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Spaces between buildings

Doug Saunders recently published a great piece in the Globe and Mail about the “the dead spaces between buildings” and the architectural revolution that is taking place from Mexico City to Toronto to solve this underappreciated problem.

The example in Mexico City is that of the San Pablo Xalpa public housing complex where architect Rozana Montiel transformed the underutilized spaces between the apartment buildings into vibrant “common-unity” spaces. 

This meant removing 95% of the fences and gates that had previously been erected as safeguard against the unsavory people and acts that were taking place in these open spaces.

The underlying goal was to try and address the socioeconomic decline that had taken root in Mexico’s public housing complexes. And there was a sense that part of the problem was simply their physical design.

Of course, this is partially about trying to correct the failures of post-war planning. But I think this conversation around the “spaces between buildings” shouldn’t just be a corrective one. It can be broader than that.

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