The most interesting thing about the border scenario in Ceuta, was the economic development that was occuring in Fnideq (Los Castillejos in Spanish). Polygonal Tarajal, which is located in Spain, directly adjacent to the border in the large shedded area, was something I could not have fathomed. Only open on Saturday and Sunday, this “Walmart of Spain” sold anything from oreos to full size matresses. The ability for Moroccans to access Ceuta for 24 hours makes Polygonal Tarajal an intense site of activity and interaction with European material goods. For Moroccans, the goods are cheap (50% Value added tax reduction) and European. For Ceutans, Los Castillejos is very accesible and has knock-off goods that are drastically cheaper than anywhere in the EU. This cross-border exchange promotes coexistence and informal transportation flows, as seen with the people walking above and on the highway.

The 1.5 km highway connecting Ceuta and Fnideq is an artery for flows of all sorts and all age types. For the tourist, the grand taxi hub which is the first thing one sees when entering Morocco, is a point of departure for larger cities or typical tourist destinations: Tetouan, Chefchaouen, and Fez. For Moroccans, the border crossing is simply another doorstep in their “extended” neighborhood.

Zooming out, the images below juxtapose the condition and undeniable emergent dynamic in Morocco: Morocco is growing, due to the proximity and material flows from the EU.

Expansion and transnational cooperation is inevitable, and the design must acknowledge this.




Webislam, a Spanish speaking moderate-muslim media, has just published the interview I had with El Faro Digital.

The article can be read here:

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I have just returned from my recent trip to Ceuta, and the Spanish | Moroccan border, where in today’s paper, Ceuta’s El Faro Digital, published an interview with me.

Moritz_Siebert on Flickr.

Tomorrow morning, I will be traveling to Ceuta. The territorial divide will be interesting to visualize, and will in many ways either validate or refute the research being conducted. I am most nervous to garner information on the Moroccan side of the border, where laws dictating border regulations are not as clear. Hopefully the trip is filled with new discoveries and interesting juxtapositions.

It is so long for this traveler, and off to the split of the world.

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As we all are preparing for our final review presentations, I thought it good to share our most recent production. Further book copy revisions to come. Final review is Wednesday, Dec. 15, in room 325.

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View this document on Scribd
View this document on Scribd

1| Instant Coffee Disco Fallout Shelter 2009 Concept collage.

Relational aesthetics is a book (and now a micro art movement) by Nicolas Bourriaud. It preferences the contingency of social interaction to create a social environment to re-invent modes of thinking about art. It places the “artist,” out of the context of; [maker of art object]. This makes art an encounter between inter-subjected participants, creating meaning through collaboration.

Bourriaud’s critique is that the resultant social engagement between people is in effect, a form of an art object.

How can architects draw parallels with this?

There is a heavy emphasis on space and time within relational aesthetics that is pretty interesting.

“(Relational Aesthetics)…refers to artwork that is open-ended, interactive and resistant to closure. Relational Art takes place in time and space and creates interactive communicative experiences and intersubjective encounters in which meaning is ellaborated collectively.” – Legier Biederman.

I like thinking about this in relation to architecture as it not only eschews placement on interaction rather than “creator,” but it maintains that the space of encounter is critical for “something” to be created. It actually eschews an emphasis on the space rather than the creator. The architect then, is simply a retooler of space to make interactions salient. The architect is no longer visionary, but an ambassador of space.

In addition, the space of encounter is endless. An endless chain of contributions may ensue. What if architecture designed for not only flexibility,  but for the idea of an endless social encounter?
Can we design for the spatial encounter?

“Social, cultural, economic, and demographic shifts are pushing reappraisals of architecture. It is important to note the role of agency (shaping institutions) in these neighborhoods. In Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud suggests that form is a way of anticipating encounter, and that in a sense, we as architects can also design collaboration.” (Ballesteros, 158)

1 | Image from the Canadian Art.

“With Disco Fallout Shelter, the group has purposely turned the tables on that all-inclusive mode of working. Instead, the locked doors and mysterious subterranean workings are designed to be overtly exclusive. Sounds emanating from below ground suggest that the spartan interior of a bomb shelter has been transformed into a signature Instant Coffee party centre. This time, though, the catch is that only members of the collective are invited to the artful merrymaking. Viewers can ‘participate’ via an above-ground video kiosk showing (pre-recorded) footage of members ‘playing records, eating spaghetti, dancing, reading, sleeping and just hanging out in the tight confines and under the protective barrier of shelter.’”

This photo and the montage above reminds me of Berlin. It is in the dead of the night that an unused storefront space becomes a clandestinely networked social encounter. It is there, no matter where, that the culture of Berlin, ensues-endlessly.

2| Party in Berlin. Viernullvier on flickr.


Ballesteros, Mario. Verb Crisis. Barcelona: Actar, 2008. Print.
Ibid., 158