the favelas of Kabul…

Low income housing spreads into the hills on the outskirts of Kabul, photographed on October 4, 2012. According to the World Bank more than a third of the population of Afghanistan lives below the poverty line, and more than half are vulnerable and at serious risk of falling into poverty. (Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images)

When I saw this photo, it made me think about the idea of favela chic and examinations of the informal city in Latin America. Has anyone applied the concept to Afghanistan? Or to put it another way, what can the “informal housing” of modern day Kabul tell us about future contemporary urbanism(s)? Why so much focus on the examples from South America or Mumbai. Sure, I knew Kabul as the/some sort of secure(d), post-conflict, narco-ville, but what else…

One paper by Peter Gotsch, I came across suggested some possibilities. It spoke of the “migrational landscapes” of Kabul and “camp architecture”, “informal settlements” and “container or villa architecture”.

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AnthroFuturism, Surrealism as applied to our contemporary virtual reality and Sim Van der Ryn

Via Volume’s blog which I have been so busy I have forgotten to check in on in 2011 a couple of thought provoking posts and interviews in relation to ‘Volume #24: Counterculture’.

In Extracultural Steven Mizrach writes about how in 21st century, counterculture has shifted in attitude from it’s earlier late 20th century incarnations. For in it’s newer forms (ravers, cypherpunks, modern primitives etc) contemporary counterculture “embraces synthesis“and “Today’s post-millennial countercultures work to universalize the hacker ethic and to liberate information access“.

In Technological (Sur)realism which features excerpts from an interview Jeroen Beekmans conducted with Neil Spiller. The discussion centered on Spiller’s work which focuses on “the spatial protocols of Surrealism as a way of finding methods to  expand aspirations and knowledge of the digital world.”

Finally, Sim van der Ryn was Interviewed by Jeffrey Inaba. Sim Van der Ryn founded the Farallones Institute which started the first research into ecologically integrated living design and later founded the Ecological Design Institute (EDI), which carries on this work. He has been a member of the architecture faculty at Berkeley since the 60s and early in his career did some of the first research into what is now called post-occupancy studies and  participatory planning, through looking at things like Berkeley’s Peoples Park. He later went on to serve as the official State Architect under Governor Jerry Brown and continues to this day to practice and lead in the field(s) of ecological design through his firm Sim Van der Ryn.

the essential twelve steps to becoming an unsolicited architect

First introduced in issue 14 of Volume and summarized Via Volume’s blog (here)

1) Don’t wait for the phone to ring. Architects act now.

2) Pose a problem. It’s the best solution.

3) Become the expert. Knowledge is.

4) Write your own brief. You answer to no body.

5) Design the answer. It may not be a building.

6) Run the numbers. Win in the end.

7) Get yourself together. Pool talent.

8) Find the loophole.

9) Assemble your argument. Biased advice is best.

10) Build public support. Demonstrate the urgency.

11) Solicit your future client. (You now hold all the answers)

12) Return to step two.

Hat Tip Quilian