Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) is an interdisciplinary design practice dedicated to high-level research and design on a variety of subjects, concerned with contemporary architecture and urbanism. The philosophy of U-TT is to deliver innovative yet practical solutions through the combined skills of architects, civil engineers, environmental planners, landscape architects, and communication specialists.
Aiming to ilustrate works of people taking actions in improvement of their enviroment, three films will be screened at the festival: Torre David, Gran Horizonte and MK’S Upstairs Shack.
Torre David, a 45-story office tower in Caracas designed by the distinguished Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez, was almost complete when it was abandoned following the death of its developer, David Brillembourg, in 1993 and the collapse of the Venezuelan economy in 1994. Today, it is the improvised home of a community of more than 750 families, living in an extra-legal and tenuous occupation that some have called a vertical slum.
Where some only see a failed development project, U-TT has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of informal vertical communities.
MK’s Upstairs Shack
Mizukisi Kewana, also known as MK, lives in the township of Khayalitsha on the Southern periphery of Cape Town, South Africa. He is a self-employed handyman, living alone in a double-story shack that he built himself. “Upstairs Shacks” as they are referred to by many residents of Khayalitsha, are rare. Most people occupy single-story structures built out of sub-standard materials. The government has also promised to supply quality housing for all citizens, but their brick homes are expensive, small, and slow to build. Currently they face a 2.5 million housing backlog, a number that is only growing. There is much to learn from the few residents like MK who chose to incrementally build and experiment with different forms and building processes.
This profile is part of a series of on-site interviews and architectural investigations into upstairs shacks. The series was made as part of U-TT/ETH Zurich’s Empower Shack project – an interdisciplinary research and design project that hopes to develop a new system of housing in the informal settlements of South Africa.
Gran Horizonte: Around the Day in 80 Worlds
Compiled with material collected by U-TT Films over the course of three years, this documentary portrays the reality of urban informality around the world, structured in a dream-like dérive of a single day. Asking questions rather than presenting answers, “Gran Horizonte” aims to broaden the perspective of viewers about both the world they live within and the world they could help create.