Radical Cities

Radical Cities:Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture

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“An intriguing picture of an activist urbanism and architecture that has made a real difference.” —Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times

What makes the city of the future? How do you heal a divided city?

In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions. From Brazil to Venezuela, and from Mexico to Argentina, McGuirk discovers the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving.

Ever since the mid twentieth century, when the dream of modernist utopia went to Latin America to die, the continent has been a testing ground for exciting new conceptions of the city. An architect in Chile has designed a form of social housing where only half of the house is built, allowing the owners to adapt the rest; Medellín, formerly the world’s murder capital, has been transformed with innovative public architecture; squatters in Caracas have taken over the forty-five-story Torre David skyscraper; and Rio is on a mission to incorporate its favelas into the rest of the city.

Here, in the most urbanised continent on the planet, extreme cities have bred extreme conditions, from vast housing estates to sprawling slums. But after decades of social and political failure, a new generation has revitalised architecture and urban design in order to address persistent poverty and inequality. Together, these activists, pragmatists and social idealists are performing bold experiments that the rest of the world may learn from.

Radical Cities is a colorful journey through Latin America—a crucible of architectural and urban innovation.

Reviews

  • 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 HeathcoteFinancial Times