About the lab

Columbia University
Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
SLUM LAB (Sustainable Living Urban Model)
Alfredo Brillembourg + Hubert Klumpner, Directors

A unique lab that works as a nomadic enterprise; bringing planners, architects, and students from all areas of the globe to converge and to work towards an understanding of the link between urban planning and poverty alleviation.

Using Urban Think Tank, an already established architecture firm located in Caracas, Venezuela, as its catalyst, architects Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner are seeking to expand the role of the poltically engaged architect in areas of slum upgrading. With Caracas and its dichotomy of informal city (barrios) and formal city (the greater metropolis) continuously being built in opposition of each other, it is getting harder to ignore the problems that exist in these regions plagued by politically repressive regimes, widespread poverty, and disease, that incubate the next generation of global terrorists. The SLUM LAB hopes to stage an explroration of the intersection between social/political and environmental activism to come up with the notion of a collective territory, and also a territory of collaboration that transgresses hemispheric boundaries.

The field of operation is a fragile eco system and economy devoid of any architects. The slum is the home to inhabitants who have taken it upon themselves to build their own community and create a society almost completely segregated by the greater metropolitan area. Despite a sense of affiliation of belonging to this community, because of the lack of space the slum is a highly volatile place, brought on by the high density of people packed on top of one another and the lack of a secure system of security.

Building on what has been already gathered from UTT’s research, the SLUM LAB will probe further into the situations and contribute new ideas and designs for infrastructure, policies, and spatial analysis with efforts being made to facilitate the links between these topics.

As aforementioned, the structure of the LAB will be fluid with a transient staff and global sights of intervention. The idea being that architects and planners coming from their respective parts of the world to incorporate their inimitable insight and then return to their bases and hopefully pass forward the experiences gained creating a network of dialogue throughout the world of architecture and urban planning.