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When Economies Become Form

PROJECT Notes: Micro-economic models as spatial prescriptions in Northeast Brazil

THE Brief

Berlage Institute, Rotterdam
Tina DiCarlo & Markus Miessen

In a time of global economic challenges – paralleled by a resource crisis as the result of an increasing awareness regarding the looming depletion of crude oil – there is arguably the potential for a reverse globalization: that of extreme locality and context produce. While international trading, shipping, and physical logistics are becoming increasingly expensive, even tax-exempted islands of economic potential will no longer hold true to their visionary frameworks. When transport becomes a luxury, economies will thrive locally. Such an exacerbation of localities arises in tandem with the reverse logic and proliferation global tourism. When paradise becomes generic, the touristic and market value placed on the local, and localities, proliferates.

There is an odd notion hidden in this appeal of localities. We are skeptical about intervening in foreign lands. One should try to avoid the risks of authenticity and progress turning into the opposite of what they promise, i.e., either mimicking local customs by emulating their formal characteristics, or introducing planning frameworks that result in a pretense of heterogeneity through individual pedigree architectures.

This 18-week research studio will investigate a strategy for local intervention. The current economic climate and emergence of six resorts within the emerging sub-urban economy of Northeast Brazil, which has proven resilient to the current economic crisis, will be invoked as a case study. The six-star Duas Barras resort under development along Alagoas’ 143 miles of unspoiled coast will provide a backdrop for investigation.

Students will investigate twelve meta-topics via micro-economies in which content-productions become formal interventions and spatial prescriptions. Individual interventions will arise out of explorations considered on local, regional and super regional scales, which will in turn be considered as an accumulation or composite to produce a new, generative layer for the (sub-) region. Communication design will enter as content. Text will be developed as a material construct.

The site of intervention will be considered both physical and strategic, within the given locale of Duas Barras, Poxim, Coruripe, Alagoas, Northeast Brazil and that of generative micro-economies on local, regionale, and supra-regional scales.  There will be a field trip to Brazil during the last week of March.
The studio structure will be akin to that of an office, in which students maintain indivdiual areas of responsibility, within the context of a collective effort. It will adapt the working and collaborative structure of the Duas Barras project, in which Tina DiCarlo assumes the role of Editor and Curator and Markus Miessen, Architect. Knowledge and expertise gained are proposed in terms of methodology, content and formal techniques.


When Economies Become Form When Economies Become Form