Team work with Mari Paz Agundez Leria,  Christina Papadopoulou, Catalina Jardón, Mariam Khademi

The border of Ceuta, separating the Spanish Schengen Area from Morocco and the African continent represents a dichotomy of productivity and inequality. While it embodies a productive space and generates urban life, it is also inherently a site of collision as it is a mechanism for separation. Along with its corollary infrastructure, the border triggers the informal formation of urban settlements, contributing to an increase in socio-economic injustice. Embedded in its frontier character is a ubiquitous misrepresentation of people inhabiting the border districts, which are consistently associated with a population group that is illegal, dissimilar, or undesirable.

Consequently, Ceuta is defined by a distinct socio-spatial division between the city center, hosting an predominantly Christian upper class, and the border districts, accommodating a working class of largely muslim background and a considerable migrant community. Social segregation is furthered by the exclusion of the border regions from any masterplan to date, leading to uncontrolled construction of informal settlements surrounding the border. Furthermore, the vast military presence, largely attributed to the surveillance of the border to the European Union, puts additional restraints to the usage of space, due to extensive securitised zones.

To challenge this misrepresentation of the border districts based on social and racial segregation, our proposal aims to activate the border region and make out of it a polarized space of attraction. The project intends to do this virtually, exploiting technological possibilities, such as social media. As reference, we have relied on architect Andrés
Jacque’s Sex and the So-Called City(2017), in which he explains behaviours of New York City investors and constructors, isolating project sites based on the volume of virtual activity occurring in certain neighbourhoods. Places with higher volume of virtual activity become “hotspots”, more likely to attract investors and gentrification.

Increasing the traffic at a specific geolocation, we will boost social media activity at the border. The project will source virtual activity and content on internet platforms such as, i.e. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, pinpointing the geolocation to the border. In doing so, we hope
to not only manipulate the perception of the area to attract potential investors to transform the space, but to create a fundamental social reaction in the enclave, encouraging citizens to participate in the negotiation of the borderscape, rather than forfeiting it to the border infrastructure.

In addition to virtual activity, our proposal further acts in a transcalarway, connecting the virtual and physical world. We implement a series of wireless poles distributed around the border, which act as a multipliers and generators of virtual activity. The poles are also
equipped with sound recording devices and cameras which will record the still life at the border, generating material that will be uploaded in the virtual world. Thus, showing in the virtual world the reality of the border; the still life, the sounds, and the scenery.