Anagram City: Space and Place

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Throughout the history of mankind, space and place have been studied as part of a physical, mental, or social dimension, but never all at the same time; the lack of vision that this generates represents the main problem of disconnection between conceived and lived space within our urban territories.

Cities are more often a product of unintended consequences more than anything else, and public space is the heart of their definition. We are surrounded by space; we build experience through the meaning we assign to it, as part of the process of placemaking. Architecture is the form of mediation between space and people. It can condition our behavior or help us transform our environments for better or worse.

“We must first change our old ways of seeing in order to rethink our future.”

Anagram City was created as an urban research project that seeks to approach this correspondence issue by integrating the three dimensions into a single methodology of study, using big data visualization systems. The model was designed to be applicable to any place or geographical context.

Nine interactive maps (based on nine different algorithms) are the resulting outputs of each case study. They reveal information about space as an object, as a boundary, as a path, as a relationship, as an event, as orientation, as meaning, as an experience, and as place.

The Site

Plaza de la República is the biggest public square in Mexico City. It is located in the central part of town and it covers 49,000 square meters (525,280 square feet) of urban territory. Its daily basis occupation is approximately 3,500 people and 6,000 on weekends.

It was originally designed as part of the project for the new legislative palace in 1917, which was cancelled after the Mexican Revolution started. What is now the Monument of the Mexican revolution used to be the central dome of the senate chamber. Its metal structure was abandoned for more than 20 years until Carlos Santasilia imagined a new use for it.

For many years, this public space was used for meetings, protest, and takeovers, until 2010 when it was renovated as part of the festivities for the bicentennial of Mexican independence. As part of the renovation project, 88 waterjets were installed in the center of the square allowing people interact and give a new life to the urban space.

Aerial photography © Eduardo Gorozpe F.
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