Accepted Paper:

Hand made urbanism: urbanizing the experiment  


Adolfo Estalella (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)

Paper short abstract:

Hand made urbanism is a collaborative practice for the construction of mundane infrastructures in the public space. It establishes the conditions for redistributing the capabilities for designing the city and intervening in the epistemic culture of experimentation urbanizing the experiment.

Paper long abstract:

I present in this paper the ethnographic/collaborative work that I have been carrying out in Madrid with two architectural collectives. Unlike conventional construction architects their work is organized around the intervention in urban vacant spaces through the collaborative construction of pieces of furniture and mundane infrastructures. They call this practice Hand Made Urbanism (HMU). It is inspired by free culture and DIY practices and is characterized by the use of recycle materials, the documentation of the process and the openness of participation. I will argue that these material interventions that are inflected by the imaginary of commons can be interpreted literally as an urban experiment. The historian Hans Jörg Rheinberger has referred to experiments as machines for producing questions that researchers still don't have. In their effort of infrastructuring urban vacant spaces the HMU establishes the conditions for destabilizing the conventions of the urban planning and reformulating with new questions the sites, practices, materials and actors that are responsible for designing the urban fabric. In this sense we I will argue that HMU is an example of urban experiments that redistributes the capabilities for designing the city while at the same time it intervenes in the epistemic culture of experimentation urbanizing the experiment.

Panel P050
Anthropologies of collective design experiments