This symposium, curated by Felipe Correa, Assistant Professor of Urban Design and Ana Maria Duran, Loeb Fellow '11, looks at the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA) as a point of departure for an ample discussion regarding the diverse models of urbanism that emerge at the intersection of resource extraction and regional integration projects (primarily through mobility corridors).
Initiated by former Brazilian president Fernando Enrique Cardoso in 2000 and rapidly endorsed by the eleven other South American nations, IIRSA—a comprehensive energy, transport, and communications network —is the most aggressive transcontinental integration project ever planned for South America. Through the systematic deployment of ten east-west infrastructural corridors, the initiative is sidelining the Americas' time-honored north-south axis—exemplified by the Pan-American Highway—to provide Brazil, which occupies almost 50% of South America's surface, access to ports along the Pacific and to give its flourishing economy stronger trading ties with Asia, while providing means of entering to remote regions that have untapped surface and subsurface natural resources. With a projected investment surpassing US$83 billion in June 2010, a total projected investment of $96 billion, and an expansive portfolio of projects (10% are completed, and over 33% are under construction), the scope and ambition of IIRSA is having an unprecedented effect in reconfiguring the urban and rural dynamics of the South American hinterland.
The ultimate objective of the symposium is to shed light on alternative physical, operative and experiential identities for the South American hinterland and search for models of urbanization that go beyond purely utilitarian resource extraction and the deployment of mono-functional infrastructure, casting new light on well tempered models of urbanization that can spin off from such a vast continental undertaking.