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Borde de Banqueta

Sarah Kantrowitz | Master in Architecture I, Candidate

Sky Milner | Master in Design Studies


Against the backdrop of mass removals of street vendors and changing conceptions of the role of city space, this project investigated the formal and informal forces that negotiate between the public and private life of Mexico City’s sidewalks. Using close-in pole-mounted aerial videography, long-form hand drawn sections, and urban drift, we documented material traces of public and private sidewalk dynamics in a range of neighborhoods around the city. Based on conversations with local residents, street vendors, brick and mortar businesses, and city officials, together with close observation, we cataloged the artifacts and practices of the public life of Mexico City’s sidewalks as an emergent property of the density of competing, non-consensual, or seamlessly overlapping privatizations of the space claimed by everyone along the sidewalk. We identified seating, greenery, hygiene/cleanliness, and open space as domains of activity often managed by street vendors, each with the capacity to simultaneously make generous contributions to public life. These domains are a promising site for further research into strategies for supporting unity of purpose between the powerful engine of informality in Mexico City and enhanced ownership, access, and enjoyment of sidewalk spaces for the general public.
1. How do formal and informal interventions along sidewalks negotiate the publicness and privateness
of space?
2. How is the publicness of public space constituted and defended in the absence of consolidated topdown
3. What are the self-interested practices of private actors along the sidewalk that contribute
affordances to the general public? What are the practices that detract?
4. What are the infrastructural opportunities for urban designers to leverage and support the informal
activities along the sidewalk that contribute to public ownership, access, and enjoyment of sidewalk
METHODS (details to follow)
1. go pro on a pole
2. long section
3. walking
4. taxi navigation
5. printed pamphlet
6. photo booklet
7. calling card
8. workshop