English subtitles

← TED Global 2013 Found in Translation Teddy Cruz

In the TED Found in Translation Session following his talk, Teddy explores possible solutions to the pressing issues surrounding urban development with a global panel of TED Translators and experts.

Get Embed Code
12 Languages

Showing Revision 4 created 04/25/2014 by Ivana Korom.

  1. - Good afternoon, everyone.
  2. Welcome to the Open Translation
    Lounge at TED Global 2013.
  3. Today, we're happy to welcome Teddy Cruz
  4. who just left the TED stage moments ago,
  5. talking about a pretty bold way
    of designing, planning
  6. and building cities in the future,
    which we're going to talk about today.
  7. Here in the Lounge today,
    we have Bryant from China,
  8. Irteza from Pakistan,
  9. Jan from Czechoslovakia,
  10. and Unnawut from Thailand.
  11. And, on Skype, welcome to all of you.
  12. Teddy, thanks again for joining us.
  13. It's funny,
    when people talk about planning cities,
  14. they always think of looking at these big,
    giant ones, Shanghai, Dubai,
  15. why don't you judge those cities
    as an inspiration?
  16. - Oh, gosh. You begin right away.
  17. Again, as I mentioned in the talk,
    after the last year's of investment
  18. in those environments,
    as the architecture, planning
  19. and urban intelligentsia from all over
    the world fled en masse
  20. to those environments, and that explosion
    of urbanisation from Dubai to Shanghai,
  21. to many of these enclaves
    of economic power, I don't think,
  22. and maybe you guys can tell me,
  23. but I just don't see one single idea
  24. that emerged from those transformations.
  25. In reality, the best ideas
    about urbanisation in the context
  26. of generating other modalities
    of planning,
  27. of rethinking infrastructure,
  28. of affordable housing,
  29. of mobilising other processes
    of public participation,
  30. and so on, were happening
    in Latin America, but nobody was noticing.
  31. So, the provocation I have is that
    not one single idea was advanced
  32. in Dubai or Shanghai.
  33. In fact, they were just imitating
    and reproducing the worst recipes
  34. of urban planning that were generated
  35. in the United States in the last decades.
  36. - I wonder what your strategy would be if,
  37. let's say, we were
    to transplant you and say,
  38. can we take some of these strategies
    and do them in these different countries?
  39. When you have this kind of authoritarian
    capitalism, how could you deal with it?
  40. - I've worked, in fact,
    in South Korea as an artist
  41. intervening in projects
    that have to do with public space
  42. and the politics of housing.
  43. And I investigated many
    of those neighbourhoods
  44. that were slated for demolition.
  45. And it was amazing to investigate
    the amount of informal economies
  46. of social organisational practices
    embedded in those neighbourhoods.
  47. There was a man who built
    a snail farm on four rooftops
  48. of his block, and, in doing so,
    he also produced
  49. a co-operative model to sustain
    the economy
  50. of that immediate environment.
  51. It's hard to imagine
  52. that those entrepreneurial
    social economic energies
  53. are completely eroded.
  54. Fine, we know the city needs to transform.
  55. I'm not talking about preserving
    those neighbourhoods intact.
  56. But before we destroy them,
    let's understand what they've produced.
  57. Right.
  58. T. Cruz: And what I've been investigating
    in my own section of the world,
  59. on the border between Mexico
    and the United States,
  60. is that density needs to be reimagined
  61. as an amount of socio-economic
    exchanges per area,
  62. and that's what defines
    many of those neighbourhoods.
  63. But if a developer looks at it,
    they can't monetise that.
  64. So, how do you sell that
    to the power brokers
  65. or the stakeholders in the community,
    who are actually driving everything?
  66. How do you come in as a designer
    and say, it's really complicated.
  67. As we all know the world
    of architects and designers
  68. has been eroded to some degree,
  69. but when you're dealing
    with a massive problem,
  70. I wonder what your strategy
    is for tackling it?
  71. - That's a fantastic question.
  72. I think that's where we begin to find
    and expand the role of architects
  73. and planners that can begin
    to act as facilitators or mediators
  74. of the bottom-up knowledge,
  75. and the logics,
    economically and politically,
  76. of top-down organisation.
  77. Because even the activists working
    in those neighbourhoods
  78. were not aware of that knowledge.
  79. They are resisting the developers.
  80. But they're not representing
    the knowledge of the community.
  81. - So they're not giving them a solution?
  82. - Exactly.
  83. And I think that's a gap
    that needs to be filled.
  84. It's a difficult issue
    because it all has to do with,
  85. in the end, the amount of profit.
  86. I think that enabling
    housing projects, or processes,
  87. that enable a community to profit
    from its own infrastructure
  88. and its own housing
    is what we need to talk about.
  89. But, yes, in this polarisation
    between the bottom-up and the top-down,
  90. there is much to be said
    and to be done, really,
  91. in producing new models
    of political representation,
  92. but also community participation.
  93. And this is what is absent.
  94. - So it's the designer as facilitator,
    translator, and mediator?
  95. T. Cruz: Exactly.
  96. That is one point that I wish
    I would have said in the 13 minutes,
  97. but it's difficult to.
  98. - I'd like to bring in some people
    from some large cities.
  99. I'd like to bring in some commentary.
  100. Nati, from Sao Paulo,
    do you have a question for Teddy?
  101. So, based on what we are discussing
    here, I'd like to ask you,
  102. how could developers
    reinvent their business?
  103. Are there new ways for them
  104. to follow in which they do not provide
    a kind of valorisation of improvements?
  105. Is there a way that developers
    can change their business
  106. and bring a good legacy to cities?
  107. - The answer, in a sense,
    is that we can't wait for the developers.
  108. They are not our clients.
  109. I think we need to begin by ourselves
    gaining the knowledge
  110. of the developer so that we,
    as designers, as architects,
  111. urban planners, become the developers
    of new housing models,
  112. because the knowledge
    is out there to be mobilised.
  113. The kind of intelligence the developer
    has in manipulating resources
  114. and time is all embedded
    in the spreadsheet.
  115. And that knowledge has been away from us.
  116. So, on the one hand,
    our clients should be ourselves,
  117. Second, or primarily, in fact,
    the communities.
  118. The idea that informal settlements
    or neighbourhoods
  119. facilitated by existing
    community-based practices,
  120. whether NGOs or other modes
    of representation,
  121. can, in fact, also become
    developers of their own housing.
  122. I would argue the examples need to be
    driven by us and not by the developers.
  123. And only then can they get a sense.
  124. But part of the issue of the urban crisis
    today is that the resources
  125. of the many
    have been moved to the very few.
  126. I think it's very difficult to convince
    the developer to have less profit.
  127. So, that's the reason I think
    the early stages of transformation
  128. will have to happen
    with very small scale examples
  129. and models that can emerge
    from these communities.
  130. But I would argue the importance
    of architects becoming
  131. developers of affordable
    social housing in our time.
  132. - We're going to take another
    question from Skype. Matti?
  133. - My question is, if we are to realise
    this new way of citizenship,
  134. where people create
    rather than just consume,
  135. how do we change
    people's way of looking at citizenship
  136. as something else than just consumerism?
  137. - You're getting
    to the core of the challenge.
  138. And that's the reason Latin America,
  139. as one of the speakers today suggested,
    much more needs to be said about it.
  140. What produced the transformation?
  141. The urban transformation of places
    like Medellín in Colombia
  142. that was considered
    the most dangerous city in the world
  143. in the late '80s and early '90s
  144. to becoming now an exemplary model
    of urban transformation.
  145. Again, it was not about buildings,
    architecture or planning.
  146. It was about a political
    transformation of institutions,
  147. seeking a new type of interface
    with the public.
  148. And that being said, which is
    another aspect that many designers,
  149. architects and planners need to engage,
  150. how to produce a new civic education,
  151. engaging what the Colombians
    call a civic culture,
  152. an urban pedagogy
    that begins to raise awareness
  153. of the relationship of social norms
    and the construction of the city.
  154. I think to re-engage a political will
    that invests the minds and hearts
  155. of people in constructing
    their own city requires, once more,
  156. mediation and investment
    in education, particularly.
  157. A huge amount of work.
  158. But some masochists, like you and I,
    we can engage, hopefully,
  159. in producing new models of interface
    to produce an urban educational process.
  160. I'm saying that because
    that's one of the closest projects
  161. that I want to follow in the next years.
  162. - I want to give the panel
    an opportunity to ask a question.
  163. - I come from Bangkok.
  164. A lot of what you said seems like
    we need to change a lot of things, right?
  165. But for those
    that are already established,
  166. especially in the city centre,
  167. where you already have
    all the spaces occupied,
  168. how do you think that area
    of the city could be changed, or not?
  169. - Yes.
  170. I think that this is what brings up
    an issue that was difficult also
  171. to elaborate on in the 13 minutes.
  172. It's the role of programming.
  173. While certain buildings
    remain static, fixed,
  174. that the orientation should be
    to rethink the retrofitting,
  175. not necessarily through
    physical strategies,
  176. but through intelligent
    programmatic hybrids,
  177. or conditions that could anticipate
  178. the intensification of economic
    and social activity.
  179. So, we could be designers not only
    of space but of protocols,
  180. that's what I was saying earlier.
  181. - You need to own your own cities?
  182. - A sense of ownership
    of your own city is essential.
  183. And that's the reason, I think,
  184. public participation in reforming
    governments is necessary.
  185. - I feel like you need to come up
    with an urban handbook
  186. for guerilla warfare,
    in terms of the design space.
  187. To give concrete examples.
  188. How can we deal with these conditions
    on a lot of different levels
  189. is a huge problem.
  190. At the end of the day,
    that's what I'm saying.
  191. We think because we are educated
    in architectural schools,
  192. that what we need to do as architects
    is just to design objects.
  193. We could be designing many other things,
  194. and I think the designing of social
    relations or even, at times,
  195. political processes
    can be an interesting topic
  196. that has been absent
    from our debate, I think.
  197. - One more question
    from our viewers on Skype.
  198. Sergio, would you like to ask a question?
  199. - Yeah.
  200. One of the things that struck me
    the most in your talk was
  201. when you spoke about the people
    who were building the skate park.
  202. And it was interesting to me
    for two reasons.
  203. First because it shows that there
    are people who want to be
  204. active in their citizenship.
  205. And the fact that they were told,
    or they were required, to build an NGO.
  206. But I see this as something that began
    as something much more unplanned,
  207. something that could
    grow more organically.
  208. And then it went to an NGO.
  209. It required it to be more planned,
    more managed, as you say.
  210. So, are we seeing two different models?
  211. Would you prefer to have some growth
    that is more unplanned,
  212. more organic, more typically reactive,
    if it's not as planned?
  213. - I get it. In fact, it's one of the most
    provocative questions.
  214. Yes, while we want to protect
    and uphold the magic of the unplanned,
  215. part of the problem in terms
    of these communities being suppressed -
  216. they're not able to advance
    socio-economically -
  217. is that they lack representation.
  218. Not that they "lack", they contain it,
  219. but sometimes the instruments
    to formulate new forms of organisation
  220. and management that can push
    against the top-down institution.
  221. So I think I do believe that in order
    to really get to the next step,
  222. the next layer, we need to construct
    other forms of governance.
  223. That's not to say that skateboarders
    have to become rigid and planned.
  224. No, they continue to organise themselves
  225. by enabling forms of access
    into the magic of insurgence.
  226. But they now have resources.
  227. They now have a space
    which is physical and they call the shots.
  228. In fact, they are inspiring other
    environments to do the same.
  229. I wouldn't be afraid of that
    translation from the unplanned
  230. into particular calibration
    of the planned,
  231. but without selling out.
  232. It is that middle, grey zone
    that needs to be activated
  233. because we've been polarising
    ourselves based on this way
  234. of looking in such a patronising way
    at the informal and the unplanned.
  235. I think there is much
    to be constructed there,
  236. in terms of new politics
    of urban development.
  237. - We're going to have to end there.
  238. We need to get people
    back into the session.
  239. Teddy, thank you
    so much for joining us today.
  240. - Thank you, and thank
    you for your questions.
  241. Some of you, if we can keep in touch,
    and invite me to Portugal--
  242. - Come any time.
    - Thank you.
  243. - Thank you, everybody.
    We're back tomorrow.
  244. Thank you so much.
  245. (Applause)