Landscape and the Housing Project

November 7, 2008 § Leave a comment

So, I’ve been pondering the housing project in North America, or the council estate in the UK, and the way it is constructed, the landscaping, and what this means.  There are several projects of varying size in the neighbourhood I live in, and one set of PJs has me intrigued.  There is a large central courtyard in the middle of this block.  On the west side, there is 19th century working-class rowhousing (in this part of Montréal, these are predominately 2-story buildings), on the east side, the same.  But on the southside is a small-scale housing project, an apartment block. On the northside, there is a series of similar apartment blocks.  The courtyard in the middle one day when I wandered into it looked like I could be in any major North American city: Baltimore, New York City, Chicago, Toronto, Philadelphia just as much as I could be in Montréal.  Cars on cinder blocks in the parking lot.  Toys and debris littered across the grass.  Some kids playing basketball, a boy and a girl hidden away in a corner looking for privacy, people on their balconys surveying the scene, a dude fixing his car blasting some bad hip hop (there is both good and bad hip hop).

A few weeks later, we were watching the American TV show, The Wire. The show, for a good deal of it anyway, is set in a housing project in Baltimore.  The landscape was identical, though on a larger scale, to what I saw three blocks away in Montréal.  So I got to thinking about the commonality of architecture in the housing project, and why that architecture became so universal, what it meant for notions of security, or at least what it was meant to mean for notions of security, and how Benthamite this all seemed to me.

To this end, in the coming weeks, I will be posting to the CTlab, once I put my thoughts on the housing project in some coherent order.  Stay tuned!

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