fenomenos en el 2006

1. Mini centro comerciales en forma de "L". se ven en esquinas con estacionamiento al frente y comercios en edificios genericos en forma de escuadra. Tipologia del centro comercial sub urbano de los 70's tipico de Los Angeles. Lamentable que algunos de los edificios del centro con caracter urbano (fachada al frente de la calle) se estan demoliendo para construir estos fenomeno del suburbio. Si seguimos asi el centro de Tijuana se convierte en un mar de estacionamientos donde los pocos espacios urbanos desaparecen.

2. Mas desarrollos de vivienda (cientos) sin proyecto social. Hacer casas no es hacer cuidad. En los utlimos años los desarolladores construyeron cientos de viviendas (algunas no aptas para la ONU) destruyendo las pocas areas verdes naturales de Tijuana.
Proyectos que en unos años causaran problemas viales y sociales a tijuana, por la falta de "planeacion urbana" donde el estilo de vida y vida social no son factores.
Se les llama Proyectos Urbanos, cuando son solo copias de un suburbio "proyectado" hace 40 años en alguna ciudad norte americana. lo que se hace en tijuana es un copy-paste de ese modelo con su clasicas Cul de saqs.

3. Enclaves. Los fraccionamientos mas "seguros" de Tijuana. Vivir en areas de seguridad bardeadas con camaras. La elite de tijuana se mantiene separada de la cuidad. Los que vivimos fuera de sus bardas de seguridad somos delincuentes. El fonemo NIMBY en Tijuana.

4. El deterioro de las colonias originales de Tijuana. El municipio no mantiene ni promueve el regreso e inversion de las zonas establecidas de Tijuana. Prefiere dar permisos para desarrollos nuevos que se deterioran en pocos años por la falta de planeacion decente.

*cul de saqs y Nimby son terminos universales del urbanismo.


En la platica navideña

Conversando sobre los musicos de Tijuana mi madre menciona " Tu Tio Beto era muy buen pianista pero murio joven (36) - cada vez que venia el Cubano Bola de Nieve a Tijuana pedia que lo acompañara tu tio en el piano".


Avatar n. 6
Dislocazioni tra antropologia e comunicazione, n. 6, dicembre 2006
Fulvio Carmagnola: Design. Uno sguardo da fuori; Denis Santachiara: Nuovi destini del design; Kram e Weisshaar: Breeding Tables; Richard Coyne: Inflecting Space; Sérgio Bairon: Sound Textures and hypermediatic interactive environments; Aniko Meszaros: The Plant Anima Project: Biotechnology, Psychotechnology, and Aesthetics; Rene Peralta: Drag and Drop Urbanism: thoughts on the strategies of the generic; Coco Fusco: At your service: Latin Women in the Global Information Network; Fiamma Montezemolo: Eco fronteriza a Tijuana; Lorenzo Imbesi: Il design del s-oggetto; Flavio De Giovanni: Playing design 1.0; Daniela Ranieri: La plastica dell’esperienza; Francesco Warbear M. Palmieri: Indysign; Massimo Canevacci: Opus-design.

Drag and Drop Urbanism: Thoughts on the Strategies of the Generic.

Plug and Play

Currently the discussion concerning the legitimization of critical practice is a paramount issue in architecture today. Two paths demarcate the contemporary constraints of practice; one concerning a process of architecture for architecture’s sake, the other a redefinition of architecture toward a more glo-cal condition.

The 90’s brought about a cusp in critical practices in architecture that indulged in French theory by way of the diagram as a mechanism for the process of design. Many practices developed into a structuralist approach to the discipline without modernist social ideals, as well as separating themselves from Deconstruction and Pomo’s critique of modernism. Critical practices have a space of development, most often in a capitalistic environment enabling them to “research” techniques into novel modes of production. Technological advances in computer modeling and prototyping are a major influence within these types of practices and tend to be sometimes the primary concern, as described in their rhetoric. The instruments available for achieving critically are in some cases related to socio-economic systems that allow them to function as research laboratories separated from being prescriptive or socially applied ideas.

The instruments in some contexts are not readily available for the making of a critical practice, or in most cases, they are extremely different. Within this difference exists the necessity of reconfiguring practice to an “alternative” form, which enables technique and application to engender projects within a local system as well as reevaluating global conditions within that system. A “looping” practice that operates in and out of the realities of context and the perceptions of reality within academia. Take the history of American jazz for example with an origin situated between African drumbeats and European musical structures, two distinct and local manifestations. Later in the beep bop era becoming a highly articulate and experimental where a theoretical base began to emerge as musicians expanded the harmonic limits of past jazz styles. Players had to have a greater and immediate sense of chord recognition, as well as their extensions and possible substitutions (1). Its contemporary condition can be performed with highly specific addendums of interpretation, arranging variations according to local genres, hence soul jazz, Afro-Latin jazz, Brazilian jazz etc. A new generic structure yet with diverse grafting possibilities, a practice as a plug and play device.

The relationship of the concept of city and practice becomes again correlative. Alternative practices are in constant mutation becoming multidisciplinary, a kind of hypertext device referencing back and fourth into anthropological, artistic and other social conditions inherent within the political space of the city. Practice in this form becomes as much a project in itself, being responsive to the deterritorialization and reterritorialization of hybrid cultures. Therefore, practice takes another role in the interpretation of place - it measures associations. Changing the fundamental emphasis to flows, rather than to the spaces and structures (2)

Drag and Drop

In urban settings, a swap meet operates in and out specific urban conditions as a type of virtual device in which systems of exchange enable a series of informal ephemeral acts of assemblage, public space in a pure sense. Up or plugged into city infrastructure early mornings, to be later used, consumed and played with all day. This ephemeral spatial conglomerate is a type of plug in city, a meshwork of exchanges without architecture; it just needs four poles and a tent, a generic formal condition that enables a layering of spatial frames in a cinematic mode. As the despatializing of the local reinterprets the concept of the city, the notion of urban space is being restructured by global circumstances. As in many other urban conditions, the contemporary city is complex and unfathomable. Therefore, this network of exchanges predominates in some cases as a primordial diagram for a linear, radial, or organic city – or generically - swap meet urbanism.

Generic food, generic drugs and generic cities, what then constitute a generic space? There have been several definitions of the urban generic from a non-place envision by Marc Augé to the multi cultural mix described by Rem Koolhaas. Yet the generic city is as evasive as its name proclaims it to be. It is everything to everyone. The generic is a social form; social space that endures change from within and not just becomes an effect of global conditions. The generic functions in the threshold of stability and volatility; it is a “liminal” condition where the local coincides with the global (3). The generic can be highly specific and multiple and at the same moment able to be applied beyond its intimate location. Within this generic fabric, exists threads that interweave and coalesce into heterogeneous social forms.

Within these nodes, the possibility of other operational structure gives way to events, flows and structure. A good example would be to look at the city of Tijuana as a generic city. Since its conception, it has been operating within the threshold of global and local conditions. Its geographic location creates situations that translate into flows throughout the city. Instances of illegality have been a major drive forming its dystopian condition, a diagram of design. An illegality in form of land invasion, civil disobedience, and other forms of resistance. It is said that more than 50% of Tijuana’s development began as invasions of property (4). This illicit behavior has woven itself into multiple spaces, each with its distinct form of identity, that as of today has produced the most heterogeneous places within the city. Yet the conflict arises when these informal and rhizomatic systems of development are confronted with “designed” spaces promoting a solution to the impetus diagram of illegality. Serialized housing for hundreds of thousands of people, using methods of mass manufacturing that again produce mono-logical containers, a homogenous archipelago, where the pursuit of diversity is again an illicit endeavor. These communities where part of a drag and drop urbanism that after ten years have struggled to break away from totalitarian claws of urban planning and design rules. The spatial differences between both spaces vary in that one is capable of absorbing and constructing out individual perceptions of what constitutes a city, hence multiple images with plural interpretations. While “design” has brought about a condition of entropy within serialized communities and individual needs and wants have to be a form of resistance against conformity. Size, boundaries and the concept of ownership are part of the discrepancies found within both models. A typical serialized development is made up numerous enclaves, for example, the oldest developments of this kind are approximately composed of eight sections. Their limits are defined, yet the concept of ownership is redefined to systems of credit - you don’t own your land or your house. While in the informal communities, the city bureaucracy has not been able to “legalize” them because of their constant flux. In this case boundaries are negotiated between each member of the community, I take this much land but we share this much to have access to our homes. Ownership is achieved through a system of channels of communication. Therefore, the boundaries within informal developments change due to the constant reorganization of the area.

Tijuana is a generic playground because it does not have a past, a history, it is a true modern city without utopia, there is no image and there has never been one. It is this reason that image is a four letter word. If there is something critical of Tijuana is a crisis of identity in relationship to the urban, due to global phenomena. This specific condition which could be described or compared in universal terms with the predicament of generalizing certain conditions within context if we take a synthesis approach to urban issues. What is need is a quantum theory approach to urbanism. Practices in Tijuana are invalidated to become critical because the instruments for their endurance do not exist. An alternative must be negotiated, either through multidisciplinary approach, as others have been doing in South America, or through “looser” practices that shy away from a structuralist concerns and reintroduce mechanisms to make practice once again a cultural activity. Alternative practices must then renegotiate their relationship to the current critical discourse and the despatialization of place, and other conditions that disassociate objects with society

Save and Exit

While waiting in line to cross the border from Tijuana to San Diego I was gazing at the silly plaster figurines and all the other copyright infringed products sold at the “swap-meetesque” stands. I then immediately thought of the how the city, apart from being constructed of illegal acts of urbanism, is also made of copy/paste constructions.
La mona, la bola, las torres, colloquial names given to a series of pseudo monuments found in the urban landscape of Tijuana. Generic names for highly iconic objects that within other contexts have specific meaning, yet in Tijuana they have become blank canvass of assorted interpretation. As you drive by them you distinguish their freakish resemblance to other familiar icons sited somewhere in a modern metropolis, from NY to Sao Paulo. They belong to a family of imposter icons, such as the Bart Simpson, Incredible Hulk and Mickey Mouse, plaster statuettes sold to tourist waiting in line to cross the border. They represent artificiality at a grand scale, a need to embody a replicated communal narrative. Their generic description is a negation of their figurative representation making way to a sort of diagrammatic reading that enables a looping of diverse correlations.
In a series of paired black and white photographs, titled Mal-Hitos a well-known Tijuana artist juxtaposes the authentic against the forgery, in a mug shot format that exposes their culpability of stolen identity. Even though they impersonate monuments that through decades have acquired a deep-seated symbolism in their distinct cultural environment, they have become affirmations of the longing Tijuana has for a past and desire for urban artifacts. Their only crime, in their short and dislocated existence, is forming part of a simulated collective memory.

As I crossed into San Diego to teach my course on swap meet urbanism, teaching is part of my alternative practice as well as my alternative income, I realized I was crossing into a distinct generic condition, a hyper-designed generic of sameness due to an absence of myth and imagination. San Diego is the counter part of Tijuana - its anti-thesis, yet it is the reason why Tijuana exists. Its image has always included a symbiotic relationship with nature –a rural image. Its communities are isolated places of simulation. In the 1970’, Kevin Lynch made a study that addressed the both cities as a region in a report appropriately named Temporary Paradise, another simulation of homogenization. San Diego has become an earthly paradise yet with perimeter wall and militarized border.
As I left the checkpoint in San Ysidro, I become conscious I had to save my thoughts on the specificities of Tijuana as I exited into the vast and sublime space of the California interstate freeway.

1 William P. Gottlieb, “The Golden Age of Jazz: Text and Photographs”
Pomegranate Communications; California, 1st ed. edition, 1995

2. Arjun Appadurai, “The Right to Particpate in the Work of the Imagination”, in Transurbanism, Edited by Joke Brouwer, Arjen Mulder, Laura Martz. V2_Publishing/NAI Publishers, Rotterdam, 2002.

3. According to Victor Turner the liminal or liminality is a condition of being in between states. "Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention, and ceremonial" Liminality is a form of anti-structure a catalyst for social change, liberation of the imagination from normative constraints
See, Turner, V. (1969). “The ritual process: structure and anti-structure”. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co.

4. Tito Alegría y Gerardo Ordóñez. “Legalizando la Ciudad: Asentamientos Informales y Procesos de Regularización en Tijuana”.
Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Tijuana, B.C. México,2005.

5. Mal-Hitos, 11x 17, black and white photographic prints. Artist: Melisa Arreola.
Exhibited during Foto-Septiembre at the Tijuana Cultural Center, September 2003.


Black Dog Publishing, London

Authors: Fiamma Montezemolo, Rene Peralta and Heriberto Yepez

“Like a ying yang symbol, the border has become less straight, less a knife edge and more a twirling, blurring line of transgressions(...) an evolving cultural mix of blood, money, economies, cuisines and territories.”
Neil Denari

Tijuana is a border-town in all respects. It hovers between Mexico and the United States, not just physically, but psychologically. On the one hand it maintains its reputation as a sleezy centre for booze, sex and crime, and on the other it aspires to, and is slowly achieving, the sophistication and affluence of California–just a few miles and another world away.

Divided into three sections, Here is Tijuana! deals with the socio-cultural issues, the morality and the urban development of the city. Beautiful photographic essays accompany the text and bring the city to life. The book will be published in two editions–Spanish and English. Through words and images, Here is Tijuana! captures the spirit of a fractured city with a split identity.


394 colour and b/w ills
25 x 21 cm
1 904772 45 5
UK £19.95

February 2006


Unas calaveritas jazzeras

A todos los músicos que hicieron de esta Tijuana un "happening" del jazz de 1920- 1960

A Jelly Roll Morton (pianista) trabajo en el bar Kansas City en TJ y compuso el Kansas City Stomp y Perl dedicada a un mesera llamada Perla.

Al- bárbaro del ritmo -el gran Beny More que trabajo en TJ en el Ciros en 1945-46.

A Charlie "Bird" Parker (saxofonista) que se caso en Tijuana con Doris June Sydnor en 1948

A Charles Mingus (bajista) y su Tijuana Moods, disco que lo considero como unos de su mejores.

Al gran compositor y cantante Jose Antonio Méndez que paso por estos rumbos.

A Gary Mcfarland que grabo con Clark Terry Tijuana Jazz en 1965

Al pianista Bill Evans que tocaría en Tijuana en los 70's.

A mi padre Rodolfo Peralta "el plato" pianista de los Travelers

A mi tío Humberto Peralta (Tío Beto) considerado por algunos jazzistas de la cuidad como el mejor pianista que ha tenido Tijuana.

A mi Abuelo Pedro Peralta Músico de la orquestra del Agua Caliente.

Y muchos mas...

Para aquellos que decían que en Tijuana no había cultura, había y de la buena! Mas allá de los proyectos culturosos de la miseria y estéticas de la pobreza tan fáciles de promover hoy.

To be continued...



La Dimensión mínima de pieza habitable será de 2.70 centímetros y su altura será cuando menos de dos metros treinta centímetros.

Publicada en el Periódico Oficial No. 16, de Fecha 10 de Junio de 1976, Tomo LXXXIII
Sección Ira.

2.70 x 2.70

In architecture, there exists an ontological difference in the interpretation of graphics. We can “read” them in dialectical terms as drawings or as diagrams of conceptual relationships and meanings, which constitutes them. 2.70 x 2.70* proposes to reverse this set of conditions from a spatial geometry to a space of memory. Gaston Bachelard explains that the house is experienced in its reality as well as in its virtuality, by means of memory and dreams. For each individual the house is a voyage of experiential history and desires. We amass our experiences in spaces and take them with us as we move along from place to place. The house is not only lived physically, but also in our imagination. Since childhood, our house is where we learn to daydream. Our house is our universe.

Space is social and political; it has always been embedded with an idyllic desire. Drawing has been the mechanism that drives the text and geometry constructs the allegory. Any spatial practice, geographic or ethnographic, constructs our meaning of social life .When geometry becomes the diagram of our lived experiences, we live our drawings. It is this dualism in the production of space, our house/home, drawing/diagram, that constitutes our reality as architects.

2.70 x 2.70 is more than a description or dimension of space, it asks the viewer to suspend observation and read into the quadrangle his/her individual memories of home, of the corners, cracks, odors and other objects that now inhabit his/her memory and intimacy. If what we see is in this work is a house, an exercise in spatial efficiency and economy, does it have the adequate space for imagination and memory, our simply to just daydream. If each room of our house is a space of experience, as horizontal vessel of memory or a vertical assurance of shelter a” roof over our heads”, perhaps these four walls represses and neglect our intimacy and instead of producing memory they threaten our ability to dwell into our personal universe.

R. Peralta

* 2.7x2.7 is a multimedia installation by Monica Arreola based on the minimum dimensions (by Tijuana building code) for rooms in residences built by developers. Sometimes only one room meets the size regulation performimg different functions such as kitchen, living room, dining room, etc. The installation will be presented in Monterrey in November 2005.


If in San Diego Temporary Paradise exits, in Tijuana we have Paradise Express!
como me decidí escribir sobre otro tema para una revista gringa que me pidió un texto sobre Tijuana - y en Tijuana todo se recicla -este queda para el blog.

Drag and Drop Urbanism

In the last twenty years the east side of Tijuana has grown beyond its critical mass, housing conditions have moved from being self built favelas to a phenomena of overnight density – drag and drop suburbs are becoming the normative housing strategy for the working class. If a certain hybridism represented the informal self-built shacks, these mono-logical constructions include seriality, production-line planning and non-place iconography, as part of their pedigree.
Stockholm, Lisbon, Madrid, London in addition to literary masters such as Velarde, Cervantes, Dante, Sartre, Victor Hugo, title most streets of gated sectors, names that are supposed to stimulate a sense of cultural awakening. The community must then imagine that their planners, these avatars of sprawl, perceive culture as a bourgeois European vacation or a mere psychological fairy-tale voyage, becoming a non-attainable construction element that is valued engineered and with a short spreadsheet life.

A vast accumulation of housing units left behind to develop into a city by their own willpower. What is fascinating is the determination of the population to appropriate urbanism and model it through their own idiosyncrasies.
As in other previous histories of the city, illicit acts of urbanism are still the fundamental modus operandi to transgress enforced homogeneity of design guidelines, which pretend to establish a general image of a simulated townscape. It is here where the majority of Tijuana’s maestros are employed to assist the transformational process. Waiting in public spaces for drive-by employers that solicit their services according to their skills and expertise, posted in the maestro’s cars, which not only function as transportation, but also as storage, workshop, and advertising billboard. In Tijuana, the box has endured all rhetorical debates and owing to the ability of operational performance the Tijuananense achieves with this ecology, it has empowered residents of Villa Fontana to reconfigure it and multiply it, with imagination and craft.
A constant condition of the unit housing box is its transformative capacity, inside and out, from a strict residential code to an assortment of “illegal” programs. The base is not only a physical datum, but also a hardware that acts as a platform allowing programmatic architectures to operate. They are plugged in with necessary installations to re configure their use; water store, mini market, internet café, tarot reader, and countless other uses that cater to basic needs as well as to sustainability, hopes and desires. The new spaces and functions of the generic box allows primarily, to maintain a family structure allowing members to share their home (initially most of the houses built have two small bedrooms) and secondly to incorporate an alternative source of income by the way of a commercial venture.
It is here where technology performs as second infrastructure, a personal urbanism, allowing a network of activities such as communication, entertainment and job search and various functions. Cell phones, computers, satellite antennas, all gadgets, purchased in mercados sobreruedas, markets on wheels, that in themselves are ubiquitous plug and play devices within the city, who’s function is to transform some undifferentiated set of circumstances to a condition nearer human desires (Banham).
Like in any other developer project, gates and metal bars are part of a collective sense of security. Bars work as a macro economy that enables distinct areas of homes to organize into enclaves, and at a micro scale in the house themselves securing windows doors and some times trees from thieves and vandals. The permeability of the bars permits light and ventilation, and allows a view or dyslexic gaze through the ornamental bars. Landscape of the community is made of serifs and other motifs that configure a baroque pattern on the design of the bars, in some cases becoming the only “organic” topology in the field of view.

Tijuana - From the free formed to the automated, the urban to the post urban.


Plug and Play

The swap meet is a plug and play device in which system of exchanges enable a series of informal ephemeral acts of assemblage, public space in a pure sense. Up or plugged into the city infrastructure early mornings, to be later used, consumed and played with all day. This ephemeral spatial conglomerate is a type of plug in city, a meshwork of exchanges without architecture; it just needs four poles and a tent, a generic formal condition that enables a layering of spatial frames in section.
As the concept of the city is reinterpreted by the despatializing of the local, the notion of urban space is being restructured by global circumstances. As in many other urban conditions, the contemporary city is complex and unfathomable. Therefore, this network of exchanges predominates in some cases as a primordial diagram for a linear, radial, or organic city – or simply - swap meet urbanism.


Art is Art
Everything Else is Everything Else.

Ad Reinhardt

foto angel benson



La mona, la bola, las torres, colloquial names given to a series of pseudo monuments found in the urban landscape of Tijuana. Generic names for highly iconic objects that within other contexts have specific meaning, yet in Tijuana they have become blank canvass of assorted interpretation. As you drive by them you distinguish their freakish resemblance to other familiar icons sited somewhere in a modern metropolis, from NY to Sao Paulo. They belong to a family of imposter icons, such as the Bart Simpson, Incredible Hulk and Mickey Mouse, plaster statuettes sold to tourist waiting in line to cross the border. They represent artificiality at a grand scale, a need to embody a replicated communal narrative. Their generic description is a negation of their figurative representation making way to a sort of diagrammatic reading that enables a looping of diverse correlations.

In a series of paired black and white photographs titled Mal-Hitos (shown above), Melisa Arreola juxtaposes the authentic against the forgery, in a mug shot format that exposes their culpability of stolen identity. Even though they impersonate monuments that through decades have acquired a deep-seated symbolism in their distinct cultural environment, they have become affirmations of the longing Tijuana has for a past and desire for urban artifacts. Their only crime, in their short and dislocated existence, is forming part of a simulated collective memory.

La mona, la bola las torres, nombres coloquiales que describen una serie de pseudo monumentos localizados en el paisaje urbano de Tijuana. Nombres genéricos para objetos tan iconográficos, que dentro de otros contextos llevan consigo significados específicos, sin embargo en Tijuana se han convertido en lienzos vacíos donde se plasman multiplicidad de interpretaciones. Al pasar cerca de ellos es posible distinguir su semejanza deformada con los iconos de las urbes modernas, desde Nueva York a Sau Paulo. Pertenecen a una familia de impostores, junto con Bart Simpson, Increible Hulk y Mickey Mouse figuras de yeso que venden a los turistas que esperan cruzar la frontera. Representativos del la artificialidad a grande escala, y de una necesidad de replicar una narrativa comunal. Dentro de su descripción generica se encuentra la negación de la figura representada - que a la vez se dirige hacia una lectura diagramática permitiendo “loops” de correlaciones diversas.

En una serie de fotografías en blanco y negro con titulo Mal-Hitos, Melissa Arreola yuxtapone el objeto original con el falsificado, en una especie de ficha fotográfica que expresa su culpabilidad de secuestro de identidad. Aun se hacen pasar por monumentos que por décadas adquirieron un profundo simbolismo en sus distintos ambientes culturales, reafirman el anhelo que tienen Tijuana por un pasado y su deseo por artefactos urbanos. Su única culpa, dentro de su corta y dislocada vida, es ser parte de una simulada memoria colectiva.


En un swap meet de Tijuana me compre este libro de Ideas, de la A - Z.


Posted by Picasa


*Este post se estara reconstruyendo (como Tijuana misma) en las próximas semanas y a lo largo del taller de urbanismo que impartiré en Woodbury University en San Diego. El tema del UNdesign que menciono aqui sera explorado en un texto para la revista Italiana Avatar que saldra en otoño 2005.

…to plan a city is both to think the very plurality of the real and to make that way of thinking the plural effective; it is to know how to articulate it and be able to do it.
Michel de Certeau

En el último libro/revista de Rem Koolhaas llamado Content se publico un artículo que me hace pensar en la falta de responsabilidad ética del arquitecto y la arquitectura.
Violence against architecture: Quixote comes of age in Sarajevo. Si el arquitecto construye también puede destruir. En caso diferentes Bill Millard, define “urbicide” como el acto premeditado de destrucción urbana en áreas de intercambio cultural.
El urbicidio divide y delimita identidades, eliminando situaciones que producen contrastes, normalmente el que practica el urbicidio es aquel que no separa su espacio urbano de un grupo limitado y cerrado. Aquel que encierra y abandona estructuras urbanas también es tan culpable como el que desvía fondos publicos destinados para obras comunitarias. Aquellos que con la bandera de vivienda social construyen miles de viviendas suburbanas - para después abandónalas creando condición de entropía - también son culpables del urbicidio. La decadencia de las estructuras físicas con las sociales van mano a mano como nos han mostrado ejemplos como Pruit Igoe en Saint Louis, USA, los superbloques de vivienda racionalistas que crearon una anarquía cívica en Caracas Venezuela a fines de los años 50 y otros ejemplos que nos dejo el modernismo utópico lecorbusiano. En Tijuana es irónico que exista una empresa con el mismo prefijo (Urbi), como si su creadores fueran parte de una visión fascista de eliminar o anular el concepto de cuidad habitable. Las estructuras (de poder a la Faucault) creadas por esta organización crea los mecanismos que vacían al la ciudad de un espacio plural creando, como menciona De Certeau, “lugares donde no se puede creer en nada”.

Se me haría difícil clasificar con toda certeza a estos desarrollos como “auténticos” no-lugares. Aun que Marc Auge hace varios puntos interesantes sobre la definición y configuración de un no-lugar. El ejemplo mas concreto es; el no-lugar es totalmente cuantificable. Los limites de su extensión, como su cantidad de unidades y los metros cuadrados de asfalto son contables y construidos con el spread sheet en vez de con la historia e intercambio de ideas, palabras y ambigüedades. Lugares, no-lugares del hyper-design, calculados hasta la última gota de cemento, el diseño se ha convertido en la tecnica de la supresión de la espontaneidad. Esto me lleva a creer en el concepto de UNdesign; el diseño como catalizador de intensidades, y no como génesis de la forma y espacio. El diseño [en esta definición de UNdesign], es una cualidad intrínseca del espacio político de la cuidad. Si la arquitectura es una forma de praxis cultural su operatividad debe ser proyectiva.

Este proyecto de Urbicidio esta compuesto de dos modelos: El primero construcciones seriadas de mínimo espacio al este de la cuidad, un mar de cuartos Tijuana es la verdadera “City of Quartos” (Termino que presento Gustavo Leclerc en UCLA para explicar una condición urbana de East LA). Homogeneidad, claustrofobia urbana - hacer ciudad no es hacer cuartos - hacer ciudad es entender las condiciones sociales y culturales de los usuarios y dejar libre la posibilidad de su representación en la cuidad. Hay solución a estas condiciones de hacinamiento? Si pero no esta en las manos de los desarrolladores - esta en la determinación de la sociedad de exigir un espacio digno y heterogéneo. La masa critica del la ciudad llega a su limite. El segundo modelo consiste en la falsa proposición de vender seguridad dentro de una ciudad insegura y violenta, vivir en la ciudad es decadente y peligroso, vivir con guardia las 24 horas y dentro un espacio delimitado por muros que crean mini fronteras (como si nos faltaran bardas de que preocuparnos en Tijuana) es protegerse de las masas, la segregación es seguridad. Muros que como en otras condiciones (extremas) aíslan clases sociales, distancian ideologías religiosas y políticas. En estas áreas se simula la ciudad– seria un peligro vivir la realidad, existen en simulacro de una villa italiana, de un Eastlake San Dieguino, de un mundo blanco, un archipiélago hermético.

El acto de diseñar espacios, comunidades y ciudades es una forma activa de moldear actividades políticas y humanas. Es una responsabilidad social y como tal puede ser juzgada cuando es nociva para la salud mental y física de la sociedad. El usuario no es un concepto abstracto de un índice de mercadotecnia no es “the bottom line”. En la historia se han presentado casos de diseñó urbano como mecanismo de control ( Hausman en Paris o Speer en Berlin) y mientras estas empresas locales estén en negación total de la realidad en las que laboran, no podrán ser absueltas de urbicidio.


The Tijuana Effect

Hace unos meses lleve a unos amigos de Los Angeles a conocer el Hospital Del Prado ubicado en la zona de la mesa en Tijuana. El teórico en arquitectura Bob Somol y el Arq. Mark Lee visitaban Tijuana después de su conferencia en el ICBC para el evento OTRA/ANOTHER. Llegamos al hospital y al salir del carro se quedaron apreciando el edificio de fachada de bloc de vidrio verde, después de meditar unos minutos sacaron las cámaras y capturaron el estado actual de uno de los primeros edificios de la firma Morphosis. Thom Mayne y Michael Rotondi vinieron a Tijuana en 1973 a diseñar un conjunto de vivienda en La Floresta y el hospital al inicio de su carrera en 1972 como despacho en Los Angeles.

Entramos al hospital reconociendo los espacios originales que todavía son visibles a través de la horrenda ampliación que se le hizo. Horrenda en cuanto a intención espacial y arquitectónica, pero necesaria como la describió la Doctora Aubanel. El edificio tiene rasgos de la influencia del arquitecto James Stirling de Escocia, arquitecto conocido por su obra fuera del mainstream modernista y sus organizaciones en planta a 45 grados y de algunas referencias a la arquitectura del siglo 19. La referencia a Sterling es evidente en los primero proyectos de Morphosis. El hospital parece ubicarse dentro del diseñó humanista y el “over aesthetic” una ideología de Sterling aparente en su proyecto mas famoso, la biblioteca de historia en la Universidad de Cambridge.

Subimos a los diferentes niveles por la escalera original hasta el tercer o cuarto piso para ver la fachada verde de cerca. El pasillo de circulación se ilumina de verde con la luz de la tarde. El mármol Travertino sobre el piso (de moda en edificios de gobierno en esa época como en el Cecut) refleja una sensación grafica tridimensional o retícula renacentista entre el muro y el piso. El pasillo es solamente circulación y sala de espera para los diferentes consultorios y habitaciones del hospital. Al bajar esperamos en el lobby para el regreso, de una habitacion salía una mujer con vestimenta de quirófano con todo y tapa bocas. Le preguntamos al guardia si podíamos tomar algunas fotos en el interior y nos comento que había que preguntarle a la “dueña” y apuntó hacia la mujer que vimos salir. Para nuestra sorpresa se trataba de la Dr. Patricia Aubanel. Al acercarnos nos presentamos como arquitectos miembros de la facultad donde trabaja Thom Mayne en UCLA.
Se quito el tapa bocas y muy amable nos saludo y nos dio un tour de las partes originales del edificio que de por cierto ya habíamos visto. Platicando con ella salio a conversación el tema de la ampliación. El proyecto de la ampliación parece ser obra del Arq. Santini, el mismo que fue alumno de Thom Mayne en Sci-Arc en Los Angeles. Mayne y Rotondi fundaron la famosa escuela de Los Angeles en 1972 el mismo año que iniciaron su despacho. Santini los invito a trabajar en los dos proyectos que lograron construir en Tijuana. El proyecto de la ampliación para mi forma de ver era fácil – seguir con la línea Sterling de superficies de vidrio quizá separando el edificio original con una banda sólida, parecido al proyecto de Cambridge.

La ampliación del Hospital del Prado, aun que su origen esta ubicado en algún estereotipo PoMo californiano , tiene un aval santo. La Doctora Aubanel nos comentaba que en las últimas platicas que mantuvo con su paciente la Madre Teresa ,premio Nobel de la Paz 1979, en un hospital de la Jolla, California la madre le pidió la promesa de construir un centro de cardiología en Tijuana, un centro donde la doctora atendiera a la comunidad de Tijuana como lo hizo con ella en La Jolla.. Ella no sabia si le alcanzarían los fondos para contratar a Thom Mayne, ahora que era un arquitecto de prestigio internacional, nos comento. Somol respondió que era muy probable, debido a que es uno de sus primeros edificios fuera de Los Angeles, que Mayne lo hubiera diseñado sin cobrar por sus servicios. Después que la Madre Teresa falleció la promesa se convirtió en una manda arquitectónica.

Al salir del Hospital comentábamos sobre la suerte que tuvimos de platicar con la doctora y después fuimos a ver el edificio de la empresa Harina El Rosal unas cuadras atrás del hospital. Si bien recuerdo en el primer libro de Morphosis la única foto del Hospital es una vista elevada con los silos del Rosal en el fondo. Un edificio verde con una fachada sólida y tectonica industrial, y pensé aló mejor esta construcción fue la verdadera inspiración. Meses después Thom Mayne gana el Premio Pritzker de Arquitectura por más de 30 años de carrera, inevitablemente el Tijuana effect tuvo algo que ver.


Articulo del San Diego Union-Tribune sobre Aqui es Tijuana, Worldview y sus autores.

image/Rene Peralta

Capturing Tijuana

Authors bring city's paradoxes to a new book, Web site
By Ann Jarmusch
July 31, 2005

TIJUANA – Like kids let out of school early, the trio pranced on the sun-drenched beach sliced crudely by the U.S. border fence. For months, the architect, the writer-poet and the urban anthropologist had worked hard together on an unvarnished and inconclusive book portraying their city.
Now it was time for a little fun and freedom, albeit tinged with irony as the nearby U.S. Border Patrol watched their every move.
Fiamma Montezemolo, a 34-year-old anthropologist from Rome who now lives in Tijuana and San Diego; and two native Tijuanenses, architect René Peralta, 36, and writer Heriberto Yépez, 30, recently came to Las Playas de Tijuana, where the steel border fence is designed to plunge into the ocean shared by Imperial Beach.

At the time of this visit, the fence was being rebuilt. The section that had blocked access and views of Imperial Beach was temporarily replaced by see-through, chain-link fencing that left a gap at the ocean's edge.
The controversial border divide, physical and psychological, runs like a jagged, festering wound through this terrain and the daily lives of millions. Inevitably, the international border became a nagging theme of their book, "Aqui es Tijuana" (Here is Tijuana), which is expected to be released next spring by Black Dog Publishing, a company in London that specializes in contemporary art, architecture and design books.
Meanwhile, a related and equally provocative multimedia report called "Tijuana: Mother of Invention" is available online at www.worldviewcities.org/tijuana/main.html.
Peralta coordinated this report, the fourth in a continuing series by the nonprofit Architectural League of New York called "Worldview: Perspectives on Architecture and Urbanism From Around the Globe."
"Tijuana is primarily a result of illegal or illicit acts," is the first, no-holds-barred sentence of Peralta's online essay, "Illicit Acts of Urbanism." He argues that his hometown has grown informally and opportunistically. While some laws reward the resourcefulness and endurance of squatters, the overall result is a dysfunctional, ill-equipped and unhealthy city.
Tijuana's rough-and-tumble history resonates with Peralta perhaps more than most of the thousands of newcomers from other parts of Mexico, who may or may not put down roots. His family, by contrast, settled in dusty downtown Tijuana during the 1920s; his children are fifth-generation Tijuanenses.
So far, the Worldview series also includes reports by young architects who live and work in Caracas, Venezuela; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Oslo, Norway – cities the mainstream architectural media tend to overlook, said Rosalie Genevro, the League's executive director.

The Caracas report, which debuted in late 2002, came first and Tijuana fourth partly due to League members' keen interest in Latin America, Genevro said. Between January and mid-July of this year, the site logged 24,000 visitors.
In September, a report on Beirut, Lebanon, is slated to be added to the online series, which is edited by Gregory Wessner. Zagreb, Croatia; and Helsinki, Finland will follow.
The Tijuana "Worldview" report contains essays by Peralta, Montezemolo, Yepéz, and six others representing two generations from both sides of the border. Peralta selected them to reflect traditional-to-futuristic responses to the sprawling city's challenges and assets.
In the report and the forthcoming book, statements, opinions and images may strike readers as bold and iconoclastic, but Peralta said the goal of these portraits isn't to judge, promote or condemn his tumultuous city.
"We wanted to leave it open to interpretation," Peralta said during an interview in his loftlike office in an old section of downtown. "We want to expose Tijuana not only to the world, but to ourselves here in Tijuana."
Peralta, Montezemolo and Yépez fell in and out of love with Tijuana almost daily, they said, as they gathered recent data and historic records, shot photographs and interviewed often overlooked residents, such as prostitutes and taco vendors.
They seem both fascinated and frustrated by the stark contrasts (extreme poverty and luxury), paradoxes (it is illegal to carry a gun, though drug traffickers wield automatic weapons during street ambushes) and myths (the city was named for somebody's aunt Juana) that have swirled around this former haven for Americans seeking pleasures outlawed at home.
Among the other contributors to the online report: Teddy Cruz, a San Diego-based designer with inventive redevelopment ideas for the border region; Mike Davis, author of "City of Quartz" about Los Angeles and co-author of "Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See;" Pablo Bransburg, a San Diego-based architect and architecture critic born in Argentina; and Miguel Escobar, a Tijuana architect who works with housing developers and teaches at Universidad Iberoamericana.
Punchy photographs and images, contributed by 38 artists, photographers, architects and graphic designers, pepper the site. A timeline illustrates Tijuana's bursts of unplanned, sometimes illegal settlements. A portfolio of work by 10 of the city's progressive, young architecture firms (Peralta's generica is among them) is the first resource of its kind and suggests Tijuana's future built environment could be far different from that of the past.
These components fulfill the Architectural League's template for a Worldview report, but Peralta suggested one more that the League has since adopted: a two-minute video punctuated by street sounds and music. "I thought it was important for people to see and hear Tijuana," he said.

The collaborators expect the report and especially the harder-edged book to rankle readers on both sides of the border, Yépez said. He teaches philosophy to maquiladora workers enrolled at a university across the street from their employer – just one example he cites of Tijuana's crazy-quilt of opportunities. The trio welcomes discussion, debate and even discord, which they expect from Tijuana's establishment, as tools to help the city grow up and perhaps take charge of its destiny.
All three discovered aspects of Tijuana they hadn't seen or considered before. The most significant is the rapid emergence of "New Tijuana," the name for an area east of the city being consumed by vast new housing tracts, some crammed with microcasas as small as 500 to 800 square feet. Peralta and others expect these government-sanctioned developments – alternatives to the precariously built shacks earlier immigrants built of recycled or scavenged materials – to sprawl one day all the way to Tecate.
"There's a whole different society over there, with their own social and cultural structure," Peralta said, adding that this is where Tijuana's newest immigrants from elsewhere in Mexico and Central America are settling. Markets and entertainment spots cater to the immigrants' roots.
"They ask you if you are from there, or from Tijuana," said Peralta, a rare, fourth-generation Tijuanen.
Montezemolo welcomes discussion, heated or not, of pressing issues and social ills raised in their two projects. "Tijuana is central to the national discussion now," she said, referring to the border city's growing, yet transient population that straddles life on both sides of the border and values education and career goals.
"COLEF (El Colegio de la Frontera Norte) researchers think Tijuana is representative of Mexico, a point of reference" of where the country may be headed. Some in other regions are worried about the "Tijuanization" of Mexico, Yépes added, without elaborating on whether he would view such a transformation of other cities as good, bad or ugly. For him, Tijuana embodies those easily identifiable qualities but also others far more mystifying.
"I think the city is changing every day, but you have to stop" researching at some point to get a book to press, a Web site online, said Peralta, who didn't set out to be an urban-design historian, but found himself increasingly intrigued by his own research.
When a visitor suggested the three collaborators revisit their research in 20 years, they howled or groaned. For one thing, they weren't ready to even think about repeating what turned into a massive undertaking that gobbled all their free time and left them cash-strapped for more than a year.
"You mean in five years," a smiling Peralta added quickly. "The city is changing so fast."

Ann Jarmusch: (619) 293-1019; ann.jarmusch@uniontrib.com


Tijuana - Bulldog Edition

Desde que inicie con el proyecto del libro Aquí es Tijuana con Fiamma Montezemolo y Heriberto Yepez, me eh reservado en platicar sobre el tema en este blog. Por ser el primer libro que edito, me preocupaba que se fuera a salar el asunto si hacia algún comentario (todavía toco madera). Parece ser que ya vamos en buen camino, por que el draft ya se encuentra con la editora Black Dog en Londres esperando salga en Abril 2006.

El Domingo 31 de Julio el San Diego Union-Tribune publicara un reportaje sobre el proyecto World View Tijuana y tambien una entrevista con Fiamma, Heriberto y un servidor sobre el esperado libro Aquí es Tijuana/ Here is Tijuana. El reportaje consiste en juntar los objetivos del proyecto Worldview y Aquí es Tijuana, como también presentar una seria de imágenes de los dos proyectos. El reportaje es trabajo de Ann Jarmusch critica de Arquitectura del San Diego Union-Tribune , Architecture Magazine entre otras publicaciones nacionales.

El reportaje saldra el sábado 30 de Julio en el bulldog edition del Union-Tribune (para que las amas de casa puedan sacar los cupones y gastárselos en domingo muy temprano) en supermercados, farmacias y puestos de revistas. El domingo también lo consiguen. Para los que no pueden obtener un ejemplar prometo hacer un post del reportaje. A cruzar los dedos, encender veladoras y tocar madera y por si las dudas hasta pisar mierda!


Otra/Another evento anual de arquitectura/urbanismo tiene ya su blog. www.otranother.blogspot


In Tijuana and after postmodernism the Venturian duck and decorated shed co-exist once again.
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La Caja y la Reja - Infraestructura Tijuanense
Dieciembre 2004

vista de la calle Mina Posted by Hello

vista de plaza de galerias Posted by Hello

Imágenes del ante-proyecto diseñado por generica para la nueva Sala Internacional de Exposiciones del Cecut. No Ganamos, pero intentamos hacer una critica a la institución del arte en general y en contra de una visión institucional de la arquitectura de los 70’s en México - impuesta para Mexicanizar Tijuana. Proyecto de 10 días de elaboración después del llamado oficial del concurso en los medios de comunicación.

El programa publico (teatro, restaurante, librería etc.) flotan dentro de una caja. La caja-reja, abierta pero en protección de lo publico, como en la casa donde vivo, la reja me afirma proteccion y me permite sentir al viento entrar por la ventana.
Un esquema típico de Box in a Box, un copy-paste de otros proyectos pero al mismo tiempo tijuaneado. En la plaza y enterrados se encuentra el programa elitista del arte (galerías, administración, oficinas de curaduria), en un juego entre lo real y lo ideal.

La caja-reja que ‘cierra’, ‘protege’, ‘delimita’,representa’ una de las islas del archipiélago foucaltiano, representa el poder del museo, de la institución pero a la vez lo desnuda con su transparencia, es como una piel porosa, es protección pero deja respirar a su interior la vida urbana de afuera, es reja abierta. Es llenamente consciente de la contradicción urbana actual en la cual no se puede frenar la dispersión impresionante de la cuidad y al mismo tiempo se busca protección de ella.

La caja es fluctuante, no se aferra a las bases, no tiene raíces, esto significa que capta la dificultad de la identidad estable en un mundo que fluctúa, que se constituye en su memoria por migrantes sin ciudadanía múltiple ( Tijuana es un ejemplo típico del paso), de identidades en devenir, en transformación, “becoming rather than being” decía P.Gillroy, necesitamos paredes, necesitamos protección identidad, pero ligeras, necesitamos casas pero no anclas, un concepto desapegado de protección que no llegue a la claustrofobia que ciertas paredes en la historia del siglo pasado nos han dado, paredes constituidas del material que el poder dictaba. El museo representante principal de la concepción moderna del espacio, en primer lugar nacional, aquí de cuestiona. Hoy un museo saca el arte al aire libre y encierra el espacio público en una transparencia…
Fiamma Montezemolo


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Despues de seis meses aqui esta - le toca a Tijuana.



To Good to be True

Highway 101 Northbound

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Highway 101 Southbound

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Recorriendo la carretera 101 entre unos de los paisajes mas hermosos de California- me trasporté a los inicios del siglo pasado. Un paisaje rural, verde y extenso que me libero del estrés ocasionado por el 405 de Los Angeles. El itinerario incluía primero viajar al Politécnico de California en San Luis Obispo a impartir una platica en la facultad de arquitectura y hacer una revisión de tesis al otro día. Después me regresaría a Los Angleles dos días para participar en la presentación de proyectos de la maestría como jurado. San Luis Obispo es un pueblo chico de aprox. 45,000 personas, y su raison d’etre es el politécnico. Un campus pequeño pero bien equipado, con numerosas construcciones recientes y amplios espacios públicos. La facultad de arquitectura se encuentra en un edifico de varios niveles construido de hormigón (concreto como se dice en TJ), con una escala y volumétria setentera, un brutalismo casi institucional, sin embargo el interior se abre a diversas plazas y espacios, un brutalismo mas apegado a Sterling o al de los Smithson en Inglaterra. Karina Urias estudiante del Politécnico me comento que sus maestros le platicaron que era un edificio desnudo (por tener los ductos de aire acondicionado expuestos, y tratarse de concreto aparente en los muros) un tipo de maqueta didáctica a escala real, con el propósito de ilustrar el arte de construir a los estudiante, ellos se instruyen al mismo tiempo que lo habitan. De regreso por el 101 hacia Los Angeles entre un transe causado por el paisaje y el confort del carro, pensé que quizás el edificio de la facultad representaba una imagen romántica de la arquitectura. Un sarcófago modernista donde el arte de construir, el arte de la arquitectura y sus idealismos existen en simbiosis con la naturaleza del paisaje californiano. Parecía una fantasía, era demasiado harmónico la relación entre ese pueblo y sus habitantes y ese edificio con su función. Fantasioso quizás por que mi dislexia visual Tijuanense no me dejaba aceptar la posibilidad un lugar casi perfecto. Fui a San Luis Obispo a romper esa tranquilidad, esa nostalgia por la arquitectura de lugar (place). Fui a mostrar imágenes de mi Tijuana, el fracaso de la arquitectura, la desilusión del urbanismo académico, imágenes de una urbe construida de fricciones, en estado de permutación constante. No la presento como la cuidad del futuro ni como la urbe post moderna, mas bien como la ciudad post urbana.
El clímax de la plática fue la mona, la casa en cuerpo de mujer. No me interesa el romanticismo de esa construcción me interesa la necesidad del Tijuanense por crear su artefactos urbanos. Las características de artefacto urbano son la imaginación y la memoria colectiva como decía Aldo Rossi. La mona, el cristo, la bola, el arco, artefactos de una memoria artificial y un pasado fantasioso (como lo captura Melissa Arreola en la serie de hitos) son esfuerzos frustrados que intentan localizar un punto de referencia, el punto de fuga de la cuidad perspectivista, todos estos artefactos quieren ser el centro de Tijuana. De ahí continuo con las imágenes de la Nueva Tijuana, el hacinamiento de Urbi (Premio nacional de vivienda) en Villa Fontana, imagen aterrorizadora para el estudiante Americano. Levittown nunca murió no más se traslado a Tijuana. Imágenes de una realidad, imágenes del fracaso del urbanismo, Tijuana donde la teoría estructuralista nunca llego. Casi llegando a LA empiezo a ver el trafico, la contaminacion y salgo del transe y pienso que seria imposible para mi impartir clases en Cal Poly, necesito de mi dislexia visual, de una ciudad construida de imágenes ubicuas, de una cuidad que produce mitos. No estoy seguro donde se sitúa Tijuana si en la supermodernidad de Marc Auge o en la cuidad generica de Rem Koolhaas, pero Tijuana es la antitesis de lugar (place) donde los ciudadano construyen y reconstruyen su vida cotidiana las 24 horas.
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Village Vanguard – NY

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La casa del Jazz en NY. Un espacio pequeño, a hole in the wall, presentando a los mejores músicos por más de 70 años. La casa de Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, Thelonious, Art Pepper entre otros. Ese día corrí con suerte - me toco escuchar a Cedar Walton y su trío. Unos de los mejores pianistas en el mundo. El jazz es otra cosa - como decía mi padre “la música popular es para el cuerpo, el jazz es para la mente”.


Para la Egoteca

Mayo 11, 2005
El Miércoles estaré en el Politécnico de California campus San Luis Obispo
Presentando una plática y compartiendo el escenario con el famoso arquitecto Teddy Cruz.

Mayo 13, 2005
De regreso a UCLA participando en el jurado de las presentaciones de Tesis.
Los alumnos de Mark Lee trabajaron en una propuesta de vivienda en Tijuana!
Worldview Tijuana - soon in a browser near you.

La Nueva Tiuana 2005  Posted by Hello

De Agosto del 2004 a Enero 2005 elabore un proyecto de investigación para el Arquitectural League of New York, institución con mas de 100 años presentando temas de arquitectura y urbanismo en diferentes países. En 2002 lanzaron un nuevo proyecto en internet llamado Worldview Cities. Un reportaje en web sobre ciudades fuera del main stream - fenómenos urbanos contemporaneos.
El primer reportaje fue sobre Caracas, Venezuela elaborado por el Caracas Urban Think Tank seguido por reportajes sobre Daka, y Oslo. Tuve el placer de preparar el reportaje sobre Tijuana que saldrá en unas semanas. Organizar y presentar a Tijuana no es fácil por su carácter natural de evadir una imagen fija. Darle orden al desorden fue una tarea difícil. El reportaje intenta analizar las diferentes posturas de la urbe desde la profesión misma y a través de un concepto que me interesa mucho, el de la ilegalidad o lo ilícito como catalizador de procesos urbanos. Gracias a todos los que participaron y espero avisarles pronto del lanzamiento para celebrar con una fiesta en mi oficina.


Minds are of three kinds: one is capable of thinking for itself; another is able to understand the thinking of others; and a third can neither think for itself nor understand the thinking of others. The first is of the highest excellence, the second is excellent, and the third is worthless.

[The Prince, Daniel Donno translation, Bantam, 1966, 1981 p. 80]


El lunes 31 de Enero presente una platica sobre Tijuana y generica arquitectura en UCLA. Eston son los apuntes de la conferencia.

Illusive borders - Part I

In the past two years the work done in my office has dealt with urban issues as it pertains to Tijuana, How does an architectural practice operate within a context that considers the practice of architecture a mere luxury while construction is a self generated endeavor. Tijuana’s elusive urban form, population growth and densities create an illusionary effect that scholars have been labeling into terms such post-urban, post border and hybridism. This illusiveness of Tijuana is a constant characteristic that outperforms any academic or historical terminology. In our office we have shifted strategies as much as Tijuana has morphed into a variety conditions. We began as any other office does - with the clean desk and waiting for client that sought good design as well as a chance for us to perform within the theories of contemporary architecture. This strategy soon changed and reorganized itself- in order to incorporate a series of alternative task - adding and substituting them along the way. We changed from the desire to be a critical practice to the need to be an alternative practice. One of the endeavors that emerged from this alternative organization is a research project that has taken two years one by generica and the other as a collaborative with Fiamma Montezemlo and Heriberto Yepez. The project began as a inquiry toward the dynamics of the city in its urban, cultural and social forms. In the last year we have produced a 300 page book on Tijuana called Here is Tijuana.

I will begin with an assessment of the post-border rhetoric, specifically as it pertains to the city of Tijuana. It seems that a post border conditions operates under the assumption or concept of hybridization as a central element of a post border and defines a congruent state of dependency on both sides.

Slide 2-3
Normally - the region has been defined as the border between US/Mexico.
and Tijuana particularly as a zone of cultures in confluence. This includes an optimistic discourse about a hypothetical fusion, even though the real situation demonstrates dramatically the opposite.

It seems that the condition of post border -at least in its physical condition has not been achieved- as we see that in the past ten years we have seen the erection of two more divisions between the Tijuana / San Diego border. The urban conditions on either side has remained the same – in San Diego this area has not been urbanized and continues to be treated as a buffer zone and military base. On the Tijuana side the urban fabric still clustered along the fence.

Slide 3
Instead of a space of synthesis, interaction or hybridization – favorite term of the recent conceptualization of the border -, the US/Mexico border is shown as an example of a series of paradoxical strategies that form a separation.

For the average citizen trying to cross the border to the “other side” requires planning and strategy due to the fact that since the terror acts of September 11 the border has tightens security and alertness, making the cross as much as two hours in peak times.

Slide 4

For anybody that does not have legal documents, the border is much more of a struggle to get across then it was ten years ago. After the gulf war a metal wall made out of desert storm landing strips replaced the simple chain link fence that once marked the boundary. Operation gatekeeper made illegal immigration shift to the eastern desert and since its implementation there have been approximately 1500 deaths.

Slide 5

The effect the border has on family structure and is still very apparent as family members meet each other precisely at the fence to exchange words, letters, and money - a reality with social impact.

Slide 6

According to the Tito Alegria a resercher at the border think tank
The conceptualization of a “trans-border metropolis” is naturally inclined to be impressionistic, it contains a theoretical fallacy that is null of any substantial indicators.

Slide 7

In regards planning there exist broad differences. The planning associated with our neighbor San Diego has dealt with issues of environmental policy, pedestrian communities, and mix use urban living as in the case of the gas lamp in downtown. All planning issues on the border are dealt within San Diego. In the year 2000, the urbanized area of Tijuana had a density of 52 residents per acre compared to 11 residents per acre in San Diego

Slide 8

In Tijuana the lack of planning is evident as well as the problem of illegal settlements, the government has had a difficult task of bringing basic infrastructure to these areas, and all planning that happens along the Tijuana border is dealt with in Mexico City

Slide 9

Since the Mexican – American war where Tijuana became the territorial boundary of Mexico its development has been affected by violent process and this includes a confrontation with its geography - an image of hostility between the natural and the man made.
A contrast to San Diego where the city embraces and tries to create a symbiosis with nature, a strategy that Kevin Lynch articulated in his report temporary paradise, in the 1970’s

Slide 11

Economically there exist dependency but the gain is far from being equally favorable to both sides. In other terms, economic interaction stimulates local markets in both cities, but does not convert them into trans-border markets. Differences in salary and other factors do not permit a unified system.

Slide 12 y 13
Tijuana has a problem of unregulated business where the tax collecting is really a bribe to continue setting up shop in a particular space. Many of these businesses deal with merchandise that break copyright infringement laws, or its contraband from Asia, or prohibited material such as illegal DVD video games, computer software and box office hits – sometimes sold before being released in US theaters. It’s a problem - yet it is sometimes the only way to put food in the table due to the high tax tariffs and other high costs the government applies to small businesses. In Tijuana the US dollar is a valid type of currency while the peso is not in the US.

It might be that are certain specific cultural conditions that begin to operate within a post border condition, yet I believe that in a contextual analysis of both cities that condition is far from occurring. Tijuana does not define itself by cultural hybridization, but rather by the processes of contradictions, juxtapositions, encounters, asymmetry, paradox or disjunctives within cultures.

Tijuana’s essence is to manifest its elusiveness; the fact that it makes paradigms fail.

Illegitimate Representations – Part II

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In the past two years the task of making a book has forced the
re-conceptualization of the contextual condition generica operates in. The concepts of its urban conditions have needed to be researched in our own way. This book summarizes this process – a rediscovering of Tijuana through three independents pair of eyes, two from Tijuana and one from Italy (of all places)
A writer, an architect and anthropologist, discuss, and confront each other on the diverse meaning the city presents and the histories it tells. A friend once said that Tijuana has more to do with novels of science fiction than text of the history of Mexico, yet I believe as Heriberto Yepez affirmed - that Tijuana is a city of a futureless science fiction.

The book is divided into seven sections I will illustrate a few of them tonight.

As the concept of the city gets reinterpreted by the despatializing of the local,
the notion of urban space is being restructured by global circumstances. As in many other postmodern urban conditions, the contemporary city is complex and unfathomable – Aquí es Tijuana intends to register the process that makes up this new paradigm of the city.

Aquí esTtijuana is primarily a visual endeavor where images and information are recorded in order for the user to come upon an open ended concept of the city.. An info-graphic walkthrough of one of the most emblematic cities of globalization and post-modernity. Aquí es Tijuana is a guide where the user can construct his own vision of Tijuana, a city in the process of defining itself. The content of the book is made up of brief data and information, statistics, quotes, fragments of texts, as well as a network of texts that intermingle and coincide with the visual urban space of Tijuana. Published in October.

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Economic disparities the ideal image the city wants to portray and the reality we see on the street everyday.

Slide 19

Tijuana where transnational companies have been able to set up shop and take advantage of low wages and the other condition of the immigrant worker and his daily commute.
Slide 20

Tijuana buildings are a mixture of las vegas and rem koolhas junkspace iconography.

Slide 21

Tijuana has a symphony orchestra mostly made up of Cuban and Russian musicians while the local country music trios and bands musicians come from the interior of the country.

Slide 22

The phenomena of the maquiladora or manufacturing plant has had a major impact in the development of the city mostly in its housing sector. Tijuana was the leading manufacturer of televisions in the world.

Slide 23

The other manufacturing takes place in a garage. The serialization of characters is a common item for tourist and locals,

Slide 24
The Serialization of housing has become common as well. Developers are building thousands of micro homes in the name of social housing. Some have only 270 sq ft in area, insufficient space for a family of three, with no room for expansion.

Slide 25
Developments that in the last ten years has changed the structure of low income housing from self built shacks to serialized units subsidized by the government.

Slide 26

This new developments have are part of what its called the new Tijuana to the east of the city and space that has its own recreation centers and its own cultural and social make up. Its where today half of the population of Tijuana lives.

Slide 27, 28 , 29

In a section called permutations we have the diverse building techniques and material some that are not traditional materials for building such as tires, pallets and other materials that are just reinterpreted in their use such as garage doors functioning as walls. Used to build houses, shops, stairs retaining walls etc.

Slide 30

Tijuana easily forgets. It does not have much reverence for important buildings and architects just fabricate and import visions of non existent histories.

Slide 31 and 32 los itos
That is why I enjoy this series by the Tijuana artist Melisa Arreola. This images inform us of the necessity that Tijuana has for a past a desire for -urban artifacts- as Aldo Rossi called objects that form part of a collective memory.

Slide 33
La Mona. From all the sections in the book its was hard for me figure out where to place this structure. For its creator is a desire to have made his house in the form of a woman. A full figure woman that has not the classical physique an ugly woman in classical terms maybe as ugly as Tijuana is for its excesses. Yet it fulfills him completely he cooks in the stomach, sleeps in the breasts and everyday when he goes out to work he is reborn, because the main entry is literary between her legs.

Illicit Acts of Urbanism - Part III

Slide 34
After the concluding with the research for the book I was hired by the architectural league of New York to present Tijuana in their world view cities web page. I decided to create my own history of Tijuana in terms of illegalities or in terms of illicit acts.

Slide 35 absolute illegal de Melisa Arreola

This image represents various concepts of the border. That the border has been commercialized and exploited due to its exotic condition that it portrays and its real issues seem to be sometimes ignored, especially in the arts. Second Tijuana is for me absolute illegal if there is propaganda more apt to represent its urban origin it’s the one dealing with illegality.

Since its conception, the idea of illegality has been the driving force behind its dystopian condition. Within a framework of illegality, exist instances of violent processes, that until recently have become the modus operandi of urban transformation.

An illegality, separated from morality and sometimes a need or necessity - a way of life.

Slide 36

The first plan of the city drafted in 1889, became the ideal form to unlawfully alter. The grid, that paradigm of urban space, was now the instigator on the brink of illegality. When the beaux-arts plan was laid out, diagonal boulevards transverse the orthogonal parcels and connected a series of plazas. In places where the diagonals touched a parcel, a confrontation existed of a vicious manner. Landowners began to transgress the axial paths by building into them in order to obtain a greater amount of land. By 1921, the public diagonal paths had become a crippled desire of order and control, a failed plan to produce Cartesian logic.

Slide 37 –

Today, the only remnant piece of the diagonals is plaza Santa Cecilia, located on the verge of decency near the prostitution area of the Zona Norte and the “family” oriented Revolution Street.

Slide 38

During prohibition in the United States, Tijuana became an accomplice to bootlegging and drunkenness by becoming an oasis of bars and liquor stores that served Americans during the Volstead law of the 1920’s. The origins of Mexicali beer, “La Ballena” (considered to have the longest bar in the world), saloons, prostitution and other illicit acts, that accompany inebriated recreation

The Tijuana race track came into being during this time, financed by Californians, and open its doors in 1916 and since then it is part of a violent and unlawful history that until today has become the spotlight of controversy.

Slide 39

In 1928 American entrepreneurs, trying to make a profit by making Tijuana, the precursor to Las Vegas, founded the Agua Caliente Casino. The casino pampered Hollywood celebrities such as Buster Keaton and Rita Hayworth, had race horse jack pots in the thousands of dollars and proliferated the opening of bars and hotels. The casino was such a success that the US government in trying to stop its citizens from enjoying themselves closed the border at 9 pm every night. This only made the local hotels in Tijuana more prosperous due to the fact the Americans decided to stay overnight. During the US, depression the casinos and the commercial strips of downtown Tijuana flourished economically, yet all of this would come to an end in 1939 when by presidential decree, the Casino was converted into a school and gambling was prohibited in Mexico.

Slide 40

During the beginning of the Second World War, the US sent its young laboring men into the military service leaving the fields of California without hands to work the land. The Bracero program of 1942 became another incentive to immigrate to Tijuana and work in California. Immigration quadrupled the city’s’ population in a decade and originated the phenomenon that still plagues it, uncontrolled growth, invasion of property, and illegal immigration. Even after the war, Americans felt obliged to hire illegal workforce in agriculture, construction and low paying service jobs. Many of these immigrants settled illegally in different parts of the city, but one of the most problematic invasions was happening in the River Zone next to the border and referred to as cartolandia or carton-land. Displacement of people from this area became 20 year endeavor terminating with a violent act in1979 that was to launch the city of Tijuana into modernity an erroneous premise of bureaucrats in Mexico City. During this time, heavy rains came down upon the city and the Rodriguez Dam had a significant amount of reserve that according to state officials needed to be released and without previous notice, the water swept away the carton made shacks.

The canal was part of a project that included boulevards similar to the one in Mexico City and other infrastructures that would intent to Mexicanize Tijuana by force. The Tijuana Cultural Center was one of the institutions that flourished from the illicit act of the River Zone

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Modernization and progress is supposedly what foreign industries where to offer Tijuana.
Maquiladoras are manufacturing plants that take advantage of cheap labor and relaxed regulations that the Mexican government allows on dumping of hazardous material. Acids, solvents and other poisons are liberated into the environment along the industrial parks of Tijuana. The Maquiladoras promoted jobs and security to an incoming population that settled in the eastern part of the city. Some of the communities began as invasions of property.
Today developers are building with the flag of social housing, homes that even the UN calls unfit for dignified living. Erecting homes in a serialized fashion covering extensive areas of land. In comparison to these communities, the invasion type development is greener and has improved in the past years. An act of illegality that became a positive outcome, where the fundamental precept of mens rea, does not apply, while the “legal” constructions of greedy developers are a product of a faulty government codes where loopholes become the main conduit of shady legality.

Squatter communities have illegal origins yet as they begin become legalized areas of the cities and infrastructures begin to appear, they tend to change into more formal communities and with a diverse spatial conditions. This does not happen in the serialized housing developments they are rented out and they loose their value and due to this condition a sense of community in never achieved.

Illfated architecture – Part IV

Our project dealt with a variety of issues. One a counter position to the institutionalized architecture of the 1970 that was imposed on Tijuana. The project intends to point out that most of the art and artist that have been working in Tijuana have done so on the street in auto didactical manner. The real art is in the city. The fence or grill work intends to represent this as well as its double meaning of safeguarding your patrimony from outsiders. Its permeability contrasts the original building heaviness and solidness. The public program is the focal point of the project and its elevated and protected with the grill work while the museum functions are located on grade or below grade. The building opens to the city via a large public plaza; the box in the box scheme lets interstitial spaces interact with the different lighting conditions the grill generates. The museum representation of modernity is in question, this museum intends to bring out artistic practices to the open and enclose the public space in a transparency.

Presentacion de dos proyectos de generica. Cecut y edificio Mandelbrot



Shameless self promotion

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Iniciando la chamba en UCLA, me toca dar una conferencia sobre el trabajo de generica y mi ciudad de Tijuana (Ann Jarmusch del San Diego Union-Tribune dice en su reportaje sobre TJ, "Peralta's City") el 31 de Enero. Para que vayan y después nos cenamos un pollito cubano en el Versailles!