The territories of the unconscious and the sites of architecture have much in common. For the psychoanalysts, Félix Guattari and Suely Rolnik, the favelas of Brazil, often maligned and borne from a complex history, offer us a way of understanding the unconscious and subjective systems of enunciation. In their book of 1982, Molecular Revolution in Brazil, Rolnik and Guattari suggest that architectures of ‘[u]rban systems which are not cities, and rural systems which are not rural’ and those which lack formal planning, such as the favelas, generate insights into the operations of subjectivity itself. Likewise, the famed psychoanalysts suggest the inverse is also true. That is, an understanding of the territories of the unconscious might allow us to better analyse the situation of the favelas. Indeed, Guattari goes as far as suggesting that ‘[a]n experiment totally restricted to the favelas can learn things from the social field that are certainly fundamental.’ This paper will explore the strange intersections of architecture, urban and rural sites and the spaces of the unconscious in Rolnik and Guattari’s Molecular Revolution in Brazil text and will do so in reference to one key ‘experiment totally restricted to the favelas’. The experiment came decades after Rolnik and Guattari’s book, but the connection is both familial and prophetic. Suely Rolnik’s sister, an architect, urban planner, and a UN Special Rapporteur, Raquel Rolnik, embarked upon investigating the favelas that surround São Paolo, what she called both ‘the territories of disorder’ and ‘landscapes for life’. Raquel Rolnik explores the favela as a creative experiment that mobilises site as the place of resistance to financial, property and class structures that homogenise desire. The very notion of site is herein a contested one, one fit for the revolutions of the ‘emergence of people’.
Shervin Jivani, is a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney, in the School of Architecture, Design and Planning. Thesis Work: The Architecture of Proximal Space: A Viscose Quantum between Human-Robot Interaction (HRI), Supervisors: Asst. Prof. Dagmar Reinhardt, Prof. Chris L. Smith, Asst. Prof. Lian Loke.
Dr. Chris L. Smith is the Professor of Architectural Theory in the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. Chris’ research, over the last 18 years, has focused on the nexus of architecture and the body. He locates this nexus between architectural theory, philosophy, and the biosciences. He has published on architectural theory and its dynamic relation with body theory, poststructural philosophy (particularly the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari) and technologies of the body. Chris has also published on the complex intersections of architecture, the biosciences, and medical humanities. Chris is the co-editor of Architecture in the Space of Flows (Routledge, 2012), Laboratory Lifestyles: The Construction of Scientific Fictions (MIT Press, 2019); and is the author of Bare Architecture: a schizoanalysis (Bloomsbury, 2017) and co-author of LabOratory: Speaking of the Science and its Architecture (MIT Press, 2019).