Of the segregation | Pedro Hernández

40 Riverside Boulevard Designed by Goldstein Hill & West Architects | Source: inhabitat.com

A few days ago the blog of architecture Unhabitat was aiming – rather well it was questioning – at the existence of a building in New York that was having two income: an access “for poor” placed in the lateral part and other one, located in the main face, where the most wealthy persons could accede. The text aims that, though “the racial segregation was abolished in the USA in 1964”, the recent decision of the Department of Preservation and Development of New York of approving a building with doors separated depending on the economic stratum to which they belong was supporting, “for obvious reasons”, to the divided city.

Though it is true that we are before a clear sample of slightly democratic architecture, I think, nevertheless, that towards this architecture they cannot stop take the critiques by the simple one “obvious reasons”. The architecture is, in yes, a manifestation of the social conducts. If the construction presents two doors it is because he executes inside social system values / allow this type of actions – let’s not be going to say for it that they should be good. The relation between the social forms and the architectural forms is intimately tied, up to the point that it is not possible to see with clarity if they are the changes in the architecture – materials, technologies, etc. – those who generate social changes, or if they are the above mentioned those who demand a new architecture.  What yes is true that new you form – social or architectural – new spatial practices propitiate. To aim simply that we are before a new case of social discrimination – is racial or economic – without understanding it inside a more wide context it is to attend very little to certain realities that also are present in ours day after day, but in whose origin contains decisions near to here aimed.

Beaufort House in Chelsea by John Thorpe, 1597

For example, in his famous text Figueres, doors and corridors, Robin Evans explains, among other things, the origin and evolution of the corridor. To the first sight the corridor, the corridor or distributor – as and since we it deal now – assume it as an obvious part of many houses. In spite of it, Evans aims that the first time that appears is in England in the House Beaufort, Chelsea designed by John Thorpe about 1597. Before that it the different rooms of a house were connecting one with other one across doors. With the ascent of the middle class new spatial conditions were needed. Already it was not necessary that the service was occupying and crossing the spaces deprived of the owners. The corridor was avoiding any type of undesirable invasion:

“The corridor was for the servants: to support them out of the way of others and, more importantly still, to support them out of the way of the ladies and gentlemen”.

The introduction of the corridor to the domestic architecture inscribed first a deep division between the social high and low classes supporting consecutive direct access for the familiar circle favoured while the servants were never recorded to a contiguous limited territory, but inside the own house; always to hand but never present until one asks them”.

In spite of that several centuries ago of that one, the social segregation due to the economic status of the person is still in force. Let’s think about many of the houses that they exist in our cities. They are different of them those who present a space of bedroom destined for the service. The work Rooms of service of the artist Daniela Ortiz is a sample of it. Ortiz has gathered and registered diverse architectural examples – of different decades – of the city of Lima, demonstrating that the company has not changed so much in spite of the years. If beyond the dimension, we observe in addition the distribution that presents the house, we will be able to see that there is avoided any possibility of meeting and shock between the áreas de servicio – kitchen, zones of wash, etc. – and the rest, making a domestic space segregated for inhabitants and service. This way, not new at all we are in the notes of Inhabitat.

Yes, the architecture can be read as a way of control of the bodies – see in the link of more above Evans’s complete text – in the measure that tries always to avoid unwanted frictions – that one not foreseen in the planeación. That is to say, the architecture takes years ordenanando the bodies, already be with limits, borders, income, corridors or rooms of service.

The functional house for a life without Alexander Klein’s frictions, 1928

Pedro Hernández · architect
ciudad de méxico. december 2014

Soy arquitecto por la Universidad de Alicante, pero mi interés sobre esta disciplina se encuentra alejado de su papel tradicional de diseño de espacios. Más bien, me interesa entender cómo las representaciones de la arquitectura, el paisaje, el diseño o el territorio construyen y materializan determinados discursos ideológicos, imponiendo posturas, subjetividades y formas de acción sobre los cuerpos que la habitan.

En mi trabajo edito estos discursos –sus imágenes, sus historias o sus restos materiales– y reelaboro comentarios críticos que ponen en evidencia sus controversias y contradicciones, formalizándolos en diversos formatos como textos, fotografías, vídeos, objetos o instalaciones, muchas veces entrecruzados entre sí.

He publicado artículos y ensayos en diversos medios de Estados Unidos, Italia, Croacia, España, Chile y México. Desde enero de 2013-2018 residí en la Ciudad de México donde trabajaba como coordinador de contenidos en Arquine. Actualmente resido en Madrid.

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Filed under: lighthouse, Pedro Hérnandez Martínez

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