The Emergence of the Dirty: Tele Commerce; Metropolitan Sub-Systems and Parallel Economies

Gabriel Duarte
Department of Urbanism, SPACELAB – Research Laboratory for the Contemporary City, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

Stephan Read
Department of Urbanism, SPACELAB – Research Laboratory for the Contemporary City, Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

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Ingår i: The ESF-LiU Conference Cities and Media: Cultural Perspectives on Urban Identities in a Mediatized World Vadstena; Sweden; 25-29 October; 2

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 20:8, s. 79–92

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Publicerad: 2007-03-06


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Urban mobility infrastructures leave behind spatial residues that generate regions of ambiguous character; often described as blighted. Paradoxically; such regions also offer optimal conditions for normally undesired urban functions that are related to intense mobility of people and commercial goods/services. They are being silently re-born with very specific functions: heavily connected and ’unwanted’ commerce; where the grime of hardware retail; car-repair and small industrial activities can freely happen. This work investigated cases in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in which formal; social and economical conditions led to the emergence of alternative economies affected by politics of exclusion from local planning agencies. Existing economical and social statistics were cross-referenced against topological and geographical analyses. Through diagrams that confronted both quantitative and qualitative aspects; it was possible to recognize how the study areas operate within hybrid urban scales.

By analysing the paradoxical conditions of these areas; it became clear how provisional the contemporary urban social-economical envelope became. The complex negotiations between metropolitan levels and technologies studied here are crucial for a critical shift on how contemporary urban planning operates. Even with a complete lack of public investment; such areas are having an economical performance comparable to more ’established’ locations and an unimagined socio-political representability.


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