Teddy Cruz runs the research-based architecture studio Estudio Teddy Cruz in San Diego, CA. The forward-looking architect recently won a Ford Foundation Visionary Award.
Architect Teddy Cruz started off Tuesday's lecture at Dartmouth College with an example of a profession's paradigm shift. After returning from Iraq for the first time, Gen. David Petraeus remarked that a new type of solider is needed—a soldier that is equal parts social worker, anthropologist and psychologist. Similarly, the role of the architect needs shifting from that of purely designers to those who understand the entire context of the geography they are building in—essentially, to engage in "critical proximity" to social conflicts in the immediate area.
Cruz moved on to describing the conflicted relationship between San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico. These are two cities that "repel each other." In one of his installations, Cruz drew a 60 mile imaginary line between the two cities and photographed the (sub)urban geographies along the way. This composite image was then superimposed on a portion of the U.S.-Mexico border wall that ends at the Pacific Ocean. The border wall, says Cruz, "transforms San Diego into the world's largest gated community."
Next, Cruz elaborated upon his investigation into how San Diego and Tijuana are actually symbiotic. There are a series of "trans-border flows," including the waste from America that is recycled and reused in Mexico. Thus, "one city builds itself with the waste of the other."
Lastly, Cruz talked about another kind of flow—of houses—and how it shapes urban adaptation. Entire homes, replicas of San Diego-style ranch houses, will be transported to Tijuana where they are propped up on giant scaffolding. Underneath is room for businesses, parking, and more houses. Levittowns have been "recycled into Tijuana slums." Cruz doesn't want to "glorify poverty," but to better understand "human resourcefulness" and to shape the future of the architecture profession around this insight.