Felipe Correa’s latest book “Beyond the City: Resource Extraction Urbanism in South America” takes us to a region that architects and urban designers typically have neglected—the hinterland. The South American hinterland provides a unique subject of analysis as it has typically been urbanized for its natural resources, which are tethered back to the coastal cities where these resources are either consumed or distributed to global markets. Within this context, the hinterland is viewed as a frontier whose wilderness is to be tamed, put to work, and territorialized through infrastructure and urban design. Beyond the City provides an insightful look into these processes and the unique urban experiments that emerged in South America. Organized by five case studies, Beyond the City is tied together by what Correa has termed “resource extraction urbanism,” which he links to “new and experimental urban identities in the context of government-sponsored resource extraction frontiers.” Written as a lucid historical account that anchors the discussion within the political, economic, and social context, as well as within global design discourse, the book is also projective—setting the table for a series of questions on how design can act in these landscapes.
In this interview, presented in collaboration with PLANE—SITE, Pierre Bélanger, curator of the Canadian contribution to the 2016 Venice Biennale—explains why Canada's practices of mining and extraction should be carefully understood for their architectural implications. Together with his firm OPSYS, Bélanger conceived of a miniaturized experience of an "inverted territorial intervention" so that Biennale visitors could personally experience and relate to "the complex ecologies and vast geopolitics of resource extraction."
As part of ArchDaily's coverage of the 2016 Venice Biennale, we are presenting a series of articles written by the curators of the exhibitions and installations on show.
At a scale of 1:1 billion, the geological map of the world reveals planetary scales of operation for the largest resource extraction nation on the planet whose foreign policy is borne from legacies as colony, as confederation, country, and now, as global resource empire. In its divine, legal power to separate surface rights from mineral rights, the royal domain of the government—the Crown—exercises supreme authority over 95% of its territory making it the biggest landlord in the world. Not surprisingly, its coat-of-arms, commonwealth, constitution, even its parliament building look practically the same, it shares the same Head of State—Queen Elizabeth II. As the last remaining royal monarchy in the Americas, Canada is the brainchild of Queen Victoria II, the most powerful woman in history, who grew the British Empire to unprecedented magnitude in late 19th century.
With the opening of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale almost upon us, architects, curators and artists have already started to migrate to the city to unlock pavilion doors and sweep out the past six months of hibernation from the previous biennale season. This year, however, one pavilion has confirmed that it will remain closed – the Canadian Pavilion will not be opening its doors. Closure of the space has been attributed to a much-needed renovation, which has been mentioned by those who have exhibited in the space, specifically Shary Boyle at the 2012 Venice Art Biennale. Nevertheless, there are whispers that the political nature of this year’s entry may have been another reason to keep the pavilion shut. That said, Canada will be present by staking claim in the Giardini with a provocative installation entitled Extraction.