Conflictual Natures: the role of architectural imagination in building paths for ecological transition in the city of Goias – Brasil



environmental conflicts, micro-utopias, design-thinking




The city of Goiás, Brasil, has evolved closely attached to its main River, the Vermelho River. Nevertheless, this relationship was conflictual and changed overtime as nature had different social meanings. Although the city started with the exploration of gold in the margins of the river, this was a dangerous place, occupied by slaves and diseases, so the city developed with its back to the river. In this colonial context, nature was seen on the one hand, as wild and a threat, and on the other hand, it was welcomed in backyards in the form of idyllic gardens that replicated gifts from God in a very catholic society. The 19th century saw a change in the subjective approach to nature. As society modernized, a series of government measures and law aimed to change the relation of the city towards nature as a source of romantic delights. Furthermore, current environmental crisis and subjectivities changes the values of urban nature, and local people engage in practices and new attitudes towards it, from new forms of valorization and conservation practices to new forms of green gentrification and privatization of nature.

Based on a regressive-progressive history of the relationship between the city of Goiás and the Vermelho River, helps to read how what we see as nature evolves together with social relations. In this sense, different approaches to nature can be read as social innovation techniques that creates natures as a socio-natural phenomena. That allows us to conceive an approach to nature as an object of design.

Thus, this paper aims to investigate nature as a social product, unrevealing the different social performances of nature at different moments of history. This grounds a right to nature in the same terms that for Lefebvre the right to the city meant the right to produce the city as a work of art. For exploring this idea, a design workshop in the city developed a photographic analysis to read different aspects of the social perception of the Vermelho River. This allowed to identify conflicting tendencies and views towards nature.

Furthermore, the workshop aimed to explore the potential of micro-utopian perspectives to articulate counter-hegemonic approach to conceive political green transitions. In this sense, a micro-utopian perspective aimed to overcome utopia as an apolitical and abstract approach. For this it explored utopia in a dialectical approach, exploring the immanent potentials of the place in close relation to new conceptual perspectives, such as the commons, dark ecologies and post colonial perspectives. The aim was to investigate how these practices could challenge the reproduction of relations by the social performance of our ideas of nature, exploring how ideas of nature objectifies complex social relations. Ultimately, this perspective contributes to establish benchmarks for alternative modes of practice and to construct a socially active approach to ecological transition strategies.

Author Biographies

  • Antonio di Campli, POLITO

    Assistant Professor at Interuniversity Department of Regional and Urban Studies and Planning (DIST/POLITO)

  • Elisa Veri

    Architect and Urbanist

  • Rishabh Srivastava, POLITO

    Master student at POLITO


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Latour, B. (2004) Politics of nature: how to bring the sciences into democracy. London: Harvard University Press.

Morton, T. (2016) Dark ecology: for a logic of future coexistence. New York: Columbia University Press.