Housing in Nicaragua – Radicalizing the Local: The Neighborhood as Political Unit

This course has an irregular schedule. Please see below.Studio Overview1. Zones of ConflictThe changing of geo-political boundaries across continents and the unprecedented shifting of socio-cultural demographics produced by the ongoing explosion of urbanization across the world generate new conditions that call into question traditional methods of artistic and architectural intervention in the city. As world wide migration of people across borders moves the diasporas of Latin America, Asia and Africa searching for the strong economies of the Northern Hemisphere (settling primarily in the United States and Europe), the politics of outsourcing move the main centers of production in the opposite direction, searching for the cheap labors markets of the Southern hemisphere. These intensified geo-economic and political dynamics begin to foreground once more the tensions between top down totalizing institutions of land use and economic development at the scale of the metropolitan, on one hand, and bottom up agencies of social activism at the scale of the neighborhood, on the other.The complexity of these social, political and economic forces continues to generate global and local zones of conflict, where the drama of these collisions is magnified. These transform the territory, the city and the neighborhood as sites of contestation where different conditions of power are inscribed, at odds with one another. It is ultimately in the contemporary city where the current politics and economics of privatization and control, labor and immigration are manifested physically, dividing it between enclaves of mega wealth and sectors of marginality. 2. The Neighborhood as Political UnitAbove all, these multiple forces of division at play across the globe and in the contemporary city are producing a crisis of both housing affordability and social and public infrastructure. In other words, current, top down economic and political agendas are engendering socio-economic inequalities across communities that our institutions of architectural theory and practice continue to ignore. This crisis is exacerbated as official hyper development in the contemporary city continues to be at odds with the unofficial, micro political and economic informalities defining many neighborhoods worldwide.This studio will primarily engage the micro scale of the neighborhood, transforming it into the urban laboratory of the 21st century. The micro heterotopias that are emerging within small communities across the city, in the form of non-conforming spatial and entrepreneurial practices, are defining a different idea of density and land use, setting forth a counter form of urban and economic development that thrives on social encounter, collaboration and exchange. In this context, can architects rethink political and economic systems in the context of these emergent urban conditions? Can architects design collaboration and participation across agencies and institutions? Can conflict become an operational device to redefine practices of intervention in the city? Can we redefine the meaning of globalization by radicalizing the local? By reflecting over many of these questions, this studio will reopen the potential of the fringes, the marginal, as the alternative site for producing fresh perspectives and procedures that can close the gap between social responsibility and artistic experimentation.3. Nicaragua — Not China nor The Arab Emirates– A Site of Experimentation?Sweeping neo-liberalist economic policies of privatization and homogenization worldwide are producing sectors of resistance to \”American Style\” globalization from the Middle East to South America. Along the newly reconstituted global border that this post 9-11 world has produced between the first and third worlds, we are witnessing how societies of overproductio