Although we would hope that all societies are in agreement that systems which perpetuate inequality are abjectly fraud, we still see persistent evidence that certain groups in contemporary society are excluded from the opportunities in urban life. There is also a greater awareness that exclusionary practices are often buried beneath formal rhetoric within institutionalized settings and superficial media coverage. We are all familiar with political statements flowing from G20, UN, IMF or Climate Change discussions, but upon closer look, we realize that bureaucracies and corporations use such declarations to delay real change or blatantly hide malpractice in the shadow of talking heads posturing through the media.
With the quasi-privatization of infrastructural and logistical systems and the increased mobility of communities, we see evidence of a greater tension between those who experience a sense of belonging and those who feel excluded. At the same time, there is a clear inability of bureaucracies and formal institutions to respond to an increased claim for a right to the opportunities offered in urban life that manifest as mismanaged disasters, homelessness, racism, inequality in education and high levels of incarceration – among other concerns. Groups such as Anonymous and Doctors Without Borders are responding where governments fail in absence. Informal networks of trust are entrepreneurial and pro-active where larger corporations lack either the necessary agility or the will to accept responsibility.
The concerns raised here can be interrogated and explored through a single question: Can revised spatial constructs in the urban field disrupt power relations in a productive and meaningful way? Moreover, is it possible to insert new formats and regimes of opportunity where belonging and access to such opportunities are the negotiating framework towards greater equality?
The project work will begin to explore the answers to these questions without attempting to fixate on a single architectural solution. This work also aims to make the question and speculative propositions visible.