We've written a lot about green cities, car-free cities, and mash-up cities. But a crime-free city? That's what developers in Guatemala claim they are building. Located just seven miles south of Guatemala City, Paseo Cayala is an urban enclave that is being built exclusively for the nation's wealthiest citizens. The project is in effect a gated town, one populated by colonial copies set in a tight quasi-urban formation that mimics the historic center of the Guatemalan capital. The Cayala Management Group, the developers overseeing the project, say that the new city will offer a better and safer kind of life, with none of the annoyances that accompany urban living—namely, extensive traffic jams, congestion, and poverty.
The Huffington Post has the story about the privatized "city." Here, private guards patrol the streets at all hours keeping crime outside the city limits, while high rents ensure that the town remains free of squatters, students, and lower-middle class families. Buildings are whitewashed, the streets are clean and lined with shops, and public space is in private hands.
The Paseo will be constructed in stages, with the first currently underway. Of the 110 apartments to have been completed, prices are already fetching anywhere from $260,000 to $800,000. Despite the developers' claims, rents like these are out of reach for a significant portion of the population, which is the point. The ethical implications of the project aside—and there are many, to say the least—many think that the project is doomed to failure. "We can't fool ourselves into believing that a rigid, controlled and elitist project is public space and giving something to the city when it clearly isn't the case," says Alejandro Biguria, an architect active in Guatemala City. "A city must have socioeconomic and cultural diversity."
In future phases, Cayala Management hopes to expand the town from its current 34-acre borders to an area of 870 acres. Read more about the project over at The Huffington Post.
All photos: AP/Moises Castillo via The Huffington Post