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Trust Us — Architectural panel discussions presented by Openvizor

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.

Urban-Think Tank, spent a year studying the physical and social organization of this ruin-turned-home. Where some only see a failed development project, U-TT has conceived it as a laboratory for the study of the informal. In their “Torre David / Grand Horizonte” exhibit and in their forthcoming book, Torre David: Informal Vertical Communities, the architects lay out their vision for practical, sustainable interventions in Torre David and similar informal settlements around the world. They argue that the future of urban development lies in collaboration among architects, private enterprise, and the global population of slum-dwellers. This film is a call to arms to architects and everyone--to see in the informal settlements of the world a potential for innovation and experimentation, with the goal of putting design in the service of a more equitable and sustainable future.

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Part of the London Design Festival 2012 at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Where: Hochhauser Auditorium
When: 10:30–17:30 Saturday 15th September, 2012

Free and open to the public

In association with Icon Magazine

Trust Us— is organized by Clea Irving and Nathalie Janson, an independent duo active in the expanded field of architecture, in collaboration with Abbas Nokhasteh, Director of Openvizor.


Openness: On Open-Sourcing and Knowledge Sharing
- Dan Hill, Sitra (also see Brickstarter)
- Finn Williams, Commons Office
- Chaired by Shumi Bose, Editor

Ownership: On the Olympic Site and Public Participation
- Esther Everett, London Legacy Development Corporation
- Ian Freshwater, 2012 Legacy, London Borough of Hackney
- William Chamberlain, Hackney Wick Cultural Interest Group
- Alfredo Brillembourg, Urban-Think Tank
- Rose Albrows, Hackney Wick Partnership
- Chaired by Daisy Froud, AOC Participation

Education: On Expanded Practices in Architecture
- Harriet Harriss, Oxford Brookes University
- Eyal Weizman, Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, university of London
- Chaired by Aram Mooradian, ArchEndWorld

Presenter Biographies

Dan Hill, Strategic Design Lead, Sitra (also see Brickstarter)

Dan Hill is a designer and urbanist. Throughout a career focused on integrating design, technology, cities and people, Dan has been responsible for shaping many innovative, popular and critically acclaimed products, services, spaces and strategies. He works for Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund, in their Strategic Design Unit in Helsinki, exploring how design might enable positive systemic change throughout society. Prior to Sitra, Dan was an Associate at Arup, Web and Broadcast Director for Monocle, and Head of Interactive Technology and Design for the BBC. He writes the well known City of Sound blog, as well as being Interaction Design Editor for Domus.

At Sitra, Dan is currently working Brickstarter, a digital interface between institutions and citizens eager to play a part in local decision making. He is also the author of Dark Matter, Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary (Strelka Press, 2012)

Finn Williams, Founder, Commons Office

Finn Williams is a planner based in London. He studied architecture at the Mackintosh in Glasgow, FAUP in Porto, and the Royal College of Art where he was given the New London Architecture prize. Alongside his own practice Finn is deputy leader of Croydon Council’s Placemaking Team, widely recognised as one of the most exciting urban design teams in the UK. He is also Policy Chair of the Friends of Arnold Circus and sits on the London Borough of Tower Hamlets Conservation and Design Panel. Finn co-authored SUB-PLAN: A Guide to Permitted Development with David Knight in 2009.

Shumi Bose, Editor/Curator

Shumi Bose works across publishing, academia and curation in the field of architecture. As part of the curatorial team for ‘Common Ground’, the 13th International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale 2012, she worked with Sir David Chipperfield and Kieran Long to co-edit Common Ground: A critical reader, a literary complement to the exhibition itself. She has studied and taught at both Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and the Architectural Association, where she investigated the emerging effects of digital platforms on architectural criticism and discourse. She has worked at several art and architectural publications and institutions, such as Afterall, The Architects’ Journal and Blueprint in London, and at C-LAB and Storefront for Art & Architecture in New York.

Alfredo Brillembourg, Founding Partner, Urban-Think Tank

Alfredo Brillembourg was born in New York in 1961. He received his Bachelor of Art and Architecture in 1984 and his Master of Science in Architectural Design in 1986 from Columbia University. In 1992, he received a second architecture degree from the Central University of Venezuela and began his independent practice in architecture. In 1993, he founded Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) in Caracas, Venezuela.

Since 1994, Alfredo has been a member of the Venezuelan Architects and Engineers Association and has been a guest professor at the University Jose Maria Vargas, the University Simon Bolivar and the Central University of Venezuela. Starting in 2007, Brillembourg has been a guest professor at the Graduate School of Architecture and Planning, Columbia University, where he co-founded the Sustainable Living Urban Model Laboratory (S.L.U.M. Lab) with Hubert Klumpner.

Along with Hubert Klumpner, Brillembourg holds the chair for Architecture and Urban Design at the Swiss Institute of Technology (Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule, ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. As co-principal of U-TT, Brillembourg has received the 2010 Ralph Erskine Award, the 2011 Holcim Gold Award for Latin America and the 2012 Holcim Global Silver Award for innovative contributions to ecological and social design practices. Alfredo has twenty years of experience with community-based architectural practice, including work with informal design in South America. He comes to this discussion to offer an international perspective on public participation and design.

William Chamberlain, Founder and Chairman, Hackney Wick Cultural Interest Group

William Chamberlain is the founder and Chairman of the Hackney Wick Cultural Interest Group and has been committed to Hackney Wick and it’s surrounding areas, since moving there in 2008. In 2009 he organised the Hackney Wick Creative Industries/Arts Interest Forum which provided an opportunity for organisations and stakeholders as diverse as Space Studios, CIDA, Design for London, Renaisi, EDAW, London Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Invest in Hackney, the Wick Partnership Board and representatives of the local authority to meet with artists and creative practitioners and start the dialogue that would inform all parties of the others needs.

This group still meets monthly as the Hackney Wick and Fish Island Cultural Interest Group. So far the group has influenced both Hackney’s and Tower Hamlet’s area action plans to recognise the importance of the local creative community and the need to provide affordable work/live space for creative practitioners in the development plans of Hackney Wick. The group is now regularly attended by the founding members as well as the London Legacy Development Company, Tower Hamlets, British Waterways and a core group of local businesses and artists, and its an effective lobbying and networking group that encourages collaboration, partnership building and the sharing of resources.

In 2009 William established Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery, supporting the local creative community through monthly exhibitions that showcase local and international established artists and curators as well as newly graduated and early career, across all mediums. The gallery also facilitates a diverse range of high profile creative events such as Films on Fridges, Secret Sundaze, Bio-Object, Scrapclub and I am Braziliality.

Esther Everett, Principal Designer, London Legacy Development Corporation

Esther Everett is a fully qualified, ARB registered architect who was educated at the University of Cambridge and at London Metropolitan University. She worked at several London based architecture practices including Fluid, Hawkins\Brown and MeadowcroftGriffin Architects before joining Design for London as Principal Designer in 2010. She worked in the Lower Lea Valley Team, responsible for delivering the Olympic Fringe Public Realm Programme including the muf public realm projects in Hackney Wick and Fish Island and the recently completed David Kohn designed, White Building Arts and Cultural centre.

Esther is now leading interim use projects situated both in the Park and surrounding areas on London Legacy Development Corporation owned landEsther is now leading interim use projects situated both in the Park and surrounding areas on London Legacy Development Corporation owned land.

Ian Freshwater, Hackney Wick Area Programme Co-ordinator, 2012 Legacy, London Borough of Hackney

Ian Freshwater is a regeneration specialist with over thirteen years of experience of community support, grants administration, project and programme management and community place-making in London with employers such as the Millennium Commission, Greater London Enterprise, the London Development Agency, and within local government.

Employed by the London Borough of Hackney, his current role focuses on Hackney Wick. This encapsulates the drawing together of ongoing public realm, infrastructure and planning projects with the human aspects of place—enabling community projects to flourish, supporting diverse communities to have a voice as part of the 2012 Games legacy, and to ensure the whole community is at the heart of associated planning consultation processes.
Ian is qualified in BA Hons Government and Public Policy Making from the University of Northumbria and, in 2011, was awarded distinction in his Masters studies of Spatial Planning Masters at the Bartlett School of Planning at UCL.

Daisy Froud, Co-Founder and Interpreter, AOC Participation

Daisy Froud is co-founder of multi-disciplinary architecture practice AOC, where she leads the firm’s participation arm. Daisy specialises in devising and implementing tools and processes that allow multiple voices to meaningfully contribute to design and decision-making processes. She particularly enjoys helping diverse groups find common ground and shared priorities in situations where lack of resources or policy constraints pose challenges.

A qualified translator, Daisy has a first degree in languages, an MA in Cultural Memory and teaches on the theory and practice of urban change at the Bartlett. She has just completed a visiting professorship at Yale, where she ran a seminar course on participatory architecture. She is an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism, and an Enabler for The Glasshouse and Built Environment Expert for Design Council CABE, where she is involved with the ‘Neighbourhood Planning Frontrunners’ initiative.

Harriet Harriss, HEA Fellow and Senior Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University

Harriet Harriss runs a ‘live project’ program that partners public sector organisations with architecture students to co-create real-time designs that respond to specific community challenges. This program derives much of its social engagement strategy from her previous role as a director of NESTA funded Design Heroine Architecture (DHA): a niche design practice that focused upon increasing public participation in architecture and co-creating both innovative and responsive spatial projects and design research publications.

Harriet continues to develop socially engaged and interdisciplinary learning programs that enable design students to gain key professional skills whilst pushing the parameters of architectural practice, with a view to enabling the architects of tomorrow to achieve civic engagement and more impactful design responses.

Harriet is currently a visiting professor at the School of Design Strategies at Parsons New School for Design in New York, focussing her current research output on a live project based in Brooklyn entitled, ‘Amplify Soundview’, where students are collaborating with community members to create a toolkit for Partnership for Parks as a means to foster citizen engagement and stewardship in the development and care of public spaces.

Eyal Weizman, Director of the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, university of London

Eyal Weizman is an architect, Professor of Visual Cultures and Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. Since 2011 he also directs the European Research Council funded project, Forensic Architecture—on the place of architecture in international humanitarian law.

Since 2007 he is a founding member of the architectural collective DAAR in Beit Sahour/Palestine. Weizman has been a professor of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and has also taught at the Bartlett (UCL) in London, at the Stadel School in Frankfurt and is a Professeur invité at the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS) in Paris. He has lectured, curated and organised conferences in many institutions worldwide. His books include Mengele’s Skull (with Thomas Keenan at Sternberg Press, 2012), The Least of all Possible Evils (Nottetempo 2009, Verso 2011), Hollow Land (Verso, 2007), A Civilian Occupation (Verso, 2003), the series Territories 1, 2 and 3, Yellow Rhythms, along with many articles in journals, magazines and edited books.

Weizman is a regular contributor and an editorial board member for several journals and magazines including Humanity, Inflexions andCabinet where he has edited a special issue on forensics (issue 43, 2011). He has worked with a variety of NGOs world-wide and was member of B’Tselem board of directors. He is currently on the advisory boards of the ICA in London, the Human Rights Project at Bard in New York, and of other academic and cultural institutions.

Weizman is the recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture Prize for 2006–2007, a co-recipient of the 2010 Prince Claus Prize for Architecture (for DAAR) and was invited to deliver the Rusty Bernstein, Paul Hirst, Nelson Mandela, Mansour Armaly and the Edward Said Memorial Lectures amongst others. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London Consortium/Birkbeck College.

Aram Mooradian, ArchEndWorld

Aram Mooradian is a director of the design firm Studio Faust and a freelance writer on architecture. He trained for a year at Herzog & de Meuron, in Basel. He graduated from the Architectural Association in 2011 with honours for his project ‘Gold Fictions’, which chronicled the financial narratives of the gold market and the contemporary value systems that accompany economic models (tutored by Liam Young and Kate Davies).

He also left the AA with the Dennis Sharp Prize for writing for his essay Fly-In, Fly-Out, Fit-In or Fuck Off. He freelances for Building Design, co-edits the AA’s weekly independent free sheet Fulcrum (alongside Jack Self and Graham Baldwin)and publishes the blog Architecture for the End of the World. He is also currently a member of the Architectural Association's governing council.

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