Architecture and urbanism
Costa Rica / Italy

Septembre 2023 à juin 2024


Valeria Guzmán Verri is an architect, researcher and teacher working on interrelations between architecture, graphic and visual culture in regard to knowledge and power relations, with interests in questions of infrastructural space, extractivism, debt and the planetary. 

Associate Professor at the School of Architecture at the University of Costa Rica, she also teaches on the Masters of Arts Programme and the Society and Culture Ph.D Programme with Visiting Academic positions at Southeast University, Nanjing, and the University of Technology in Kingston, Jamaica. 

She holds a Masters and Ph.D. in Histories and Theories of Architecture from the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London and a Diploma of Architecture from the University of Costa Rica. Her latest publication Gifting Architecture: China and the National Stadium in Costa Rica, 2007–11 examines architecture as gift and the burden of reciprocity in the context of China’s diplomatic drive in the Global South.

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Soft Plantations: Diplomacy, Finance and the Construction Industry in Jamaica

A new architecture built by means of concessional loans as agreed between Chinese and Caribbean governments has been reshaping the region with stadiums, highways, hospitals, government buildings and high-rise housing. 

At the start of the twenty-first century, the island of Jamaica functioned as a port of entry for a formula where diplomacy, finance and the construction industry were key operators. Soft loans, lines of credit and Chinese donations on the island were coordinated with the contracting of Chinese companies to execute the projects.

Rather than studying projects in isolation, this research proposes to spatialize this diplomatic-financial formula by analyzing, through the case of Jamaica, a) financial risk and failure, b) repayment modalities, c) substitution, d) debt, and e) resistance, as interconnected dimensions that produce space. This approach is informed by Katherine McKittrick’s proposition that the plantation is an ongoing and “persistent blueprint” implanted into the spatial formation of the modern world, but from which creative spaces of resistance and challenge for reimagining futures continuously sprout out. Drawing on official government sources, interviews with key players and on-site visits, this project explores new relations between architecture and construction, global capital and South-South cooperation, debt, land dispossession and forms of resistance in the Caribbean.


(2023) Guzmán Verri, V; P. Morales Solera & D. Vallejo Arróliga, “When He Speaks: Neo-Pentecostal Space Making in Costa Rica,” Architecture and Culture 11(1), DOI: 10.1080/20507828.2022.2149143

(2022) Guzmán Verri, Valeria. “Territorializations of Dust: surfing, yoga and suffocation in the North coast of Costa Rica.” Figuring Territory, Canadian Centre for Architecture, July.

(2020) Guzmán Verri, Valeria, “Gifting Architecture: China and the National Stadium in Costa Rica, 2007–11,” Architectural History 63, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, 283-311.

(2021) Guzmán Verri, Valeria, “Learning to see, Otto Neurath’s Visual Autobiography,” in Visual Research Methods in Architecture, eds. Igea Troiani and Suzanne Ewing, Intellect Books, UK, ISBN 9781789381887

(2015) Guzmán Verri, Valeria, “En nombre de lo singular: Biomuseo en Ciudad de Panamá,” Dearq, 1(17), 208–217.

(2013) Guzmán Verri, Valeria, “Form and Fact,” Jefferson Journal of Science and Culture 3, University of Virginia: 94-109. ISSN: 2326-1684