Justin McGuirk is a writer and curator based in London. He is the chief curator at the Design Museum and the founder of Design Curating & Writing at Design Academy Eindhoven. He has been the director of Strelka Press, the design critic of The Guardian, and the editor of Icon magazine. In 2012 he was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture for an exhibition he curated with Urban Think Tank. His book Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture is published by Verso.
In 2014 I published a book called Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture. The book documented the work of a particular generation of architects and politicians who were using new approaches to tackle rampant urban inequality. After the impressive state-sponsored housebuilding efforts of the mid twentieth century, subsequent generations witnessed a phenomenal expansion of the slums, and a distinct divide between the “informal” and “formal” city. In the early twenty-first century that divide made Latin America an important testing ground for radical ideas in architecture and urban planning. Though more modest than the super-estates of the 1960s, these projects offered a more sensitive and sophisticated understanding of the urban dynamic and its diverse communities. This new wave of urban interventions, from housing and public spaces to unconventional forms of transport, proved influential the world over. But, a decade on, how is their legacy enduring? Were they the beginning of a new approach to urban inequality or a brief hiatus in business as usual?