From Arrival City to Permanence: Public Services and Educational Facilities in Tijuana

Lucia Alonso Aranda:

Migration is re-shaping the social, cultural, urban and economic landscapes of cities worldwide. Tijuana embodies several dimensions of the migration phenomenon: it is an arrival city, a passer-by city, and a city where people return to – some by choice and others by force. However, migrants face many challenges when settling in Tijuana, such as informality, complex land ownership, housing abandonment, shortage of public services and facilities, and a rugged topography. This dissertation studies how public services, education, and different housing typologies can empower an incoming migrant population and respond to the transition of becoming inhabitants of a city.

Plan of Zaragoza, 1921. Tijuana’s historical archive. Plan of Zaragoza (prior to being named Tijuana) or also called Plan
Orozco because of the engineer that elaborated it.  It proposed a reticular grid with  diagonal boulevards that were soon after transgressed and sold of for commercial property.

Using Tijuana as a case study, the dissertation proposes a network of centrally located mixed-used centres with different housing typologies, services, leisure, and education. The purpose of this project is to question how architects can engage with different users and household configurations and their necessities during different phases of settlement, in order to allow a more effective transition into becoming residents in the city. In an attempt to respond to Tijuana’s increasing incoming population, this project focuses on the rise of alternative providers of public services and education. It proposes an Urban Integration Network, a third party provider of basic services, housing, and education funded through a public-private partnership.

Alternative housing typologies

As seen from Tijuana, housing cannot continue to be developed in an isolated manner. This dissertation demonstrates one of the many ways in which mixed-used housing developments can occur. Additionally, this research concludes that mixed-used developments can offer many benefits to both existing neighbourhood and new inhabitants. It also provides many economic benefits, not just to its users, but also to the government and the private investor providing funds or facilities for the development of the project.

Progressive housing initially offers a typology of 50m2 with 2 habitable units: one containing a serviced core (kitchen, bathroom, and stairs) and a second room on the first floor to be used as a bedroom and living space. The original home can expand through 25m2 units, both on ground floor as well as the first floor. The smallest unit can house one to three people while the larger can house up to eight people (perhaps two different families within one house). Taking the typology of the adapted mobile home in Tijuana, Type 1 provides a concrete raised platform with a structure of concrete columns and beams placed along a 5 by 5 meter grid. On the ground floor, the empty units can be used as porches or eventually retail rental units, or workshops. Within the first floor, an additional 25m2 can be added on the already provided concrete slab. With the structure already provided, only walls are needed in order to have more space. By placing these units alongside one another, a larger community can be created through a larger slab with courtyards. While houses can grow depending on the needs, they can also allow for additional units on ground floor to be independent from the second floor. The raised platform provides terraces as well as a perimeter corridor for placing plants or stairs to access rooftops.

Progressive Type (Extended)

Integration is a process that results in people being able to fully participate in the social, cultural, economic, and political life of a society, without being forced to change aspects of their culture, traditions, and values.1 From a political standpoint, integration ultimately offers the possibility for people arriving at a receiving society to acquire citizenship alongside a significant role in the internal decision-making process of the place of destination. An initial step for increasing a migrant’s political integration is providing information about citizenship, the political system, and norms, among other topics. Habermas proposed that communication is the basis of the public sphere, with media being the means to facilitate dialogue and debate. Nancy Fraser acknowledges that Habermas’ concept of the public sphere is indispensable, especially in the context of multicultural societies. However, she asserts that for a multicultural society to be more equalitarian there must be ‘a plurality of public arenas in which groups with diverse values and rhetorics participate’.2 Therefore, spaces that facilitate conversation are highly important for an incoming population, as they allow for parallel discursive arenas to overlap. Conversation-based programmes3 create forums in which migrants can engage in informal conversations with the community and foster social relations. In this sense, educational facilities become particularly important as an entry point for migrants into a receiving society because they allow migrants to continue their studies, learn the language and traditions of a place, and as explored below, ultimately allow them to interact with other people.

Read the whole dissertation here.

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