Design Your City, Mexico City

Most cities have suffered radical changes in their structure, more and more they become disarticulated from their suburbs and marginalized areas, which destroy any willingness to integrate and share. They are zoned and separated into ghettoes, segregating themselves according to social class, commercial areas, uses and services, which creates a social barrier towards people who relate to them directly or indirectly. This postmodern view of planning the way we create cities through the neo liberal capitalist structure has led to alternate communities that depend on the City as their sole source of livelihood. In turn, generating suburbs lacking identities, ghost cities where productive lives are nonexistent, bedroom communities where the workforce commutes to fulfill their workday and repeat the same daily routine to a city, which is usually devoid of the necessary roads to ease their mobility. These are places where new generations have found their identity in marginalization, poverty, crime, drugs and family disintegration, condemning themselves to an increasingly uncertain future for the development of communities.

The project analyzes the way in which young people from the suburbs and marginalized areas relate to the city and its urban environment as well as the way they perceive public space. In some cases, these suburbs are sandwiched between walls, security gates and control booths called “social housing developments” or “gated communities”, created as a false solution to the housing needs of suburbs or areas in need of housing. They are very far from generating a social and sustainable city that integrates and gives its residents an identity. These large areas are sown with identical “drawers” in endless amounts without considering the physical, social or cultural characteristics of the people who will inhabit them. This phenomenon has gone on for the past twenty years, new generations have inhabited these prefabricated spaces devoid of identities, with malls substituting for public space and the relationships they form among their inhabitants, encouraging a consumer culture. Mobility is another factor involved in the disarticulation of suburbs to the city because they lack sufficient infrastructure that directly and efficiently links the different urban centers with the city.

The purpose of this proposal is to link two different suburbs in two different continents: on one hand, Zalog, a suburb of Ljubljana, Slovenia and on the other hand a marginalized area of eastern Mexico City. This relationship will exist through a workshop, which will serve as a means to express the way in which people relate to their community, public space and the city, how they use public space, which public spaces are more popular and which are self segregated by social barriers. These perceptions of space will be expressed graphically and audio-visually through murals, diagrams, interviews and activities that will encourage the students to participate. By way of introduction, a series of images, audiovisuals and documentaries of each of the cities will be presented to throw light upon their social problems, show their similarities and garner the interest and willingness to participate from the students.

The workshop will foster the analysis of the students to “design” their ideal city, which will respond to the way they perceive public space and the way they would like to break the social and physical barriers to link up with the areas in the city they do not usually use. This information will be documented in video for post-production, the result of which will be presented in both places showing the opposite side’s project. After this, interviews will be held to capture the student’s views and opinions of the information shown.

The larger purpose of this project is to promote awareness in young people about the use of public spaces, social integration, reconstruction of its environment and articulation between the suburbs and the city. As well as analyzing the degree of marginalization, segregation and social disintegration of the inhabitants and the way this affects their life quality and expectations.

The result of the workshop will end in the post-production and exhibition of the audiovisual material and a conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in the context of the project presentation of the CulburB event, their publication and a conference in the National Autonomous University of Mexico UNAM.

Text by Daniel Diaz Vidaurri


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