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BEATING THE BOUNDS: SWITCHING BOUNDARIES OVER FIVE MILLENNIA
The area Dartmoor in south-central Devon is today known as southwest England’s “last great wilderness.” Yet, as if to defy this categorization, this territory has known nearly four million years of human occupation. Today, to the trained eye, signs of human habitation, utilization and exploitation are everywhere. This article reviews the history of Dartmoor, particularly as conflicts over its possession and use have led to its being etched by boundaries. These boundaries, however, are not natural or self evident; rather they are a matter of perception. And through the years, as the land has served many purposes — commons, royal forest, private enclosure, mining site, military training ground, national park — these perceptions have had to be rehearsed to be properly remembered and passed down from one generation to the next.
POVERTY AS A ‘THEME PARK’: CHRISTIAN NORMS AND PHILANTHROPIC FORMS OF HABITAT FOR HUMANITY
Habitat for Humanity’s newly created Global Village and Discovery Center presents visitors with a stark contrast between replicas of poor urban housing and new Habitat-built model homes. Inadvertently dubbed a “Slum Theme Park” by its creators, the village and center, on 2.5 acres just outside the organization’s international headquarters in Americus, Georgia, is intended to provide middle-class Americans the chance to personally experience conditions of poverty in the developing world. It is also intended to gather funds and attract volunteers for Habitat’s international housing efforts. This article explores the meaning and practices of the Global Village and Discovery Center and attempts to understand its principal motivations. It engages different attributes of the project using a variety of theoretical models: the concept of the “tourist gaze”; the theming of entertainment and heritage parks in general; notions of American volunteerism and philanthropy; and the idea of the urban danger zone as a tourist site. In attempting to connect the literature on development with that on tourism, it concludes by suggesting the project may be viewed as representing both forms of “creative destruction” and “destructive creation.”
USE, APPROPRIATION, AND PERSONALIZATION OF SPACE IN MEXICAN HOUSING PROJECTS AND INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
Given the great need for housing, there is today in Mexico a low-income housing construction boom, which is favoring the development of large, standardized projects. At the same time, informal settlements continue to expand and consolidate, providing flexible environments and opportunities to those who cannot access “formal” options. This study aims at understanding how each of these built environments facilitates or hinders the fulfillment of different needs. It analyzes two housing projects and two informal settlements, and concludes that flexible environments have more potential to fulfill the needs of low-income families.
BUILDING IN THE CLIMATE OF THE NEW WORLD: A CULTURAL OR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE?
Mary Ann Steane
The relationship between appearance, available technology, and environmental context is one of the central concerns of Amos Rapoport’s famous House Form and Culture. This essay examines the evolution of a particular seventeenth-century building type, the English “hall-and-parlor” house, in response to new climatic and cultural conditions experienced by the first English settlers in Massachusetts, and its subsequent transformation into the New England “saltbox.” In this review of the impact of environmental factors on cultural assumptions, attention is given both to the layout of individual houses and to larger settlements. The essay underlines that a response to the demands of a new climate can engender or reinforce significant cultural change.
ON PRESERVATION: REINVENTING THE CAVE: COMPETING IMAGES, INTERPRETATIONS, AND REPRESENTATIONS OF MATERA, ITALY
Matera, Italy, is currently the subject of a municipal tug-of-war over image and significance. Infamy resulting from poor living conditions in its extensive cave dwellings led to the expansion and recasting of the city in the 1950s as a modernist utopia. This was followed by decades during which these areas, known as the Sassi, were allowed to deteriorate. Today, however, renewed interest in the historic city and an internationally visible preservation program are allowing Matera to pursue a program of tourist redevelopment as a cave city. However, tension is emerging among residents on how and what to preserve, and even whether or not to preserve. The present conflict has taken form according to a rhetoric of tradition versus modernity. But both arguments and results represent modern interpretations of the past influenced by outside perceptions.