“… the privatisation of the public realm, through the growth of ‘private-public’ space, produces over controlled, sterile places which lack connection to the reality and diversity of the local environment, with the result that they all tend to look the same. They also raise serious questions about democracy and accountability. But perhaps most worrying of all are the effects on cohesion, battered by the creation of atomised enclaves of private space which displace social problems into neighbouring districts. This process enhances the ‘hot spot’/‘cold spot’ pattern which is already an entrenched part of the urban landscape” (The Privatisation of Public Space, Anna Minton).
A Public (AR) Intervention
With the recent onslaught of condo developments – specifically in the south-west (Le Sud-Ouest) sector of Montreal – the boundaries between Private and Public Space/s have become blurred and ambiguous. It’s no longer a simple question of potential buyers acquiring space/s for personal enjoyment as was the case with home purchases. Condo developments incorporate a more subtle and sinister objective – to control the surrounding space/s in order to guarantee maximum privacy and pleasure for its residents. An example of this can be witnessed with the condo developments along the Lachine Canal in the St. Henri area. Here privately owned condos stand like towering sentinels over a narrow strip of publicly accessible green space along the canal. Most of the green space is also cut by a bike path, leaving little room to wander and enjoy the canal. The only thing that has stopped the privatization and further encroachment of this green space as well as the canal itself is the fact that they are owned by the Canadian Government.
Furthermore, condos are constructed as gated communities onto themselves, accessible only to its residents and with no intent of interfacing with each other or the public. There are no gardens lining the streets, or spaces where children can be seen playing. These sterile, obtrusive and towering structures stand watch on the pedestrians below, tolerating the momentary passage of pedestrians moving on the public sidewalks and paths below.
These gentrified occupations via condo developments redefine our own relationship to the space/s we occupy and move through as well as our own personal, social and cultural identities. They close rather than open up the spaces. Open spaces trigger imagination and possibilities. Closed spaces demand compliance and limitations.
These occupied zones should be open green spaces and accessible to all – specifically the areas along the Lachine canal. These spaces should not be governed by the privileged few based on speculation and financial worth. After all, these historical space/s exist exactly because of public interaction and public funds – not private occupation – which evolved over hundreds of years.
Through a new technological process called augmented reality (AR) we can in fact insert our expressions (visual and vocal) onto the spaces being occupied by condo developers. AR allows us the ability to insert multi-media based interventions onto the specific geo-locations of the existing condos, future developments and the offices of the condo developers themselves. Media can include, text, audio, video, 2D images and 3D sculptural objects. Media can then be accessed via any smart device (phone, iPad, android tablet). As well, full documentation of the media and its geo-locations will be posted on this site (via the AR Interactive Map) for those who may not have access to smart devices.
The wonderful aspect of this intervention is that even if the work/media is ignored by the condo developers and residents, it will in no way stop their halls and buildings from being occupied (haunted) by these interventions.
Above photo: The Master Plan | Planned construction of 2 six-story towers on the Lachine Canal near Atwater Market at rue St. Patrick | Ponte-Saint-Charles (Le Sud-Ouest), Montreal | 2013 | John Naccarato
The alarming escalation of condo developments in Montreal has begun to gut the cultural and social infrastructure of the city. Such developments cater to a small niche of the population with no clear philosophy by its developers or city politicians as to their impact on neighbourhoods and the city.
What is for certain is that such developments have triggered mass gentrification of low income neighbourhoods and historic areas throughout Montreal such as the Sud-Ouest area along the Lachine Canal.
Above Photo: The Master Plan (02) | Planned construction of 2 six-story towers on the Lachine Canal near Atwater Market at rue St. Patrick | Ponte-Saint-Charles (Le Sud-Ouest), Montreal | 2013 | John Naccarato
So what can be done about it? Though we cannot directly (physically) reclaim the spaces which have been lost to gentrification and condofication, we can re-appropriate these spaces through a virtual (Augmented Reality – AR) Public Intervention. In so doing an awareness may be created as to the spaces we occupy and move through and how critical such spaces are to our own personal, social and cultural identities.
Above Photo: An example of three AR photo images floating through the space where the planned construction of the two six-story condo towers is taking place. Even after construction is completed these images will continue to intervene (haunt) the spaces inside the condo towers – its rooms and hallways.
The proposed virtual (AR) intervention will consist of four channels. Each channel compliments each other to explore the complexity and importance of the space/s we occupy and move through – in this case Saint-Henri and the adjoining neighborhoods of Little Burgundy, Pointe-Saint-Charles, Saint-Paul-Émard and Griffintown. These neighborhoods each share a rich history and have had a important and profound effect not only on Montreal and Quebec but the rest of Canada. However their very existence – their past, present and future identity – is now threatened by the onslaught of mass gentrification.
- Augmented Reality (AR) markers will identify areas under threat of gentrification
- Augmented Reality (AR) markers will identify condo developers and developments: existing, proposed and under development.
- Augmented Reality (AR) markers will identify historical buildings and sites.
- The virtual version of the Augmented Reality (AR) markers are accessible via any smart device (android, iPhone, iPad) and app (details coming)
- The online version of the Augmented Reality (AR) markers can also be seen and accessed at the link AR (Interactive) Map: CH 01: Spaces | Espaces