The Latin American + Caribbean Laboratory

Research Labs + Centers

Fall 2012 + Spring 2013

Clara Irazábal, director, Alejandro de Castro Mazarro, program coordinator

The Latin American and Caribbean Laboratory (Latin Lab) serves as an intellectual platform for research, educational and service initiatives related to architecture and urban planning in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Based at Columbia University’s GSAPP, the Lab aims to become a reference in the study of the built environment and community development in LAC and its diasporas and a premier resource to contribute to their just and sustainable transformations. The Lab’s primary lines of work are Migration and Ethno-Urbanism, Urban Resilience and Upgrading, and Regional and Transnational Planning.

Recent Initiatives:

Latin Lab Brown Bag Series
LBS is an initiative that attempts to create an informal environment for debating with young international scholars or PhD students, with ongoing research on LAC special issues. It is held at lunchtime bringing together the GSAPP community. Starting in 2013, Latin Lab has held 7 editions of LBS with speakers from Chile, Colombia and Brazil.

Assess: Chile at Columbia: Who Cares for Chilean Cities? Conference, Spring 2013
Is an initiative that discusses, in several formats, the state of contemporary cities in Chile. The project aims to raise questions and skip external, often patronizing understandings of Chilean practices, inviting Chilean scholars who–closely in touch with both national practices and international debates in the fields of Architecture, Public Space and Urban Projects–are uniquely positioned to initiate a critical conversation.

 A Vision for Talca’s Future Post-Earthquake Reconstruction Redevelopment
Students from the urban planning, architecture, urban design, preservation and real estate programs worked on redevelopment proposals after the devastating 2010 earthquake, focusing on the city of Talca. The studio traveled to Chile, meeting public officials, developers, non- profit organizations, those displaced by the earthquake, and other stakeholders. Their site visit was guided by research on value capture and other land use strategies. Their final presentation synthesize their ideas, offering community development and spatial recommendations to guide the reconstruction process.

Formalism and Informality in Latin American Architecture
This seminar explored notions related to the problems of the habitat (such as “inadequate housing”, “sub-standard living” or “slums”) and provided a political and historical background that intersected with dominant narratives of Latin America’s institutional incapacity to solve its “housing problem.” The seminar also characterized mainstream architectural answers to informality provided by international media, and it questions the independence of such disciplines vis-à-vis the role of real estate, politics, and migration patterns in the physical configuration of cities.

Projects Completed This Year

Beyond ‘Latino New Urbanism’: Advocating Ethnurbanisms

Clara Irazábal. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability (special issue on Latino urbanism: Placemaking in 21st Century American Cities), vol 5, n 2/3, 2012. 

Desenho Urbano, Planejamento e Políticas de Desenvolvimento em Curitiba
Clara Irazábal. In Vicente del Rio and William Siembieda (eds.). Desenho Urbano Contemporâneo no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: LTC (Livros Tecnicos e Cientificos, LTDA), forthcoming 2013.

Espacio, Revolución y Resistencia: Lugares Ordinarios y Eventos Extraordinarios en Caracas
Clara Irazábal and John Foley. In Arturo Almandoz (ed.). Caracas, de la Metrópoli Súbita a la Meca Roja. Quito, Ecuador: Organización Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Centros Históricos (Olacchi), 2012, 285-322.

Historical Overview of Latinos and Planning in the Southwest: 1900 to the Present
Clara Irazábal and Ramzi Farhat. In Michael Rios and Leonardo Vazquez, with Lucrezia Miranda (eds.). Diálogos: Placemaking in Latino Communities. London, New York: Routledge / Taylor & Francis Group, 2012, 23-35.

Chile at Columbia Symposium A
Informal Urban Upgrading, What Makes it Successful? B
Fix C