Politics of the Barter Block – Ex8 Brief 2019-20

A network of home-swapping in Havana grid

“In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no grandeur to be won, inasmuch as there all is an established hierarchy, the unknown is revealed, existence is infinite, there is no possibility of sacrifice, all is rest and joy. For this reason, bowed down by suffering and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions and trials, man finds his greatness, his fullest measure, only in the Kingdom of this World”
Alejo Carpentier, “The Kingdom of this World”

In Havana, more than fifty years of economic embargo makes any heroism to fade away into an agonic expression of survival at the outskirts of hegemonic globalisation. However, although peripheral, Havana also demonstrates its otherness within the global status quo -a different vantage point from which to redefine the Western capitalist idea of the contemporary city. From this alternative context, Experimental Unit 8 will speculate on new temporary housing models by revisiting Cuban tradition of home-swapping. Framed as a timely opportunity to discuss contemporary collective domestic models, the unit will question not only how different intensities and times of usage can reshape the arrangement of the domestic realm, but also how distinct articulations of spatial qualities can permit flexibility over long term constraints; such as material, climate and scale. Adopting a collective perspective, the block is understood as the basic unit to provide interpersonal relations between temporary occupants.

In order to explore these ideas, students will work in an area of approximately 100×100 metres, consistent with base dimensions of Havana’s urban grids. These interventions will redensify, infiltrate and rearticulate independent blocks of the city to feed a speculative network of home-swapping. They will act as architectures awaiting to be appropriated, as well as negotiating relations at both a micro and macro scale. As a unit, we will continue our interests in the architectural form and its ability to articulate relationships and how form resilience can be supported by a locally driven materialization seeking more sustainable long-term construction approaches.

Image Caption: 2018-19  Experimental Unit 8 Graphic Diary

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