Author Archives: Nicholas D'Avella

Nicholas D’Avella is a postdoctoral fellow at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. An ethnographer of contemporary Argentine economic life, he is currently completing his first manuscript, Concrete Dreams: Markets, Politics, and the Lives of Buildings in Post-Crisis Buenos Aires, an ethnographic study of a construction boom following Argentina’s economic and political crisis of 2001. Based on two years of fieldwork with real estate investors, architects, and neighborhood residents, the book describes how buildings were incorporated into post-crisis practices of economic investment, and how other forms of value were made to endure in the face of buildings’ increasingly central place in Argentine economic life.

Another Architecture is Possible: Politics, Value, and Architecture in Argentina

Entering the architecture school at the University of Buenos Aires, students pass under a large banner bearing names and photographs of students and faculty disappeared by the military dictatorship of 1976-1983. Together with texts like Arquitectos Que No Fueron (Novillo 2008)—literally “architects that weren’t”—the banner provokes reflection about an unrealized future for architecture that was imagined and then pressed to within an inch of its life over forty years ago. It asks students to consider their inheritance of that moment: to rethink the present through a past substantially shaped by violence, and to hold open the possibility that another architecture is possible. The technical aspects of architectural design—the mainstay of architects’ day-to-day training—were taught in an environment suffused with political inheritance. I arrived at the architecture school to conduct fieldwork for an ethnographic study of a construction boom that followed Argentina’s 2001 economic and political crisis. My current book project, Concrete (more...)