During the last decade, the South American continent has seen a strong push for transnational integration, initiated by the former Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who (with the endorsement of eleven other nations) spearheaded the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), a comprehensive energy, transport, and communications network. The most aggressive transcontinental integration project ever planned for South America, the initiative systematically deploys ten east-west infrastructural corridors, enhancing economic development but raising important questions about the polarizing effect of pitting regional needs against the colossal processes of resource extraction. Providing much-needed historical contextualization to IIRSA’s agenda, Beyond the City ties together a series of spatial models and offers a survey of regional strategies in five case studies of often overlooked sites built outside the traditional South American urban constructs.
Implementing the term “resource extraction urbanism,” the architect and urbanist Felipe Correa takes us from Brazil’s nineteenth-century regional capital city of Belo Horizonte to the experimental, circular, “temporary” city of Vila Piloto in Três Lagoas. In Chile, he surveys the mining town of María Elena. In Venezuela, he explores petrochemical encampments at Judibana and El Tablazo, as well as new industrial frontiers at Ciudad Guayana. The result is both a cautionary tale, bringing to light a history of societies that were “inscribed” and administered, and a perceptive examination of the agency of architecture and urban planning in shaping South American lives.
Felipe Correa is an associate professor of urban design and Director of the Urban Design Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. His previous books are Mexico City: Between Geometry and Geography and A Line in the Andes, which won first prize in the Architecture, Landscape, and Urbanism Category at the 2014 Pan American Architecture Biennale.
[Correa's] work describes a series of ex novo urban and regional projects in South America sited and designed to facilitate the mining or harvesting of natural resources. This arresting group of incarnated dreams offers a vivid alternative—or critically supplementary—history of the modern city, embodying an aspirational possibility in which both creating an urban design and realizing it can be imaginative and literal all at once. . . . The author’s evocation of the urban and the territorial is acute and revelatory, a nuanced analysis of the interaction of formal ideals and the aggressive extraction of the earth’s resources.
In contrast to contemporary literature on urban globalization that focuses on megacities, Correa exposes the regional and interregional impacts of the new world economy. Starting from IIRSA, the book uncovers a long history of resource extraction projects in South America that have deeply impacted the shape of the region’s cities and landscape. From colonial times (e.g. the foundational myth of El Dorado), to nationalist industrial projects (e.g. Ciudad Guayana), to the present Triple Frontier project, the book documents and analyzes an impressive range of projects. This is at once the first and the definitive account of how the landscape and cities of the continent have been shaped by the economy of resource extraction and by the social imaginary it continues to inspire.
~Hashim Sarkis, architect and Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
South America is usually conceived as a place of coastal or mountain cities, and its vast interior is usually imagined as a realm of wild forests and environmental conflict. Beyond the City presents a suggestive view of this territory as a place of emergent urban systems focused around the economies of resource extraction—a unique approach that is all the more relevant given the rise in extractive enterprise and the large-scale regional integration projects fueling new settlements. A beautifully illustrated and clearly written volume.
~Susanna Hecht, Luskin School of Public Affairs (UCLA), author of The Scramble for the Amazon and the "Lost Paradise" of Euclides da Cunha
Beyond the City is a timely intervention grounded in key historical case studies that clearly show the deep, interrelated implications of transnational economic policy, urban design, regional planning, and resource extraction to questions of urban, social, and territorial identity. Correa’s study provides the first fundamental chapter of a global history of ‘resource extraction urbanism.’
~Mirko Zardini, Director, Canadian Centre for Architecture
Introduction. Shaping Resource Extraction
Chapter 1. A Regional Capital: Belo Horizonte
Chapter 2. A Mining Town Constellation: María Elena
Chapter 3. Petrol Encampments: Judibana and El Tablazo
Chapter 4. A New Industrial Frontier: Ciudad Guayana
Chapter 5. Pioneering Modernity: Vila Piloto
Epilogue. The Legacy of Resource Extraction Urbanism and the Future of the South American Hinterland
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