In an unstable economy, an active core of Arquitectos Buhoneros  or 'Street Vendor Architects' subsists on government sponsored projects and small renovations.

Goethe said that "architecture is frozen music," but in Caracas it is more accurate to say that architecture is frozen politics. Each section of this fragmented society has its own set of values that are reflected in the disparate morphologies of the city. Developed in an unplanned building process and without architects, the barrios have become a myriad of overlapping small cities within the larger urban fabric. Caracas's modern treasures are all but forgotten. The fragmented city of Caracas resists the conventional European and American urban plan. Caracas wrestles with the politics of limited infrastructure. The life of the individual is paradoxically better than ever before, despite treacherous living conditions. READINGS
Torn between two cultures and two different physical surroundings, Carlos Raúl Villanueva had a vision of integration and synthesis which he would seek for the rest of his life. By Silvia Hernández de Lasala For Henry-Russell Hitchcock writing in 1955, Venezuela was rapidly becoming the newest area of architectural achievement in Latin America. Poem by Gustavo Brillembourg from the book 'Song to the Mountain'





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11/08/02

On the one hand, the unregulated, organic, need-driven growth of the barrios has produced sustainable and efficient community models. Yet the resulting 'city' is chaotic, unstable, and unsafe. Urban planners have found European and American models to be irrelevant. What's the solution?

12/12/02
These elite "barrios" thus eliminate the presence of buhoneros (street-traders) and other allegedly "dangerous" elements of the urban scene. Alas, they also represent in physical form the segregation that is ever more present in major cities, reflecting the results of social polarization: the rich with lavish homes and armoured cars well-protected, the poor in ranchos and on the streets. The future looks bleak, leading progressively to an even more divided Caracas.
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1/13/03
It seems short sighted to consider a solution. The study has laid before us a good summary, as general as it is, of the situation in caracas. What I believe the next step should be is to ask questions: how can a government on the brink of collapse and with only corrupt, oligarchic precedence be influenced into addressing issues that a global economy will put before it? how can the same government civilize a population where more that 80% lack schooling? where several million live as undocumented immigrants whose rights are refused or abused?
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1/17/03
I've been fascinated by the same occurrence. Barrios seem to lack anything we architecturally consider to be "adequate" urbanism, but then again when architecturally designed urbanism tends to create "dead cities". Maybe our concept of adequacy is in need of refinement.
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