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Environmental Architecture (MA)

Antonio del Giudice

Antonio del Giudice is an architect and independent researcher currently based in London. 

His work focuses on processes of commoning, environmental conflicts and design strategies that promote democracy and inclusivity with the aim to undermine crystalised and conservative power structures.

Before joining MA Environmental Architecture at the RCA he has worked with different architecture practices, like architecten de Vylder Vinck Taillieu and June14 Meyer-Grohbrügge & Chermayeff.

For centuries indigenous communities living in the northern regions of Chile have been facing the continuous threat of losing their land due to the invasive presence of the mining industry which, together with the right wing political coalitions are conscious inheritors of the Pinochet constitution.

Through the use of different media and through interactions with the people on the front line, I have attempted to reveal the complex apparatus of multiscalar issues and policies that render indigenous life in their ancestral territory an every day struggle. The first part of this work focus on the way government regulation over land and resources, has generated a series of disputes that are forcing people to leave their hometown in order to seek better life conditions.

I have also dedicated a particular attention on how the Chilean educational system has failed so far to understand indigenous culture and what are the different measures, economic policies and social inclusivity measures put in place for that part of the student body that belongs to indigenous groups.

The first part of this project aims to show how knowledge and territorial presence or performed territoriality, as Gabrielė Grigorjevaitė argues in her work “Territorial disputes and the neo-extractivist paradigm”, are being eradicated and made disposable for the benefit of industries and the conservative right-wing agenda of the last government coalitions.

The last section, the design strategy, speculates on the architectures and territorial tactics that may emerge through processes of listening, tracing and drawing together, virtually and physically, with those living on the front lines of social and environmental conflict in Chile. 

Interview with Rolando Humire CocaRolando is a biochemist. He was the President of the Consejo de Pueblos Atacameños, and in that position led the negotiations with the Chilean government for the regulation of lithium extraction facilities in the Atacama Salt Flat. This interview was also part of the Lithium exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.
Second part of the interview with Rolando Humire Coca
Internal migration The lack of future prospects for youngsters and actual educational alternatives, that try to include the important situated knowledge and secular practices of the Atacameños communities has forced families to move out of small towns and seek new opportunities somewhere else. Traditional knowledge, daily practices and spiritual connection with the territory start to vanish. Intergenerational gaps tend to become wider when only the old members of the family hold on to their places and community practices
Interview with Claudia MonteroClaudia Montero is an archaeologist and researcher. She coordinated the archeologic area of the Fundación patrimonio desierto de Atacama until February 2021.
Ongoing mining operations in Tarapacà and Antofagsta
Registered environmental disputes in Tarapacà and AntofagstaMining operations are obviously not only limited to the Salt Flat, as we can understand from the exploration map. A number of routes that are used during ceremonies and rituals that lead people from the salt flat to Socaire, near the Nacimiento Gorge, are now also occupied by heavy machinery and trucks sent there for mining explorations.

The concatenation of social and environmental conflicts in a regions like the Atacama desert is clearly not a fertile ground for what the ILO (Internation Labour Organisation) convention n.169 has set out in 1989 regarding education and means of communication: "Article 27 stipulates that education programs for indigenous peoples shall be developed and implemented in co-operation with them to address their specific needs. such programs shall incorporate their histories, knowledge, technologies, values systems, and their social, economic and cultural aspirations."

Familiar places
Quebrada Nacimiento
The Puricamani
The Nacimiento gorge

It is of vital importance to understand that, even when sharing similar rituals and customs, the multitude of indigenous communities living at the feet of the Andes or in the quebradas do not all belong to the same group. In fact, the northern region of Tarapacá, where the poblado de Huatacondo (people of Huatacondo or Huatacondinos) is situated, is where the Aymara are the largest indigenous group, together with the Mapuche who are most dominant in the south of the country.

The Aymara often inhabit the Andes Cordillera and the Altiplano, and have for centuries walked across the two mountain chains, living in semi-nomadic communities between what are now considered the Bolivian and Peruvian borders. There are different and various ways through which people relate and understand their territory, generating kinship bonds with the living and non-living beings.

Annual calendar
New collective equipments

The program of this new pedagogical platform should not be considered as fixed and permanent, but can vary depending on locations and environmental conditions. In fact, this network is conceived as an open device which always aims to adapt to the continuous feedback flow. Humans, weather, soil condition, social agreements, design feasibility so on and so forth are active parts of the strategic approach which will characterise this platform.

As the physical infrastructure will take place in different locations, unfolding itself with different spatial characteristics, so will the curriculum and the program in order to avoid dynamics like crystallisation of power/authority and homogenisation.

New and existing collective equipments in Socaire axonometric section (real dimensions 297 x 84 cm)
Quebrada Nacimiento
The orchard as classroom
New infrastructure alongside the canal system
A new public space for Socaire
The dormitory
The dormitory and the cultivation terraces

‘In this non-anthropocentric vision of a theatrical geography, the earth is perceived as a composite of intelligent, transformative forces. This active earth establishes different perceptual fields for its inhabitants than those of the technological West. Human beings see themselves not as controlling geography, but as interacting with the earth to form ever new, reciprocally generated, heterotaxic, many dimensioned “charts,” always with qualitative, sacred, ritual, metaphoric, rhythmic implications. Dancing and singing enact and reconfigure the circumambient topocosm.’

Claudette Kemper Columbus - Map, Metaphor, Topos, and Toponym: Some Andean Instances.