AVALANCHE is a research project created by TVK, Anjoyi Beltrando and KH Studio, whose aim is to study the major present-day issues facing human beings with regard to inhabiting the planet. By studying regions and worldwide forms of developmental logic, along with their transformations and their vulnerabilities related to the effect of exponential demographic developments, flows, and the exploitation of the environment, AVALANCHE is exploring decisive situations and themes, with an investigative approach.
The Sea is Dissolving the Earth
In an age of urban supremacy and its doxa erecting metropolises as a world-organizing system, the Mediterranean Sea, that space in which was invented one of the most potent formulations of urbanity and the city, is nowadays a dizzy-making place. It is simultaneously a place in which people swim, and a place of death, a burning frontier between north and south. But what makes it a truly paradoxical space—in the direct sense, running counter to the doxa—has to do with the fact that the Mediterranean, which was once an ancestral physical boundary, has become a bridge, as it were, between oceans, an essential link in the world’s new “circularity”. From the ancient paradigm of an inland sea, a basin of unified and domesticated life, we have moved to an open maritime space, which is connected and totally dissolved in the world system.
As a globalizing instrument of the metropolitan process, the maritime system is a product of this, but might also be its gravedigger: the metropolis carries in its genes the factors of its own disappearance. As a basin which witnessed the birth of urban civilization, the first mother-cities, the Mediterranean is part of those world spaces in which an alternative to the metropolis might emerge, one that would free itself from the fundamental conditions of proximity, terrestrial continuity and concentration.
Narratives of Collapse
AVALANCHE is interested in these fictional works, in which urban landscapes—cityscapes—issue from a system of representation and narration. They form an attempt to grasp and inform a contemporary state of the world, marked by acceleration, immoderation, and exponential growth, which gives rise to and manufactures its own threats. They reveal the concerns of our urban civilization with regard to the inhabitability of the sites in which it is established, and the risks intrinsic to terrestrial occupation—living on earth.
Environmental Shocks in Chile
The history of urban Chile is one of relations between human establishments and an extreme geographical setting: a long, thin territory, with an average width of 180 km/110 miles, stretching from Peru to Cape Horn, over a length of 4,300 km/2700 miles. Study of three urban archetypes, confronted, in the course of violent episodes, with major environmental stakes, has made it possible to meet the challenges presented by the human occupation of high-risk regions: Chaiten, a fishing village devastated by a volcanic eruption in 2008; Calama, a dusty, arid mining town in the heart of the Atacama desert; and Constitución, a coastal town which was struck by a tsunami in 2010.
Based on an investigation conducted on the spot in 2014-2015 and a series of interviews with local people (Alejandro Aravena, Rodrigo Araya, Alejandro Guiterrez, Jorge Heitmann, Sofia Sagues and Gabriel Salazar), AVALANCHE’s interest has focused on the way in which these environmental shocks reformulate the kinds of modus operandi underpinning the project and the relation between human occupations and their sites.
Alejandro Aravena (March 2014)
"Future will be about moving backwords, to simple things and not towards complicatedness. We’ll need to move towards things that are irreducible, that can’t get simpler…"
Rodrigo Araya (March 2014)
"We’ve experimented a totally new process for decision taking in spatial issues; a process in which everybody could find it’s own interest."
Jorge Heitmann (March 2014)
"Getting to know how local communities work and function can make us understand the major role the may play in the near future."
“In 1570, twenty years after its colonial foundation, the city of Concepción was destroyed by a violent earthquake. The same scenario recurred in 1658, and again in 1751. After this catastrophe, the original site of Concepción was abandoned and its inhabitants moved to the current site of the regional capital, along the Biobío River, thought to be a tsunami free area.Nevertheless, once again, in 1835, another earthquake destroyed the new city, but the project to abandon this site was not implemented. The modern earthquakes of 1906, 1928, 1939, 1960 (9.5 on Richter’s scale) and 1985 proved that this eventual displacement would have been unuseful.”
Professor and director of the history department of EHESS, Paris
Pierre Alain Trévelo and Antoine Viger-Kohler (partners), Océane Ragoucy (director of strategy, research, development) and David Enon (project manager)