Alfredo Brillembourg, Urban-Think Tank // The Open Village

Tonight we had the pleasure of hosting the IAAC Winter Lecture with Alfredo Brillembourg of Urban-Think Tank, The Open Village. The lecture focused on the concept and practical design of urban villages with mixed-income housing, small-scale commercial spaces and public amenities in diverse city environments. What is the notion of an urban village?

Ranging from open building structures to a mixed-use housing community that allows various occupation scenarios over different time periods, Urban-Think Tank is actively exploring the architectural, social, and economic systems that could create new modes of living.

Open building concepts have been present in the architectural discourse since LeCorbusier’s famous depiction of the Maison Dominoconstruction principle. N.J. Habraken in his seminal book SUPPORTS took the idea of an open structure even further by imagining it as a means to anticipate changing user demands without relying on too much architectural design. Hans Widmer, swiss author of the 1980’s anti-capitalist utopia called “Bolo’ Bolo”, provided a potent vision for alternative communities that would reject market-oriented lifestyles and cherish collective mixed-use environments. The Chinese Urban Villages in Shenzhen represent built examples of diverse high-density communities for low-income residents within urban environments facing high economic pressures. Altogether, these examples at different scales will provide architects with a powerful set of ingredients in order to develop high-density, low-income and mixed-use communities for central urban areas.

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