The right to infrastructure
For almost four years now Adolfo and I have been carrying out fieldwork among various free culture and open-source communities in Madrid, including new media and digital artists, engineers, cultural brokers, architectural collectives, 15M assemblies, etc. Ever since the occupation of Sol on May 15, there is an increasingly shared perception among many of these groups that something very special is taking root in the city: amidst widespread precariousness and crisis, a vibrant, emerging culture of guerrilla and experimental urbanism is taking shape.
I am posting here the pre-print of a text, shortly to see the light in Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, where I offer an analysis of this emerging cultural formation. The paper develops the notion of the ‘right to infrastructure’ as a contemporary configuration of Henri Lefebvre’s famous ‘right to the city’. As it is manifested in Madrid, the right to infrastructure assumes a specific political and experimental moment: that of a prototype, a cultural assemblage ‘in beta’. The text is both an analysis of and a homage to the cultural inventiveness of some of the most remarkable and creative urbanists of our time.
As noted above, the argument developed in this article is a synthesis of work carried out over the past four years in close collaboration with Adolfo Estalella. The notion of a ‘right to infrastructure’ is in many respects a crystallisation of our needs for prototyping, reassembling and infrastructuring our joint fieldwork and reflections. Antonio Lafuente has also been a source of inspiration, support and collegiality. Marcos García, Laura Fernández and the staff at Medialab-Prado, Madrid, first sparked our interest in prototypes, which Adolfo and I since pursued and chased into various urban domains. More recently, we have been very lucky to find in Manuel Pascual & Aurora Adalid (Zuloark), Manuel Polanco Pérez-Llantada & Rubén Lorenzo Montero & Juan López-Aranguren Blázquez & Alberto Nanclares (Basurama), Mauro Gil-Fournier (VIC) and Azucena Klett a fellowship of infrastructural interests.