Urban infrastructure is a gear of political power. Its aim is to conquer the
territory of the city and hold dominion over certain city relationships.
Public space is more than just a polygon delineated by coordinates, it is
a factory of social realities. There would be nothing problematic about
this power if it weren’t exclusive. Those who build the city exercise a
regulatory power over our mindset and our everyday experience. The
rhythms that regulate our hours, “our place” in society and the type of
roads we take on our daily commute are manifestations of this control.
Behind urban infrastructure are countless relationships of power as
well as a certain repertoire of knowledge, speeches, fashion and images
that tend to justify plunder or destruction. Therefore the overpass and
throughway turn out to be the material outcome of coalitions between
a wide range of ideas, beliefs and relationships, which constitute its true
power: they represent the city on the continual path of progress.
This is how planners, partners and administrators end up making
public spaces an ideological issue. Progress is no longer a visual
representation but a political reality that influences what should or
should not take up space in a city. This is an anarchical control – not
anarchistic – as its order depends on a battle with no rules, in which the
winners are those who manage to impose their will and have sufficient
strength to repel any resistance. Ultimately, this control will implode
because it systematically denies life and memory their rightful place.
Consequently, those who build the city are the fortunate winners in
a cacophonic bidding war. The guidelines are dictated by construction
companies that will raise the avenue in spite of public opposition. The
end results are cities that are ideal for doing business but not for living.
The affected parties have no choice but to resign themselves to the
inevitable or simply to move out. Progress is hard to dispute although it
erases all reference to proper living; the products are dregs-cities, burrs
stuck to the production line.