An online competition spurred by his proposal has launched a fierce debate among architects and border communities. What do local communities think? — The New Republic
Architect, urbanist, and professor Teddy Cruz, who has been working on both sides of the San Diego-Tijuana border for 25 years, presented the competition as a moment in which architects cannot remain neutral. Sometimes, he said, architects must decide when not to build, since “the politics of neutrality has rendered architecture a pure decoration of very unjust policies.”
He added, “Instead of building walls that are dividing communities and dividing environments, we should be looking at border regions as laboratories for rethinking citizenship, for rethinking resilience, for producing new strategies of interdependence and cooperation and co-existence.” This framework is central to his own practice, in which he has designed multi-functional housing informed by the creative building strategies, extended family structures, and cultural life of informal settlements in Tijuana and immigrant neighborhoods in San Diego.
Perhaps there is a broader lesson that can be drawn from the controversy over the border wall. “That wall is reproduced everywhere inside of our American cities,” Cruz said. They might not contain physical walls, but America’s cities are defined by “urban policies that divide jurisdictions and communities” and “an urban asymmetry that has perpetuated socio-economic inequality.” Even places far from the border, it seems, could use some more crossings.