In the first session of the Manhattan Fall Studio on “Messy Urbanism” Juan Camilo Rodelo showed a series of pictures about
a messy neighborhood of his city Barranquilla, Columbia where there are primarily the remnants of a random and neglected city.
In an area with a chaotic fabric of the usual kind of South American intense, teaming urban wear-and-tear, weathering, decay mixed with city efforts to fix, clean-up, and modernize pockets of the neighborhood for the usual attempts of urban improvement, Rodelo showed a compact impression of a typical contemporary, urban entropy. The vital entropy of this part of the city of Barranquilla between the usual life-forces of anabolism and catabolism shows a typical world-wide dynamic of entropic flux between poor and rich people and poor and rich architecture and poor and rich planning. We rarely see it this way but Rodelo brings up the critical shift of urban measurement and evaluation directly across judgmental yardsticks so that the idea of poor and rich is not just a mere split between people without money and people with money but finds and offers a sociological, economic, physical, spatial and urban semiotic shift back-and-forth across this divide as its own kind of integrating, binding and energetic generative zipper.
The neighborhood of perpetual decay and growth is shown by Rodelo as the start of a substantive working model for capturing, ordering, analyzing, measuring and evaluating apparent urban chaos and messiness a model not just of a social accuracy but also as a model for political understanding, the acceptance and then a liberated tactical action so that forces and principles of human and natural randomness, chaos, and dialectical differences are fostered in a mix of contrast, complexity, and awesome spontaneity. It is hard to know if spontaneous people make a spontaneous architecture and city — or if the spontaneous city forms and makes people become spontaneous?