What goes on behind the partitions of a restoration worksite? When is the work really finished? Who defines the future usages of a place that is being restored? Who is the audience who will come to frequent this place? With what resources are public works funded? The opening of Vila Itororó’s restoration worksite is a way of responding to such questions and of pointing to other issues, rendering visible the many decisions that add value to the place being restored and that validate it as heritage.
In Vila Itororó’s restoration worksite the labour of architects, engineers, builders and carpenters are in view. Any person can enter the site and, in this way, cease to be a mere observer in order to become part of this site, as the project’s audience. Among the offices and the working tools, the visitor finds a space under continued construction, which brings to the surface Vila Itororó’s recent struggles and its more distant past, together with its possible futures. This space under construction grows alongside its audience in the midst of debris and restoration works under way.
Everything is under construction in the open site: Vila Itororó’s past and future, with its multiple histories, contradictory and failed; the site where the project’s archive will be available; the technical challenges of restoration that demand the development of innovative techniques; the notion of culture, since Vila Itororó, due to its material and immaterial characteristics, cannot be a traditional cultural centre; the diverse ways of inhabiting Vila Itororó; the development of a public that may come to exist as it uses the place; the division of the labour by the professionals involved in the restoration that creates new ways of working; the management model that São Paulo City Hall intends to develop for Vila Itororó; and even the city itself, which, from the experiences carried out at Vila Itororó, can be built collectively to become a true commons. This space under collective construction and of collective construction functions as a temporary cultural centre, or, better said, as experiment, in real scale, of another kind of cultural centre, which is still to come. It is a laboratory for cities and a space-manifesto to show that there are alternatives to the models prevailing today regarding cultural equipment; that heritage is alive and that it can be activated, independent of its preservation status; and that the future usages of Vila Itororó must be conceived grounded on the experimentations and the public debates that are carried out within the space today.
Public works demand collective construction. This demand is urgent. The city can’t afford to wait for better days in order to, only then, improve. It can change now, starting from what it is and not from what it has been or what it dreams to become one day. Whoever comes to Vila Itororó today can already listen to its story told by architects, urbanists, historians, former and recent dwellers, recent audience, and neighbours; can find the artwork by artists who critically take on the place that Vila Itororó occupies in the city and the place that art takes up in Vila Itororó; can participate in the woodworking workshops; play in the shed; cook; rehearse; study; rest; read or simply walk around; respecting a few flexible rules of living together, but in no need of prior authorisation; because the city is ours; because public places constitute our common heritage; because heritage exists also due to the use value we attribute to it.
In favour of open worksites!