The Activist ContinentJustin McGuirk
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The Activist Continent is a book about a journey across Latin America in search of a social architecture. It begins with a simple premise: that in recent years South America has produced a new breed of architect motivated by improving the quality of life of the poorest. The "activist architect" doesn't wait for a client to phone up with a commission, but creates the conditions in which a meaningful intervention can be made. Looking in detail at the work of architects such as Alejandro Aravena in Chile, Urban Think Tank in Venezuela and Jorge Mario Jauregui in Brazil, the project explores a radical and conscientious new form of practice. Along the way he goes in search of their predecessors, from modernists building social housing to rebels who rejected architectural norms. From these roots, McGuirk sets up an opposition between modernism and activism — between the utopian and the pragmatic.
Justin McGuirk is a writer, critic and curator based in London. He is the director of Strelka Press, the publishing arm of the Strelka Institute in Moscow, and the design consultant to Domus. He has been the design columnist for The Guardian and the editor of Icon magazine. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. He is currently working on a book about activist architecture and social housing in Latin America.
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