“Radicalizing the Local: 60 Miles of Trans-border Urban Conflict”
Teddy Cruz and San Diego- Tijuana Border On borders Van Houtum asks whether altering the foundations of boundaries and borderings nationally lead to transforming the border, and whether possibility exists for a different organization and design of border landscape (Van Houtum, 2013:180) Next to performative characteristic and altering artistic practices, this question introduces the possibility of design in the borderspace. an Houtum’s question opens up a critical ground for integrated research and practice with design. Therefore, in this chapter, the cross disciplinary practice of Teddy Cruz is used as an example to be explored. Cruz’s practice is another important example of border-crossing artistic research: it integrates design thinking and practice as an architectural praxis combined with theoretical research. Setting up his workplace along the San Diego-Tijuana border for years now, Cruz accentuates the generative and transformative capacity of the knowledge that has piled up on border space through this case.
San Diego and Tijuana cities make a dependent urban complex, although the border bisects and there is uneven development, economic, and social life between the two sides. For example, while migrant workers go to San Diego, the urban waste of San Diego flows to Tijuana. Border cities enact strange mirror effects, and the leftovers of San Diego houses are recycled into countless new housing possibilities in Tijuana .
For the border’s bisection, Cruz makes the argument for the Political Ecuador that separates the global south and north in every meaning. The meetings of Political Ecuador have been taking place since 2006 in sites of conflict and institutions and dealing with ‘urban pedagogy towards citizen action’.
Asking whether the crisis in urban and/or the conflict on border space has any potential for design, Cruz explores the site and conditions through interviews, dialogues, and narratives. These are acts of closely engaging with the bottom-up, and they closely reorganize our thinking. (2011: 22) The close exploration of community behaviours suggest spatial strategies to the architect who acts as an expanded practitioner. Public interest expands the practice of the architect to a cross-disciplinary level.
In this installation made on the border in 2008, Cruz takes some kind of an architectural section of 60 miles of borderspace. These 60 miles in total, 30 miles on each side of the border, somehow collide with the definition of borderspace, and make the conflicts and relationships visible on both sides. For example, (+ is San Diego, – is for Tijuana) +30 miles in San Diego is named and explained as “[c]onflict between master-planned gated communities and the natural topography”, while -20 miles into Tijuana is “[c]onflict between density and sprawl”.