Beyond the Barrio: Alfredo Brillembourg

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By John Frankfurt
Venezuela is known worldwide as a hotbed of stellar baseball shortstops. But now, the Caracas Think Tank is making its case for recognition as a leader in urban theory.

In 1993, Alfredo Brillembourg founded the Caracas, Venezuela–based Urban Think Tank, an independent nonprofit group focused on the research and practice of architecture; Austrian-born Hubert Klumpner joined him as codirector a few years later. Urban Think Tank’s most recent project, Caracas Case, was initiated with the Federal Cultural Foundation of Germany. For the project, Urban Think Tank started a residency program where artists, architects, filmmakers, photographers, and philosophers from all over the world would study different aspects of the city of Caracas. Prestel recently published Informal City: Caracas Case, a book that documents the project.

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I first met Alfredo Brillembourg while living in Caracas in the mid-1990s. This past June, I caught up with him in New York, where we met at the Mansion Diner. Over a burger and fries and many sodas, we engaged in a nearly two-hour-long discussion about Urban Think Tank’s approach to Caracas and the role of the architect in the world today.

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