Teddy Cruz, a member of the younger generation of American architects, examines the role of architecture, as well as the sociopolitical significance of institutions that represent architecture and urban planning at the turn of the millennium. His studies are closely related to the spatial policies in the US-Mexico border areas – more specifically, the busiest border crossing in the world, between San Diego and Tijuana. He believes that the research of socioeconomic, political and infrastructural particularities of a point in space and time is crucial for the architectural practice and production of space.
ORIS: Estudio Teddy Cruz is internationally recognized for its research on informal architecture and cross-border urbanism. In your opinion, what lies beyond the romanticized image of the informal? What are the real political, social, and economic potentials of urban leftover areas?
Cruz: One of the most important issues underlying our research has been to produce new conceptions and interpretations of the informal. So far, I think, we continue to be seduced with the ‘image’ of the informal, and we are not translating its actual operative procedures. Instead of a fixed image, I see the informal as a functional set of urban operations that allow the transgression of imposed political boundaries and top-down economic models. I see the informal not as a noun but as a verb, which detonates traditional notions of site specificity and context into a more complex system of hidden socio-economic exchanges. I see the informal as the urban unwanted, that which is left over after the pristine presence of architecture with a capital ‘A’ has been usurped and transformed into the tenuous scaffold for social encounter. I see the informal as the site of a new interpretation of community, citizenship and praxis. This is the reason I am interested in the emergent urban configurations produced out of social emergency, and the performatic role of individuals constructing their own spaces.