OF AN UNORTHODOX EMBASSY IN VENEZUELA
(HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND ENJOY THE FRIES)
LUIS YANEZ HERNANDEZ
Extrapolating from my childhood memories, this project explores an unorthodox embassy; the banal and the generic. These spaces represent something “other”, exceptions in the local culture. They also represent an extraterritorial zone through the use of protocols, security, and branding mechanisms. A “McDonald’s” is becoming a new version of the embassy as nation-states are constricting traditional embassies due to increased paranoia. The project reads embassies as political mechanisms that deal with thresholds, images, and interiorities. The structure of the project intertwines three childhood memories with the speculation of McDonald’s restaurants in Lecheria, Venezuela, as it questions ideas of publicity and the privatization of public space. In a landscape that struggles with the creation of civic life, the project explores ways of bending the architecture of globalized institutions.
The project is taking three establishments from the larger system, and tying them to the Venezuelan culture of my childhood. Each one has a condition that has prevailed in the Venezuelan context: the abandoned playground at the park, the darkness of the parking lot, and the militarization of the beach. Each design is a twist on the courtyard typology, a space that traditionally generates two versions of the ‘outside’. At the park, the courtyard becomes a trope for the castle. At the parking lot, the courtyard becomes an amphitheater. At the beach, the courtyard becomes a twenty-two kilometre structure. The McDonaldization of these spaces are examples of stabilization, rationalization, and control through coexistence.
The architecture is developed by studying three key areas that define the embassies’ territory:
1. The use of boundaries: Implementation of imperceptible security measures that makes the space feel safe but equally open.
2. The production and reproduction of the crafted image: The image of McDonald’s as the ‘other’ has to be carefully designed. It is not only a way to determine its global attributes, but as a way to separate itself from the city fabric.
3. The creation of inner space: the courtyard should be a platform for the multiplicity of activities to happen.
The embassies, as a series of establishments, can create a sort of ‘Emerald Necklace’ effect in the urban landscape, allowing pedestrians to transverse through city blocks. Each site is placed on a duality between two conditions. Therefore, the new embassies are no longer individual objects, but an interchangeable piece of a larger system.
Blair Satterfield [CHAIR]