Morar de Outras Maneiras (MOM - Living in Other Ways) is a research group based in the School of Architecture at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Their work is concerned with everyday spaces such as dwellings or simple public facilities. MOM try to empower others, seeing architecture as an open process, starting from the design through to building and use. There are no buildings in this work but rather something they call 'instruments' or 'interfaces' that are designed to help all actors involved in the building process realise their own space.
Practice and research in this process are interrelated; one doesn't exist without the other. Their work with people in informal settlements, helping them to build their own homes, happens in conjunction with the organisation of seminars and workshops around the same issue. The architect as one actor within this process is facilitator and mediator, knowledgeable about where to intervene, with whom, but also knowing when to retreat again and when to let go. This is particularly evident in their work with self-builders in the informal settlements of Belo Horizonte. Through their research they have identified a gap between the types of building materials available and the construction techniques that the self-builders use: building products are designed to be used with specialised and expensive equipment on a large scale, not by the individual self-builder. It is in the bridging of this gap that MOM place their own practice, assuming the role of mediator between the self-builder, who has very rarely chosen to build their own home but does so through necessity, and the types of knowledge required to complete a building. Since none of the self-builders would have come to an architect for help, it required MOM to take a proactive approach. Agency here is generated through their going out, realising and researching a certain condition, criticising and questioning the relations of production and their offering of practical advice.
MOM's interventions thus take on a political and ethical meaning: they influence processes by stepping in and affecting their cause through deliberation and negotiation. This is not about the solving of problems, but about posing problems so that all actors involved in the process develop their own power to critically perceive and transform their built environment.
MOM, 'Architecture as Critical Exercise: Little Pointers Towards Alernative Practices', field: 2(1)(2008): 7-29.
'MOM's objective is to investigate processes of housing
production that combine autonomy of inhabitants and direct
constructors, supportive economy and low ambient impact
constructive technologies. The research is destined over all the
people who, today, are producing their housing informally, with the
scarcity of legal, financial or technician resources, or if they
submit to the formal enterprises in which they have little power of
- MOM; http://www.mom.arq.ufmg.br/
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