Infrastructure Space Forum
In April 2016 I was able to participate in the LafargeHolcim’s 5th International Forum, this year held in Detroit and centered around the theme of “Infrastructure Space”.
Why Detroit? What is Infrastructure Space? Detroit is a prime example of a city born of infrastructure, specifically the automobile industry, and also hit decline because it was deemed “too big to fail”. It illustrates that infrastructure is not invisible, that infrastructure impacts space and vise-versa, that it has not only a physical impact but a social, political impact as well. And the question of rebuilding, can we learn from our mistakes to support a more sustainable model of growth?
Those questions were the driving force behind the two full days of workshops, tours, and lectures addressing the architectural, metropolitan, territorial, and planetary scales. There were many overlapping themes that emerged- for one, physical geography – meaning cities that have adjacencies next to each other on a map or the globe is actually not as important as the functional geography of global network chains made possible by our evolving infrastructural matrix – we are becoming a “Global Network Civilization”. And how disjointed it is in remote areas or in Kenya where physical infrastructure, plumbing, roads, may be lacking – they have fiberoptic and broadband so cell phones are prevalent – we can all agree that digital systems are more robust when people connect with each other and increase exchanges, but isn’t this also true for physical and transportation systems?
This may necessitate a new way of mapping relations between interacting agents in coevolution with their environments – demanding a new way of seeing. My question as a practitioner would be what then do we do once we have these visualizations? How are they distributed, accessed, and how to we let it inform our design decisions? These questions weren’t answered at the forum but it all provided interesting food for thought. For a more comprehensive overview of the proceedings, visit LafargeHolcim’s website: https://www.lafargeholcim-foundation.org/Symposium/5th-international-forum-2016-infrastructure-space/Overview