“Civil world is the free play of forms-of-life; it is the principle of their coexistence” Tiqqun, Introduction to civil world

Intense migration flows witnessed recently in big cities has been challenging the traditional understanding of the political organization of human living in the urban realm. The unprecedented clash of different forms-of-life due to these changing conditions has established not only a new relationship between inhabitation and the city, but also a redefinition of the key agents in political terms. Latest social unrest in Islamic countries has shown us that contemporary society concerns are not discussed in the traditional parliaments or councils anymore, but in the public spaces of the city itself.

Following this principle, Inter Unit 8Politics of fabrication II understands that the coexistence of diverse and conflicting forms-of-life in the contemporary city needs to be readdressed and reframed in the urban ground itself. This implies a new spatial and physical layout of enabling the presence and frictional interaction/negotiation of these forms-of-life of those who share the city. The location chosen is the city of Miami, the major entry point for Latin American immigrants in the United States. In particular, the focus of students work has been the Little Havana neighborhood, for years the epicentre of the political expression of the dominant Cuban immigrants and the most multicultural neighborhoods in the city at the present. In this area a pervading logic of city space privatization has lead to an increasing tension between individuals and groups with different cultural, social, ethnic and economical backgrounds inhabiting the neighborhood. Exploring this particular matter, students have thought about the importance of public space as the necessary space of encounter, interaction and negotiation between these different ways of living now present in the city, and recovering its political value in a contemporary Latin-American metropolis.


Profile tutors

Francisco González de Canales Ruiz
He studied architecture at ESTA Seville, ETSA Barcelona and Harvard University, and worked for Foster + Partners and Rafael Moneo. An active architectural critic, he has previously lectured in England, México, Spain, and the USA, collaborated and worked in different architectural publications, and current AACP coordinator. He has recently completed his PhD on the radical domestic self-experimentations of the 1940s and 1950s. He teaches at the Architectural Association (Inter Unit 8 + MA History and Theory) and the University of Seville.

Nuria Álvarez Lombardero
She studied architecture at ETSA Madrid, an Mphil in ETSA Sevilla and an MA in Housing and Urbanism at the Architectural Association. She has worked for Machado and Silvetti Associates in Boston, and is part of Neutra Magazine editorial board. She has lectured in the University of Seville, ETSA Alcalá de Henares , ETSA Barcelona (UPC), University of Leuven and Architectural Association, and researched at Harvard University,University of Cambridge and the Architectural Association. She is finalishing her PhD on the dissolution of gendered bounderies traced by modern urban planning while teaching at the Architectural Association (Inter Unit 8) and Cambridge University.

Both Nuria and Francisco are the directors of Politics of Fabrication Lab AA Summer School that this year will stop in the University of Valparaiso, Chile.

Politics of Fabrication II

Challenging political expression in Little Havana, Miami

Inter 8 continues exploring the politics of today from its most basic manifestations
in the city, experimenting with new scenarios of political expression
in intentionally polemical locations. In today’s cities, where tourists
and natives, immigrants and citizens, temporary and life-long residents live
side by side, the traditional meaning of politics has changed. Consequently,
political representation does not seem to depend as much on constituencies,
but on direct, voluntary and unbinding associations among people
who assert their presence in the public arena. The unit posits the possibility
of redefining the political expression of the multitude as the making
visible of the relationship between everyday activities in public and the
particular material constructions that ultimately gives them political value.

This year the unit will be working on the Versailles Restaurant in the
Calle Ocho (SW 8 St.) of Little Havana, Miami. This has been the epicentre
of the political expression of Cuban exiles in the United States since 1971,
and manifests within its walls the invisible barriers that lie between Cuba
and the US. Students will analyse this building and the small public space
that sits in front and comprises invisible socio-political barriers into the
city. In doing so the unit will also explore the socio-cultural milieu in which
these are inscribed in order to redefine them within a sophisticated understanding
of politics today.

The year will begin with two small workshops in which students are
introduced to the political implications of architectural elements that are
used or seen in everyday life, such as the AA door entrance or the US
embassy perimeter in London. These architectural elements articulate the
relationship among different groups, such as Londoners and international
students, or between Britons and Americans.

Following this initial conceptual development, students are expected to
present their own critical arguments on the material articulation of the
changing associations of individuals within the public realm. After our site
visit to Little Havana, each student will propose a more specific urban
strategy for architectural systems able to articulate Cuban exiles and
Latinos´ associations with the city. Students will test the formal, programmatic,
atmospheric and constructive organisation of their design proposals
in relation to their arguments. Projects will address construction methods
that are able to be fabricated by the collective, relating the political expression
of the multitude with the fabrication level.