to be suburbanized and corrupted’. ― Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars’. ― Oscar Wilde

1. Goodbye to Creative Industries

A creepy discourse on creativity has captured cultural and economic policy. Creativity invokes a certain pharmacological numbness among its spruikers – a special sub-species entirely unaware of how far removed their version of creativity is from radical invention and social transformation. Their claims around the science of economy are little more than a shoddy con. While ‘creativity’ is increasingly seen as a main driver of economic development, the permanent reference to creative classes, creative cities, creative industries, creative innovations and so on has rendered the notion all but meaningless. Degraded to a commercial and political marketing tool, the semantic content of creativity has been reduced to an insipid spread of happy homogeneity – including the right amount of TED-styled fringe misfits and subcultures – that can be bureaucratically regulated and ‘valorized’. To this rhetoric corresponds a catalogue of ‘sectors’ and ‘clusters’ labelled as creative industries: a radically disciplined and ordered subdomain of the economy, a domesticated creative commons where ‘innovators’ and ‘creatives’ harmoniously co-mingle and develop their auto-predictive ‘disruptions’ of self-quantification, sharing and gamification. Conflict is anathema to the delicate sensibilities of personas trading in creative consultancy.

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Lessons Learned on How Singapore Got It Right

2014_11_19_Singapur-Trip - Marina Bay (18) PP Best Of

By Renard Teipelke

After I visited the city-state Singapore in November 2014, I wanted to write a blog article about my impressions from extensively walking and experiencing the city. I am not residing there, but at least I took what others consider an extremely long ten days to learn about how the city developed over the past century (check out the Singapore City Gallery). Before I came to Singapore, I only heard very good or very bad comments, ranging from ‘sustainable urbanism par excellence’ to ‘non-democratic techno-regime’. Equipped with a strong practitioner’s interest and a critical geography background, I ended up being puzzled by how much Singapore got right. I could simply not believe in how far this city-state has actually realized/implemented all those recommendations on resource-efficient, equitable, sustainable, livable, creative, effective, smart, x-y-z (…) urban development. While concepts for good or ‘the best’ urban development are always debated, very often they aim at improving life in a particular city to some degree, i.e. technocratic ideals of hyper-smart cities will probably end up in an Orwellian state; however, a somewhat smarter city can improve quality of life for its residents and visitors in comparison to technology-poor cities. Continue reading

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KIOSKS AND PUBLIC SQUARES IN LISBON

DSCN1318

by Ares Kalandides

Sidewalk cafés are generally a delight. They liven up public space, they become meeting places and places of exchange – indeed, they seem the quintessence of urbanity.  Nevertheless, the anarchic invasion of public spaces by tables and chairs can be the exact opposite: they may be taking much needed space from pedestrians, reducing pavements into narrow strips where a person on foot (let alone a wheel-chair or a pram)  can hardly pass through. How do we reconcile the two, then?  Lisbon may be showing the way. Continue reading

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WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? FOSTERING EQUITABLE URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH IN BERLIN

Folie01by Ares Kalandides

On May 7th, 2015, I had the opportunity to open the Berlin-Sydney online dialogue with a short presentation, followed by a Q&A session about urban development in Berlin. The event was coordinated between the Committee for Sydney on the one hand, Berlin’s Senate Chancellery (The Mayor’s Office) and Berlin Partners on the other. Here is the abstract of my short presentation:

“Berlin today is considered one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. With a lively cultural and creative scene, a vibrant business start-up activity, and high quality of life – Berlin attracts people from the whole world, who want to participate in this energy.

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IS THE UNDERGROUND A CONCEPT OF THE PAST? THE BRAZILIAN URBAN PLANNER JAIME LERNER CERTAINLY THINKS SO

By Pedro Felipe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

A TransMilenio bus in Av. Caracas in Bogotá. Photo by Pedro Felipe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

By Ares Kalandides

In an interview for the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo – the Brazilian architect and urban planner Jaime Lerner, three times mayor of Curitiba and former governor of the State of Parana, Brazil – talked about cities and public transportation. Lerner, to whom UN granted the Maximum Environmental Award,  suggested that Bogotá should not build an underground (Metro) because as a means of transportation it “is a thing of the past.”

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