Should Designers Be Outlaws?
Arquitectura Expandida is a design collective based in Bogota, Colombia that builds structures of public assembly for communities which cannot afford to go through official channels for design and construction. In Bogota, as elsewhere, the formal structures of the city have not always kept up with the pace of urbanization. The process has given rise to large informal and semi-formal communities around Bogota. These communities at once provide problems of integration, but simultaneously provide contemporary Bogota with the social and economic capital needed for the city to thrive.
Founded in 2010, AXP’s practice invites communities to self-organize around neglected space. Because obtaining building permits in Bogota can be prohibitively long and expensive, AXP works with communities to identify areas of neglect, which could be improved by good design and collective effort. AXP then works with community organizations to navigate (or in some cases avoid) the civic bureaucracy.
AXP allies itself with local community leaders and organizations, but avoids a central role, providing only the design and construction expertise for the execution of the projects. The collective’s design philosophy also relies heavily on an embrace of sustainable, affordable and reclaimed materials. By using materials like bamboo and translucent sheeting, “form of relationship between culture and the urban environment through an invitation and a relational honesty materialized in transparency.”
Current members of Arquitectura Expandida are: Ana Lopez Ortego, Harold Guyaux, Randy Orjuela, Marina Tejedor, Felipe González
We were fortunate enough to speak with Marina and Felipe on Jan. 19, and you can hear our discussion here.