How architectural innovations migrate across borders

“Our urban crisis is not only economic or environmental, but cultural.”

"As urban areas have exploded, a dramatic stratification is taking place. While some parts of cities have become playgrounds for the privileged, others have become home to the poor and marginalized. Often these two very different ways of life exist in close proximity."

Cruz studies the Tijuana and San Diego border region, where some of the wealthiest communities in America exist just 20 minutes from some of the poorest communities in Mexico. Cruz examines the flows that happen across this border. From south to north, there’s a steady flow of immigrants crossing over into the United States. From south to north flows used materials — like bungalows deemed by wealthy Americans too small for posh neighborhoods, or car parts from vehicles that have been replaced by newer models. “Entire chunks of one place flow to the other,” Cruz says. Cruz is fascinated by how these materials are reconfigured in Tijuana neighborhoods, using incredible creative intelligence. Discarded small homes are placed on stilts, leaving room for a business in a trailer underneath. Old tires are stitched together to make retaining walls. Garage doors become the siding for emergency centers. Space is used for multiple purposes, and it’s used socially instead of the one-house-with-lawn model.

Cruz wonders: Could this kind of creative retrofitting be the DNA for new land-use policies in cities? And doesn’t this mean that citizenship is a creative process?

“We need to move from cities of consumption to neighborhoods of production.”


Teddy Cruz
Credits: nytimes, blog.ted