Cynthia Deng and Elif Erez

MArch I

Care Agency: A Ten-Year Choreography of Architectural Repair

Advised by Lisa Haber-Thomson and Lily Song

“El mundo que queremos es uno donde quepan muchos mundos.” 

“The world we want is one where many worlds fit.” 

—Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional 

Our thesis is a dispatch from a possible future. A worldwide moratorium on resource extraction sets the scene for the establishment of a Care Agency, a state-administered public platform that provides free and networked care services in Mexico City. Included in those services is the repair of the built environment. The public solicits care services through Requests for Care (RFCs), a vehicle for the expansion of authorship in spatial design. Here, “repair” does not seek to restore past conditions but adapts to future ones. It is a transformative act of care. In this future, architects are care workers, part of a team of public servants in the Care Agency. This agency recognizes “waste” as an unstable and contrived category as well as a fertile resource, and through the creative labor of collaborators, seeks to redistribute and work with the abundance present in the urban context. In our imagined roles as design fellows within the Care Agency, we develop “patchwork architecture,” a framework and methodology wherein all design is care, repair, maintenance, and reuse. We share this methodology through three case-study sites, each of which had been deemed “waste” by a different value system and thus invite different modes of spatial care: an aging and unprofitable stadium, a topography-defying mansion spaceframe, and a sinking vacant low-rise building. Our dispatch takes form as a series of narratives weaving across time and voices, from sistered beams that share loads, to sistered networks of mutual support with Indigenous roots, telling a story of collective care interventions that undo that waste.

Photo collage

Photograph of 7 architectural models made of wood and foam core in front of a white cloth background.

Animation showing 3 rows of 5 rectangles cycling through different types of materials combined with concrete surfaces.

Animation of a drawing of an aerial view of a cityscape with tiny stick figures of people moving about.

Close-up photograph of interior of an architectural model, showing a room with miniature tables, stools, carpet, and houseplants.