Boundary Redundancy: the case of Chihuahua

Jean Baudrillard warned us a long time ago: representation of reality replaced reality.
Last week’s analysis by one of the participants in the MPIA seminar on Collective Spaces at LaSalle (Barcelona), drew an interesting perspective on the discourse of depth configurations and collective space. Oscar Chavez’ study of transformation of a residential neighborhood in Chihuahua, Mexico, illustrated how fear for insecurity, together with the desire to climb the social ladder, transforms our built environment, more than traditional planning principles. He showed how the inhabitants of a couple of streets within one neighborhood decided to close off the streets and (illegally) transform public space into a highly controlled but residual urban space. All owners of a property now pay monthly for a private security guard to exclude unwanted visitors from their neighborhood’s guest list: fences were built, casitas de guardia were constructed, all on public property.

In some cases, however, existing property with dual orientation is now bordered asymmetrically: one side of the property still faces a not (yet) privatized street while another part of that same property does have a “safe” border. This is a clear example of territorial overlap, where a property is defined by dual orientation and where each entrance belongs to a sphere with a different level of collectiveness (in this case a “public” area with no access restriction on one side and a “restricted access” area on the other side). Interestingly enough, unlike the reinforcement on one side of the property, one can still enter from the “dangerous” part: the fencing off cannot produce more safety. Read: territorial overlap becomes a case of boundary redundancy. Other analysis presented that day point in the same direction…
It seems like we’re moving far away from John Habraken’s positive reading of the phenomenon  of territorial overlap in Tunis’ medina…
The act of reinforcing boundaries (and letting people know you did) has indeed replaced the real need for it…

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