English versions of the following articles are available online

Title: Land as Forensic Evidence
Author: Eyal Weizman. Architect. Director, Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London, London, England.
Abstract: Understanding architecture as a device capable of recording what occurs in it, Forensic Architecture –Eyal Weizman’s practice– seeks to reconstruct historical facts from physical or material evidence. In his latest book, The Conflict Shoreline, Weizman extends these analyzes to conflicts over territory, reconstructing the history of Bedouin communities expelled from the Negev desert based on the traces they left on the ground.
Keywords: forensic architecture, land, occupation, history, climate change.
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Title: Plasencia Clergy House. Plasencia, España
Author: Andrés Jaque. Associate Professor, Columbia University, New York, USA.
Abstract: Through activation devices, this Clergy House hoped to provoke its users –retired priests– to partake in building their own space. Assigning each a piece of land, it was expected they contributed to shape the central courtyard. This proposal, however, raised differences among its users, which led not only to transform the original distribution of the land but also to generate internal alliances for its maintenance.
Keywords: land, dispute, participation, activation, politics.
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Title: Defining Inequality
Authors: Reinhold Martin. Architect. PhD, Princeton University. Director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture (Columbia University, USA) and Professor of Architecture at GSAPP, Columbia University, New York, USA. / Jacob Moore. Architect. Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture, gsapp, Columbia University. Assistant Director of the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, New York, USA. / Susanne Schindler. Dipl.-Ing., University of the Arts, Berlin. Adjunct Associate Research Scholar at the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture, Columbia University, New York, USA.
Abstract: Is there a link between inequality and access to land? Although we tend to think that inequality depends on income disparities, this text –part of a long-term research project conducted by the Buell Center at Columbia University– shows us that housing is one of its most powerful engines. Certain practices of architecture, therefore –at least according to the essay’s authors– might be better understood as “the art of inequality.”
Keywords: housing, real estate, land, crisis, United States.
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Title: Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Shenzhen, China, 2006 – 2013
Authors: Office for Metropolitan Architecture OMA.
Abstract: An elevated platform not only reformulates the podium/tower typology, but also creates a new public ground, turning the multiplication of land –a property of the tower– into an opportunity for the city. In this way the longstanding modern desire of the elevated ground ironically reappears in this building for the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, with its raised podium representing the lack of a solid ground with which the stock market operates.
Keywords: ground, tower, podium, lifted, floating.
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Title: The State as Agent of Urban Land Expansion. Santiago, 19th Century
Author: Pía Montealegre. Architect. Doctor (c) in Architecture and Urban Studies at the UC, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: The State seems to have no control over the land market, since this would depend on the ‘invisible hand’ that regulates transactions between private agents. Analyzing two cases in Santiago in the 19th century, this text shows us, however, that it has not always been this way: through the creation of public parks the State did operate as a developer, encouraging an urban expansion that –for our current mindset– it should only regulate.
Keywords: park, city, real estate, Quinta Normal, Campo de Marte.
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Title: Institutional Building for the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism, O’Higgins Region
Author: Mario Carreño. Architect. Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Escuela de Arquitectura UC, Santiago, Chile. / Piera Sartori. Architect. Graduate studies in Landscape Architecture at the UC, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: By understanding that a public building is not only a structure that houses an institution but also an example on how to enhance the public condition, this project for the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism’s building in the city of Rancagua puts forward an urban strategy for public land that has been so effective that is even being replicated by its neighbors in their own new buildings.
Keywords: building, public, land, block, opening.
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Title: Footprints
Author: Alejandra Celedón. Architect. Master in Advanced Architectural Studies, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, London, England. PhD, The Architectural Association School of Architecture, London, England.
Abstract: As a drawing on the ground, the plan not only anticipates the disposition of a future building. It is also a conceptual abstraction, a political device and even a possible redoubt of autonomy for architecture. Understanding the plan as a footprint that imprints a mark on the territory, the text invites us to rethink the potential of this tool beyond its mere instrumentality in the design process.
Keywords: plan, ground, typology, building, city.
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Title: One-to-One
Author: Taller de Formación y Representación I. Escuela de Arquitectura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. 1st semester 2016, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: The same system used for founding cities and starting a building –the layout– is used as an educational tool to initiate undergraduate architecture students. In this way drawing on the ground arises as the foundational act, not only for the building but also for the city and for the architect itself.
Keywords: layout, ground, plan, pedagogy, analogous city.
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Title: Land in the Dispute for Urban Reconstruction. Chillán, 1939
Author: Horacio Torrent. Architect. Doctor in Architecture, Universidad Nacional de Rosario, Rosario, Argentina.
Abstract: Instead of a common good, urban land is a place for territorial, economic and even ideological dispute. Studying the reconstruction of Chillán after the 1939’s earthquake –a naturally caused tabula rasa that offered the perfect opportunity for introducing modern urbanism– this text delves into the frictions between the possibilities of city planning and the safeguard of land ownership.
Keywords: earthquake, land use, city, ownership, zoning.
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Title: Georama of Trash
Author: Design Earth. Rania Ghosn. Assistant professor, MIT School of Architecture + Planning, Cambridge, USA. / El Hadi Jazairy. Assistant professor, Architecture University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA.
Abstract: In its material dimension, the land receives both the positive and negative externalities of human life. Trash, for instance, is a negative externality that also reaches the ground, but that is conveniently placed ‘out of sight’. This project by Design Earth, however, proposes an opposite strategy: in a society that only reacts to fetishistic spectacularization, perhaps it is not unreasonable to think of projects that transform the trash into an architectural spectacle.
Keywords: earth, environment, waste, garbage, theater.
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Title: The Basement of the San Francisco Church: An Earthquake-Resistant Foundation on a Prehispanic Layer?
Author: Natalia Jorquera S. Architect. Doctorate in Architecture Technology, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Firenze, Italy. / Catalina Soto Rodríguez. Archaeologist. Master in Theory and Art History, Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: How has a four-century old church managed to stand on its feet, resisting more than 15 earthquakes of magnitude over 7? Starting from this question, this research examines the church’s subsoil to suggest that its foundations, built in 1586, perhaps would be one of the first earthquake-resistant structures in Chile.
Keywords: soil, ground, foundations, heritage, seismic resistance.
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Title: Ground as Program Reframing the Skyline
Author: José Mayoral. Architect. MArch II, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA. / Kevin Murray. Architect. MArch I, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.
Abstract: In a city where the accumulation of monuments has turned public space into nothing else than the platform from which to photograph them, the addition of ground layers offers an alternative relationship between the city and its history. For if the monument is what remains from the past, the elevated ground –as excavated sediments– allows a new urban reading from a counterintuitive operation: leaving segments the city underground.
Keywords: square, ground, strata, monuments, Turkey.
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Title: Extraction. Canadian Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale
Author: Pierre Bélanger. Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA.
Abstract: Extraction –the Canadian exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale– confronts us with the last eight centuries of natural resources exploitation. Represented as a ‘counter-monument’ which, by inviting the visitors to look down at the soil left them in a position of reverence to the crown, this research and its manifesto remind us that –although in a less obvious or evident way– the exploitation of resources is also a pattern of land development.
Keywords: exploitation, resources, soil, Canada, Venice Biennale.
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Title: Food Network. Design for a New Territorial Logic
Author: Agustina González Cid. Architect. MSc in Architecture and Urban Studies, MIT, CAmbridge, USA.
Abstract: Over a third of the earth’s surface is destined to food crops; however, this territorial design has been defined solely on the basis of functional, logistical and economic criteria. By proposing to incorporate an architectural perspective onto the territory, this project seeks to transform the ‘sea of soy’ of Argentinean pampa into an architectural territory that is integrated to the global markets while also serving local communities.
Keywords: soil, crop, hinterland, Argentina, soy.
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Title: Expo Milano 2015. Conceptual Masterplan. Milano, Italy. Project, 2009
Author: Herzog & de Meuron.
Abstract: International exhibitions have become actual fairs of architectural prowess where the consistency of the whole ends up subjected to individual vanity. As a critique to this usual approach, in this proposal for the Expo Milano 2015 Herzog & de Meuron ask, what if instead of exhibiting pavilions each country presents a piece of their land and agricultural landscape? Maybe we would start to speak of ‘lands’ instead of ‘countries’, since the original meaning of Milan was precisely ‘middle land’.
Keywords: exhibition, land, soil, landscape, Milano.
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Title: Debate
Author: Marcial Echenique. Architect. Emeritus Professor of the Department of Land Use and Transport Studies at the University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England. / Elke Schlack. Architect. Head of the Master’s program in Urban Project of the School of Architecture at the UC, Santiago, Chile. / María José Castillo. Architect. Urban advisor for the Municipality of Providencia and professor of the Master of Urban Design of the School of Architecture at the UC, Santiago, Chile. / Sebastián Gray. Architect. President of the Chilean Chamber of Architects (2013-2016). Professor of the Master of Urban Design of the School of Architecture at the UC, Santiago, Chile.
Abstract: For this issue on lands we have posed a series of key questions: should urban land be expanded or compressed? Who bears the costs and who profits? Does such an answer contribute to equality between city’s inhabitants? The responses here presented show that the notion of ‘urban land’ is a disputed territory where the point of view does matter, as it literally has urban-scale consequences.
Keywords: densification, urban sprawl, equality, territory, urbanity.
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Editorial. Looking Down

On September 2, 2015 the world was shocked by the image of Aylan Kurdi, a 3-year-old Syrian child that was found drowned on Turkey’s shoreline. Along with his family and many of their countrymen, the child was escaping the civil war in his homeland when the boat he was travelling sank while crossing the Mediterranean. His journey to a war-free land ended tragically. The image of his body lying on the beach, looking down, on the edge between the sea and the land, remains engraved in our memories reminding us that the land is much more than a mere material condition: it is also an abstract construct made of local laws, international treaties, private properties and market values that, despite being invisible, are so real that drive human beings –and even capital– to flow in search of better conditions.

On January 31, 2016 a regrettable reenactment of the scene by artist Ai Wei Wei –who photographed himself lying on the shores of Lesbos in Greece looking down in the same position as Kurdi– not only came to remind us of the obvious inability of art to represent these phenomena, but also how the circulation of images trivializes reflection upon them, up to the point that talking about this scene now seems obsolete.

But this obsolescence is only apparent. While this image is already archived as news from one year ago, it is still fresh as reflection material, especially in our field. For if architectural knowledge comprises the study and problematization of the land, as well as the provision of spaces to live in, the fact that someone lost his life trying to reach a new land to inhabit could perfectly become an architectural concern.

Of course this issue of ARQ cannot answer all the questions that this scene leaves behind. However, aware of our mission of promoting new territories of knowledge, we have focused on presenting the architectural quests for new lands, either in projects, essays or research, publishing a range of readings and questionings on a subject that, despite being ancient, is far from exhausted.

From debates on the land-value (by Martin, Moore & Schindler, and also by Montealegre) to conceptualizations about it (by Celedón and by Torrent); from territorial disputes (in Weizman and in Jaque) to interventions on the territory (by González and by Design Earth); from strategies to expand public land (by Carreño & Sartori) to the possibility of publicizing different lands (by Herzog & de Meuron); from subsoil as a territory of geopolitical disputes (in Belanger) to subsoil as a storage of ancient wisdom (in Jorquera & Soto); from the ground transformed to create a new program (by Mayoral & Murray) to the ground lifted to conceive a new typology (by OMA). All of these approaches open up a world of possibilities that expand the classic understanding of the land as architectural ground –be it structural, existential or symbolic.

For if it is logical to think that ‘land’ does not mean the same for a farmer than for a topographer, a geographer, an archaeologist, a real estate broker or a geologist, it would be equally logical to assume that the multiple ways in which architecture develops nowadays extend the notions of land far beyond the mere physical support meant for receiving a building. Perhaps this is the reason why concepts such as ‘territory’, ‘platforms’, ‘fields’ or ‘groundings’ have become part of our daily conversations given that, if architecture is located on a land, then there will be as many notions of it as ways of understanding architecture.

Still, new challenges come up every day. Today, for instance, when the promise of a globalized world is clashing against people willing to defend ‘their land’ from the presence of those many others who have left their own, it seems necessary to ask ourselves again –from the different points of view that architecture can offer– not only for what land means, but also for what it implies. What new types of land can architecture propose to these realities? How do we imagine these lands where not only capital but also people –independently of their origins– are accepted and welcomed? It is very likely that the answers to these questions can’t be found in this issue of ARQ, but we have cared about bringing together those who –with less opportunism than Ai Wei Wei– are looking down with many other questions and concerns that, hopefully, will end up opening up new territories for architecture.


* Note of the editor. In Spanish, the word ‘suelo’ has three main meanings: ‘land’, ‘ground’ and ‘soil’. For this issue of ARQ, we have chosen to translate it as ‘land’ since this word, in some way, encompasses all the other meanings. However, the entries selected for this issue refer to –or work with– any of the aforementioned concepts.

Printed in August 2016
Ediciones ARQ
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile School of Architecture
Santiago, Chile

Text: Spanish / English
English abstracts available for all articles

Summary (printed version)
Photographic Portfolio

Architectural Lands. Natural Lands / Philippe Blanc


Looking Down / Francisco Díaz

Readings, works and projects

Land as Forensic Evidence / Eyal Weizman interviewed by Alfredo Thiermann

Plasencia Clergy House. Plasencia, España / Andrés Jaque

Defining Inequality / Reinhold Martin. Jacob Moore. Susanne Schindler

Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Shenzhen, China, 2006 – 2013 / Office for Metropolitan Architecture, OMA

The State as Agent of Urban Land Expansion. Santiago, 19th Century / Pía Montealegre

Institutional Building for the Ministry of Housing and Urbanism, O’Higgins Region / Mario Carreño. Piera Sartori

One-to-One / Taller de Formación y Representación I

Land in the Dispute for Urban Reconstruction. Chillán, 1939 / Horacio Torrent

Georama of Trash / Design Earth, Rania Ghosn. El Hadi Jazairy

The Basement of the San Francisco Church: An Earthquake-Resistant Foundation on a Prehispanic Layer? / Natalia Jorquera S. Catalina Soto R.

Ground as Program Reframing the Skyline / José Mayoral. Kevin Murray

Extraction. Canadian Exhibition at the 2016 Venice Biennale / Pierre Bélanger

Food Network. Design for a New Territorial Logic / Agustina González Cid

Expo Milano 2015. Conceptual Masterplan. Milano, Italy. Project, 2009 / Herzog & de Meuron

Debate / Marcial Echenique. Elke Schlack. María José Castillo. Sebastián Gray