Beyond Entropy Angola
Drawings, plans, elevations
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The project is set in the context of the urgent requirement of energy in the fast-growing city of Luanda. B/E Angola explores the impacts of a low-tech energy infrastructure on the urban form and is a critique on the current models of urban requalification. Beyond Entropy Angola is a continuation of an investigation on the relationship between Energy and Space beyond the rhetoric of sustainability by focusing on the formidable transformations taking place in Angola and in Sub-Saharan Africa. In fact, the fast demographic growth of Luanda is taken as the paradigm of an urban transformation that happens with recurrent problems and similar contradictions throughout the continent: large conurbations without urbanity; congestion without infrastructure; high-density without high-rise. Despite the apparent lack of planning, the peri-urban areas of Luanda reveal a spatial intelligence that is often neglected: every space is simultaneously performing a great diversity of programs and activities. Through the immediacy of architectural production and occupation, each space is constantly becoming other from itself and the city turns into a morphing conurbation that resists any “zoning” or conventional planning. Beyond Entropy Angola formulates a controversial hypothesis in view of stimulating the debate on future planning policies in Africa: the morphing city may produce new models for sustainable urban development, using Cazenga, at the time, the largest slum in the peri-urban area of Luanda. By avoiding any radical destruction of the urban fabric, the proposal for a plantation of Arundo Donax and other local species in the interstitial space between the existing buildings produces a new urban condition which is both a garden and an infrastructure for filtering waters and producing biomass for electricity. This energetic “common ground” addresses the urgent need of services and develops an alternative method to imagine the form of the (African) city. In fact, it addresses the issue of energy as urban form, not simply as a technological or engineering issue. Simultaneously, new public spaces are formed, as local residents would be responsible for maintaining their gardens, as well as cropping the plants. This type of intervention at also raises questions on the issue of landownership, as well as having economic impact on the populations living on the surrounding areas. Beyond Entropy Angola is a generic territorial model that is simultaneously public space and infrastructure (enhancing the morphing nature of the African city) and that can be repeated in several parts of the city in particular in the bordering and ambiguous areas, between the urbanized parts of the city and the slums. During the 2012 Venice Architectural Biennale, a pavilion was built as a real-scale prototype: visitors had the chance to walk through a morphing space which was both garden and infrastructure and to experience the intensity of a primordial space which was not configured, mastered or categorized yet.
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