Thursday, June 01, 2006

Security as status symbol

Polar Inertia, a Subtopian fav, has a great little photo stream of security huts, or "casitas"; those little "structures that are specifically built to house and provide shelter for the security guards that are ubiquitous in the wealthy neighborhoods (Lomas de Chapultepec) of Mexico City."

"These photographs depict the architectural/cultural dichotomy of having a 10 sq. ft structure in front of a 2000 sq. ft. mansion and where both serve the same function of a ‘house’."

Jeremy Clouser mentions the absence of zoning in Mexico City which makes for a hodge podge of oddly neighboring buildings, but, he says, "one thing that is uniform in these neighborhoods is the explicit displays of security; exemplified by 20 foot high walls, one-way mirrored glass, the security guards themselves, and the structures they inhabit."

Though, some look more like ornate porta-potties, or makeshift homeless shelters, or silly construction posts that never got broken down after their work was finished, not mentioned in the series is how many casitas exist on the corners and curbsides, how many jobs are actually provided, how much a security guard makes spending his life in what kind of amounts to an open-face prison cell. I remember when I was in San Jose, Costa Rica, a couple of years ago, I remarked on the intense security fences which encaged nearly every house in every middle class neighborhood in the capital (which gave the appearance of a high degree of crime in the area), and someone told me that it wasn't for the fear of crime or break-in's (San Jose is actually a pretty safe place), but the crazy household bars and garage cages were more so for pure status symbol, as if to suggest there was much value inside the house worthy of being robbed; a sort of psuedo-elitism in the form of an ugly and manacing military urbanism. Kind of equivalent, I suppose, to those little decorative Alarm Company signs that are so proudly placed in every suburban garden of America's middle class front yard.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What you are doing with this blog is BRILLIANT.
I just learned of it, and now I can't stop browsing through what you've collected here.

3:24 PM  
Anonymous lorenza said...

Agree 100% with the comment above. Bryan: your work is sensational. I'd love you to visit Brazil one day. Here unfortunately you'll find material for a manual on "how to build walls". Maybe before the Olympic games? Take care.

6:14 AM  

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