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Kinshasa, the Imaginary City
Alex Steffen, 12 Oct 04

A winner at this year's Venice biennale, and a show I wish I'd seen, was "Kinshasa, the Imaginary City," at the Belgian Pavillion. It was an attempt to wrestle with questions of how we understand architecture, urbanism and the nature of the city itself in those sprawling megacities which largely lack any of the formal attributes -- from civic buildings to sewer systems to, often, permanent housing -- which we take to make up a city:

as the former capital of belgian congo, kinshasa occupies an important place in the history of belgian architecture and urbanism. ... in a city such as kinshasa, the infrastructure is of a very specific kind. its functioning is punctuated by constant breakdown, by failure and by absence. the exhibition is not, therefore, solely focusing on the city’s material infrastructure or the urban colonial legacy. rather, it comments upon kinshasa’s urbanity, which exists
beyond the city’s architecture.

the city’s main infrastructural unit is the human body.

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