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'Me Encanta' : the Expansion of an Unorthodox Embassy in Venezuela (How I Learned to Stop Worrying and… Yanez Hernandez, Luis 2020-05

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'Me Encanta': The expansion of an unorthodox embassy in Venezuela How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Enjoy the Fries byLuis Yanez Hernandez Bachelor of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology, 2017Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree ofMASTER OF ARCHITECTURE in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIESSCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE AND LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTUREARCHITECTURE PROGRAMCOMMITTEE Blair Satterfield [Chair]Christopher Macdonald Douglas Robb Karla Sierralta We accept this report as conforming to the required standardsBlair Satterfield Christopher Macdonald©May,2020 2 3‘Me Encanta’: the expansion of an unorthodox embassy in Venezuelaii iii4 5Extrapolating 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. The “McDonald's” of the world are 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 my hometown (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.iv v6 7vi viiviiix12142230404862769294961028 9viii ixFigure 1 An unorthodox embassy in Lecheria, Venezuela [Image by Author] on page 13Figure 2 Venezuela is a country in South America     [Image by Author] on page 15Figure 3 Contrast between socialist propaganda and usage of capitalist infrastructure [Image by Author] on page 17Figure 4 Conditions of Lecheria [Image by Author] on page 19Figure 5 Front Elevation and floor plans of childhood McDonald's [Image by Author] on page 21Figure 6 Photograph of the iconic McDonald's post [Image from] on page 23Figure 7 McDonald's as a constructed artifact [Image by Author] on page 25Figure 8 Soft security measurements  [Image by Author] on page 27Figure 9 "It is a place, not a location" [Image by Author] on page 31Figure 10 McDonald's has constructed a 'new global consciousness' [Image from] on page 33Figure 11 A space for the generic activities [Image from “Log 45.” Accessed December 8, 2019.]. is not engaging. It is the definition of a non-place, forever in transit. What makes a bus more public than a fast-food space? It is in-deed owned by a probably evil corporation, as well. When will the bus become the expe-rience of the space and not an efficient way to get to a place? When will the bus take on the experience economy? Maybe if they lose their monopoly on the system? on page 35Figure 12 Bending McDonald's  architecture to become a playscape of services [Image by Author] on page 37Figure 13 A fast food place in a contested landscape on page 41Figure 14 Catalogue of infrastructural elements on page 41Figure 15 Limits of McDonald's [Image by Author] on page 41Figure 16 Three proposal for three sites in Lecheria, Venezuela [Image by Author] on page 43Figure 17 The proliferation of the Banal [Image by Author] on page 45Figure 18 Three  proposals take a place in the social politics of Venezuela [Image by Author] on page 47Figure 19 Site and context [Image by Author] on page 51Figure 20 The park, the fence and the castle [Image by Author] on page 53Figure 21 The Gate [Image by Author] on page 55Figure 22 Floor Plan [Image by Author] on page 57Figure 23 Third and Fourth tower [Image by Author] on page 59Figure 24 The garden [Image by Author] on page 61Figure 25 80  meters of darkness, lines and cars [Image by Author] on page 65Figure 26 The light post [Image by Author] on page 67Figure 27 Floor plan [Image by Author] on page 69Figure 28 Entry view [Image by Author] on page 71Figure 29 Three edges to get to the amphitheater [Image by Author] on page 73Figure 30 The amphitheater [Image by Author] on page 75Figure 31 Site and context [Image by Author] on page 79Figure 32 Floor plan [Image by Author] on page 81Figure 33 The beach [Image by Author] on page 83Figure 34 The dessert bar [Image by Author] on page 85Figure 34 The dessert bar [Image by Author] on page 85Figure 35 The 'M' bridge [Image by Author] on page 87Figure 36 The International Port [Image by Author] on page 89Figure 37 Three proposal, three buildings, one corporation [Image by Author] on page 91Figure 38 My childhood McDonald's [Image by Author] on page 93Figure 39 Fast-food's timeline [Image by Author] on page 10310 11To my family, Ketty Hernandez,  aka my mother Americo Yanez,  aka my father Karla Yanez,  aka my sister Ana Perez,  aka, my grandmotherTo my friends, Anna Goodman,  aka the american mother Carla Gruber, aka the canadian GinaEmily Kazanowski,  aka the victorian plastic queen Hussam Zbeeb,  aka the lebanese spyKevin Parsons,  aka the canadian writerLaurence Crouzet,  aka the quebecer machineMarya Kanakis,  aka the greek readerMeriem Sakrouhi,  aka the moroccan princess Nick Fernando,  aka, the canadian guyThomas Foster,  aka the british explorer Valia Puentes,  aka the mexican psychicYetka Tehrani,  aka the persian searcherZeke Kan,  aka the malaysian bachelorTo my committee, Blair Satterfield, aka the american mentorChristopher Macdonald,  aka the canadian mentorDouglas Robb,  aka the canadian mentorKarla Sierralta,  aka the venezuelan mentorx xi12 13 When I was a child, the militarization of public space moved ordinary life to private spaces, the architecture of the public was gated, erased, forbidden, and under the control of criminal activity. In 2008, amid a socialist revolution in Venezuela, a new McDonald’s opened in Lecheria, my hometown. The new fast-food chain performed as a space that we did not have before because it responded to another set of standards, mostly self-implemented in the culture of McDonald’s establishments. It was different. It created a void in the city landscape. It was one of the first generic spaces, due to its lack of local, national, or regional symbolism. It worked as an extraterritorial space, an embassy that was beyond the local contextual rules of the Venezuelan socio-political system.  I was fifteen years old at the time, and I remember my friends and family kept talking about it. While this phenomenon was not merely about the construction of a fast-food chain, it represented modern ideals arriving in a third world country. When it first opened, McDonald’s became a symbol of economic redevelopment. Locals lined up for hours to get their first taste of an iconic ‘Big Mac’. I remember people taking pictures and posting them online to broadcast their excitement. Once my sister jokingly said that “If you want to be popular, you have to go to McDonald’s in the peak hour, and you will meet everyone that is considered someone.” It became the equivalent of the public square.    As we lacked other public spaces due to security issues and political turmoils, my friends, family, and I would use it as a gathering space and tourist attraction, as we all considered it safe. Even though there is a need to consume to stay, the fast-food chain catalyzed my teenage activities. The success of the fast-food corporation was in part due to its architecture that merged Venezuelans local symbolism and construction methods to standard generic corporate values. In some ways, it forgot the social classist Venezuelan structure because it brought its own protocols, and created a new territory to develop contemporary social tendencies. These chains possess a sense of nothingness that allows their existence to be generic and universal. When users question their relationship with governments and corporations and they ultimately choose to trust one over the other. A government should seek the prosperity of the nation, but some governments do not work for this purpose. Many of them are being corrupted by their private interests. In Venezuelan society, the government has not been a reliable or trusted institution. According to the 2019 census, over 70% of Venezuelans do not believe their own government (Pew Research Center, 2019). In a community that already loses faith in its democratic institutions, Venezuelans are looking for anchor points that can arrange the city fabric. As the resemblance between nation-states and corporations become more similar, the McDonald’s branch can be considered a sort of embassy. When you create a fast-food chain, a capitalistic corporation, in socialist Venezuela, you are not only empowering the creation of the generic, but you are also fueling political power. Due to its apolitical, generic, universality tendencies, it becomes political. I am not calling it a democratic space because a fast-food chain possesses heavily implicit regulations that define behaviors and allows a particular set of possible decisions. If its architecture can, however, allow a space of expression that also generates profit to the corporation, it can generate new social tendencies. To create a generic and universal space does not imply the creation of democracy. I am exploring the public space that is needed in Venezuela, but it does not necessarily imply a community space.  The project uses the fast-food corporation as a vessel, but the characteristics described can also be found in other typologies: movie theaters, casinos, retail stores. These spaces, as extraterritorial spaces, afford the possibilities to create new social-political tendencies in the urban landscape.What happened when an innocuous fast food joint opened in Lecheria, VenezuelaLet’s meet there - We eat, and we go back to my place. Hopefully it will not be too busyFigure 1 An unorthodox embassy in Lecheria, Venezuela [Image by Author]14 15I.  Historically, South America has been marked from a past with extreme violence, insecurity, and instability. Venezuela, in the northern hemisphere, is surrounded by the Caribbean sea, Colombia, and Brazil (Figure 2). From the Spanish colonization in 1502, rebellions, military governments, and oppression had marked the Venezuelan collective memory. Since the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gomez in 1935, Venezuela entered a process of democratic governments, that ended up with riots, martial law, and a general strike, with hundreds killed in the street. The sequences of events allow the soon-to-be president, not one but the execution of two coup d’etat, which put Hugo Chavez in prison for two years, and then he was pardoned in 19921.  The rise of Hugo Chavez in 1998 was amid impeachments from the previous government of Perez. The new government created the so-called ‘Bolivarian Revolution,’ which brings along a new constitution, with new socialist, populist economic and social policies funded by the high-oil prices, following a deep hatred of globalization and foreign governments. By 2001, Chavez started using ‘enabling acts’ to distribute land and wealth; the opposition was scared that he was trying to monopolize economic and political power. By 2002, there was an attempt of coup d’etat, which failed, and Chavez came back to the government later in the  year. With more power than ever, Chavez signed a new degree to eliminate Venezuela’s most significant large estates and benefit the rural poor, and new regulations for media and started suppressing opposition public figures. By the end of 2005, Chavez’s supported to take the power of the Venezuelan assembly and started disabling institutions in the name of the Venezuelan revolution. By 2006, Chavez won the third installment for the presidency with 63% of the vote. By 2007, Chavez decided to nationalize all energy and telecommunications companies, and he also started attacking private businesses. Whenever a company, such as Exxon Mobil, decided not to turn in the company, he would expropriate them with military power. At the end of the decade, Chavez had accumulated immense power in the Venezuelan government and decided to eliminate the number of restrictions allowed to run for the presidency.   In 2010, Chavez devalued the currency to boost revenue from oil exports after the economy shrank by 5.8% in 2009. The control of Chavez’s government increased with firm price controls and a closed market. Chavez threatened every private industry with military actions if they do not comply with new price regulations. In 2012, amid the beginning of an international economic crisis, Chavez won a fourth term in office. After suffering from cancer and being treated in Cuba, Hugo Chavez died in 20132. The Venezuelan crisis has been in existence from late 2009 until the present day. It is tough to understand the complexity of the situation; however, entities such as The United Nations alongside the Human Rights Watch published a report in 2019 that explained the humanitarian crisis happening in Venezuela2:  -There is a refugee crisis, where about 3 million people have left Venezuela, out of 32 million people.  -The Venezuelan government has jailed many political opponents, around 230 political prisoners. It has weakened freedom of speech in the country.  -Venezuelan armed pro-government paramilitary forces, the so-called ‘colectivos,’ attacked protesters during the riots in 2017, 2018, 2019.  -Venezuelans are facing severe shortages of medicine, food, alongside electricity, gas, and potable water.  -After Hugo Chavez took the power of the judicial system, the institution has been broken, and it no longer works independently from the government.  -After the government lost the assembly elections in 2017, President Nicolas Maduro decided to create a second assembly, called the Constituent Assembly, with only government supporters, and by default erasing the ‘real’ assembly. Dualities on the Venezuelan socio-political systemFigure 2 Venezuela is a country in South America     [Image by Author]16 17 -Throughout the years, the government has tried to erase and eradicate any dissident media outlets by saying that they are ‘against the nation’s interest.’  -The government discriminates against anyone who doesn’t support them by firing from public-funded jobs, and by forbidden them to collect the Clap box, a ‘government program that distributes food, basic items at government capped prices.’ In the present, the country is facing an even stronger division among Venezuelans. On the one hand, the government’s supporters are blaming other countries, specifically the United States, as they’ve created an ‘economic war’ in Venezuela (Figure3).  On the other hand, the opposition’s supporters blamed the government because of their improper economy management, and an over-expenditure in socialist causes. The division is very clear in the geographical context of the country: most of the large urban spaces support, located in the north side of the country supports the opposition. Some media has argued that the root of Venezuela’s problems is based on its history of racism: ‘the white Europeans versus the dark Indigenous’3,tactics that were created by Hugo Chavez to gather political power in 1999. Chavez was the first president that differentiated Venezuelans between races. However, some people disagreed with these statements. It is more common to see Venezuela’s biggest problem as a socio-economic inequality situation, rather than a racism problem. The socio-economic inequality of Venezuela was one of the main reforms for Chavez’s socialism, which increased education, food programs, and housing programs. Most of Chavez’s achievement has been erased after the implosion of its socialist program in 2015. From 1999 to the present day, the polarization of Venezuela has been brewing, and a divided country can never found its peace. As convincingly argued by sociologist David Smilde, Chavista supporters tended to embrace any government initiative, regardless of the reform model proposed, while the opposition rejected any reform effort out of principle4.  The division has outgrown the politics of public space, and shaping the division between ‘reds’, traditionally symbolic of the Chavism, and ‘blues’, referring to the Opposition. II.  The site analyzed in this thesis is based on Anzoategui, a coastal state with a lot of industries and a prominent seaport. The metropolitan area is called The Great Barcelona. It entails the combinations of four neighborhood cities: Barcelona, Lecheria, Puerto La Cruz, and Guanta. Even though Gran Barcelona has around 800.000 people, it shall not be considered a city due to its lack of infrastructure. The city lacks the metropolitan aspect that is common in places like Caracas. The city has two main roads with two car lanes each. The most common building typology is small residential houses and mid-rise residential structures. The town has two  shopping malls, with a movie theater each. The densities changes between each neighboring city, as they are highly related to the income of that area. Lecheria, being the wealthiest part of the town, has the largest square foot area per citizen, while Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz hold about 80% of the population (Figure 4). The town, specially Lecheria, has an active water feature, commonly known as Canals. The Canals provide direct access to Lecheria homes to the Caribbean sea, where the richer Venezuelans have yachts showcasing their wealth. Beaches inland surround the rest of the city. Barcelona and Puerto La Cruz are marked by a denser residential space packed all together in the downtown areas. These edges of these three cities are continuously blurring themselves, and some people argue it is just one town. The junction point happens in the biggest shopping mall in the area, Plaza Mayor. The shopping mall has a big parking lot, and it has a free-standing McDonald’s, where early ideas of this thesis took place.  The facade of McDonald’s employs different motifs and techniques than its American counterpart (Figure 5). It has a domestic aspect through the Figure 3 Contrast between socialist propaganda and usage of capitalist infrastructure [Image by Author]18 19material chosen and a small motif from Venezuelan symbolism: the use of terracotta and stucco with a light yellow paint is relatively frequent in the country. The facade combines very seemingly the corporation motifs, the big sign of McDonald’s, and the Venezuelans materials. It is connected to the shopping mall through a large parking lot and a drive-thru to the main road. The fast-food chain is a two-stories store, with a large playground on the second floor. It has open patios, and terraces, alongside with seating in the first and second floor. Interestingly, it does not have the ‘Yellow M in a post,’ which is fairly common in American highways, but it has a McDonald’s flag. McDonald’s is positioned in a high transit area; therefore, it is heavily used at all times during the day, even more, when it started 24 hours in 2012. Even though a lot of Venezuelans commerces have closed, McDonald’s has endured the general crisis. It made decisions that perhaps go against corporate values, like changing their world-famous fries to yucca fries since yucca’s fries material is easier to find and cheaper to sell as food prices continue to rise. This project is using the site as a starting point to explore the speculations of the embassy. The site is providing a framework, but in no way, The speculation is departing from reality, and it involves the understanding of the socio-political economics of Venezuela.III. The contingencies start happening during the process of overlaying of the American dream in a socialist Venezuela. The truth is that the Venezuelan society has a fever with having the American dream; perhaps, it is a consequence of the media we consume. There is an apparent fanaticism towards the American consumerist culture, even though we are living and continuously voting in favor of a socialist government. Venezuelan has a tremendous and dominant culture; however, we still have and use sayings such as ‘Mejorar la Raza,’ which means ‘Improving your race.’ The phrase acknowledges when a dark-skinned person marries a white person (preferably American or European), the dark-skinned person is improving their social and legal status. Mejorar la Raza is a phrase that supports white-washing, and it is commonly used in the Venezuelan dialect. The Venezuelans are very proud and very nationalist culture, but there is also an underlying love of the American culture, ‘Los gringos.’ These two ways of thinking are in constant overlap and conflict with each other. For example, there are several anti-american signs alongside the usage of corporations, that symbolics the so-hated American consumerism. The duality of locality vs. globalization is what, in some ways, is driving this thesis: The epitome of capitalist culture, encompassed in a McDonald’s, sitting on a very extremist socialist country, Venezuela.  The frictions of being raised in a culture that was continually fighting itself started to create rules that could only be possible in Venezuela. For example, during the rise of the Chavismo, my family decided that we could not wear anything red, because it meant that you were supporting the government. As part of the opposition, my family did not want my friends and family thinking that I was supporting the government in any way possible. However, now that I am reflecting on it, the idea that ‘red’ was symbolizing the Chavismo, and therefore I could not wear it anymore seems pretty illogical. It took us a couple of years to wear red again, but even now, we do very sparingly. This small story exemplifies how many ways we have changed our behaviors to deal with a very harsh socio-political environment. The political speech has been so intense that it breached the collective sense of being Venezuela. The division has grown since I was a child, and now we are defining people as ‘enchufado’, if you are ever working for a public institution. As the situation worsened, people started to cut ties among families and friends that do not support their political views. As the main structures of the public plazas get militarized, and under the siege of insecurity, the Venezuelan population has resorted to creating a public space within the private spaces; thus Figure 4 Conditions of Lecheria [Image by Author]20 21enabling and giving importance to ideas of branding and marketing: the symbolic space. It is not only reinforcing the fear of going outside, but it is also reinforcing the segregation among Venezuelans.  The use of private space did not only increased the segregation among Venezuelans, but it is also emphasized the inequality gap between the two social groups. The private space imposed symbols of exclusion and inclusion6: these symbols worked as both passive and active agents in the classification of people. From price range, protocol rules, and location, these private-public spaces were used to contain different political speeches from each other. However, not all private-public spaces were attacked by these ideas of segregation, such as fast-food chains and movie theaters. These two types of corporations are based on having the most significant reach among the general population and do not entail with secluding any kind of people. Their only goal is to set themselves in the Venezuelan collective consciousness and generate profit. Even though, in a north-American context, these corporation has a negative connotation as they are capitalistic machines that promotes cultural homogenization. The private space of a corporation allows a more even terrain where social life can take place, as it possesses less socio-economic idiosyncrasies  than a traditional private space owned by a Venezuelan citizen. The thesis is searching in the creation of the generic space in a landscape that is contingent to itself: it is dueling between their cultural heritage and their wanting to enter the global world. Figure 5 Front Elevation and floor plans of childhood McDonald's [Image by Author]1 “Venezuela Profile - Timeline” BBC News, February 25, 2019, sec. Latin America & Caribbean, “World Report 2019: Rights Trends in Venezuela” Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2018, Hazel Marsh, “Venezuela’s Long History of Racism Is Coming Back to Haunt It” The Conversation, accessed December 11, 2019, “Inequality Persists in Chavista Venezuela” openDemocracy, accessed December 11, 2019, “Inequality Persists in Chavista Venezuela.”6 Tobias Armborst et al., The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion (New York: Actar Publishers, 2017).Endnotes22 23I.  The fast-food chain has been part of the formation of the public realm at first as a piece of capitalistic machinery. Still, in the following years, it has transformed itself with idealistic marketing strategies. The origins of the fast-food empire come from a series of shortcomings: not only did food and service suffered degrees of inefficiency and inconsistency, but also customers faced long wait times, and awkward spaces for eating (refer to Appendix B). In 1948, McDonald’s started to apply a consistent quality to all their meals, which was appealing to families and bigger groups, because the fast-food chain could accommodate large groups while also being very affordable2. In McDonaldized systems, quantity has become equivalent to quality; much something, or the quick delivery of it, means it must be good2. As McDonaldized systems prevail by using their images to create a symbol of something else: they were successful in becoming symbols of modernity and globalization. Regardless of where one might be, these systems are the same and provide a, perhaps false, sense of comfort (Figure 6). They have become leaders in processes that we might consider normal things today, such as delivering efficiency, consistency, and predictability. The user records and remembers the displacement of these spaces through the reiteration of information. The repetitiveness of the fast-food places makes them being present, and everywhere yet they belong in nowhere. Therefore, the fast-food spaces are indeed places of the global. It embeds meaning through images and pictograms. The system of McDonald’s, as a global enterprise, has embedded itself in a variety of fields from academic, medical, politics, that started to use a standardized process to create consistency within its branches3. By default, these institutions are de-contextualizing themselves, and their processes could be applied everywhere. The infrastructural systems that are established by McDonald’s can be seen in many aspects of our society, as we are looking for more efficient, predictable, and reliable systems that enhance our comfort. McDonald’s has led, alongside other corporations, to a new global consciousness.  The repetition of the standardized process creates a ubiquitous or generic space, where the availability of goods and services depends far less than geographic location and connectivity within cities6. In a rapidly changing and unfamiliar world, the comparatively stable and familiar environment within the McDonaldized system offers the generic. The spaces offered by McDonald’s are fully a-geographic and de-particularized. The de-particularization makes them spaces for nothing, which means that they are so non-distinct that they fail to relate to any contextual specifics. The combination of recycled symbols and architectural language has called the idea of nothingness in the architectural space.  The end of the public space in the late 20th century has engaged in the creation of a semi-public space through its privatization, or as Michael Sorkin will criticize in ‘Variations on a Theme Park,’ the city became the theme park 7. For example, the ‘Look for their Golden Arches’4 slogan, one of their most famous slogans from 1961, references the symbol of the M flying in the sky and generating an excitement reaction. It was the start of Googie architecture, a tendency in architectural design that uses pastel colors, synthetic materials, stainless steel to evoke a sense of luxury 5, which started the production of the image-building. The buildings visually rely on images drawn from history, from an appropriated past that substitutes a possible examined present8. A new city will have a McDonald’s as a slightly different but still similar version of the same McDonald’s in the next block. Even though McDonald’s is entirely based on homogenization and standardization ideals, McDonald’s is developing new forms of local connection through the idea of individual dishes and special spatial arrangements. After the 2000s, McDonald’s has shifted to an individualization trend of their franchises through the introduction of local food, specific materials, and details. Glocalization is allowing McDonald’s to be specific within the framework of the standard. The diffusion What is the relationship between publics and the everyday?Figure 6 Photograph of the iconic McDonald's post [Image from]24 25eradicates differences between cultures in the global consciousness. Nevertheless, such processes provide a sense of dehumanization, where speed and profit are the most important things rather than human interaction. The fast-food industry is both putting the worker in a position that lacks professional fulfillment, and making the consumer develop eating habits rushing through meals with little gratification like the one derived from the diner experience or from the food itself 9. However, we can argue that their expand in size and processes are just following the rush of the 24/7 society. The fast-food industry also provide a space where the general citizen can only do a specific activities. Their spaces are placed in an incredible and diverse part of the earth, which makes it institutions across cities. The fast-food industry provides support to education, job opportunities, and social causes. We need also to understand that in the 21st century, the implementation of a McDonaldized system has thrived and continuously expanded. I honestly can not imagine the reversing the new search for comfort because I can not envision the world being less reliable, efficient, or predictable.  Communities everywhere are facing sort-of apocalyptic problems, such as economic crisis, political referendums, fascism rising, identity crisis, on a day-to-day basis. Every day, there is a new fight against an ‘other’. ‘The reality of surviving it is not about building bunkers; it is about building resilience – everywhere and in all kinds of ways’10. McDonald’s could act as a shell that provides a space for resilience because the systems they deploy gives a sense of reliability and predictability to its users. Regardless of what is happening within the local or global context, the fast-food chain will work and operate the same exact way as any other McDonald’s. The change in McDonald’s is way more gradual than most political movements, (as you can see in Appendix B). The spaces of McDonald’s could emphasize more its generic tendencies and adjust to allow for more public space to the local community. It could mean the creation of a space that is indeed hidden from politics and social norms, but open to invite the global citizens: a void within the system. It could, potentially, created a discharge point on a contested landscape. II.  To understand the nuances of public space, we need to start looking for the infra-ordinary11, a term coined by philosopher Georges Perec. We are continually moving through a difference levels of public spaces, even within a domestic place. The issue comes up when we are trying to define the quality of public space. The infra-ordinaries allows to undercover the self-regulating system that hides behind the ordinary. Perec asks, on his book Species to Space, to furiously ‘Question your teaspoons’12. When we are using the thematic of public space, we are used to understanding a restaurant, a park, a bus, a library as public space but, we are not continuously interrogating them. The interrogation should define the limit of the public space through ideas of ownership (Figure 7). The relationship between symbols (in media) and ownership deforms the regulation of programmatic space. The ordinary does not define how we behave, but it is the infra-ordinary that defines our perception of the space (refer to Appendix A).  The public quality of different McDonald’s can offer an insight into the versatility of these spaces. For example, if we compare the McDonald’s in Chicago and a McDonald’s in the South of France, we could start drawing the differences. The central downtown McDonald’s in Chicago was designed as a signature store by Ross Barney Architects in 2016.  It is located in the middle of the city, and it resemblances a lot of motifs of Chicago’s architecture: the large glass panels, the flat roof, the monolith columns. The building is following a trend of a copy-paste culture in Chicago’s architecture field. It has strong similarities to other famous buildings, such as Crown Hall by Mies Van Der Rohe. This fast-food chain was designed as a world stage, with high ceilings, large pieces of glass. It has accents of nature with green walls, and a floating Figure 7 McDonald's as a constructed artifact [Image by Author]26 27courtyard in the middle of the building. It performs as a tourist attracting taking up a whole city block, and looking like a monumental project.  In the Paris side, it is a small McDonald’s in a low-income community in the south of France. The McDonald’s became famous when its employees were fighting the owner to keep it open. For them, it did not only meant a fast-food chain, but a source of income and a method to keep the young people out of drugs and keep them employed13. McDonald’s was seen in this instance as a social institution. The employees of the McDonald’s in Marseilles were trying to get out of poverty and the situation of the landscape through an branded space.  Even though both McDonald’s have a similar logo, font, menus, the way that it impacts the city is completely different. In one end, you have the big flashy architectural design that is made to attract customers in a busy city, and on the other hand, you have a more humble version of McDonald’s that is reaching a faraway population. Apart from its perception as a capitalist enterprise, some McDonald’s establishments have moved past this and become places for the people: either for tourists who want to get something fast and comfortable to eat or as a social justice space that can create some stability in a contested landscape. The icons and motifs of McDonald’s are generic enough that it allows this diversity in its stores. The transfusion of their message has been so vast, that we are experiencing fluctuations on how people are reacting to the fast-food chain.  The irony relies on the perception of the fast food chain through its concept: is it a capitalistic monstrous machine? is it a social justice space? is it both?III. In Venezuela, a country devastated by its insecurity and economic crisis, it became a defense of luxury that has given birth to an arsenal of security systems and an obsession with policing of social boundaries through architecture14. The architecture of Venezuela follows polarizing techniques of explicit forms of boundaries such as gates, security cameras, fences, and surveillance cameras, and the use of implicit forms boundaries such as greenery, street lights, symbolic artifacts15. The universal consequence of the crusade to secure this city is the destruction of any genuinely democratic urban space. Due to the lack of public space, several areas of the population have marked their spaces through social hierarchies, and classicism, racist systems. For example, there is a street light that divides Lecheria, and the rest of the city. The street light was a ‘modern’ one because it showed the seconds before it changed again. This slight differentiation permitted the distinction between developed and underdeveloped areas. Ironically, in the middle of these two areas, and align with the street light, there was a shopping mall and a free-standing McDonald’s. They serve as a bridge between the three areas.  The highly-contested spaces in Venezuela are either representing genetic historicity or generic modernity16. The public spaces in Venezuela are juxtaposing government propaganda with the placement of ‘global’ stores, another ironies in the urban landscape.  The generic historical or global is in the constant fight alongside the politics and symbolic meaning they provide: one it is for the people, and the other is for the bourgeois. Even though these spaces are highly tied to the local politics of the place, a space that follows a McDonaldized system, falls in a different category because it does not embody any sort of politics. It is enough that becomes just a symbol of nothing, which is ‘largely devoid of distinctive content, is far less likely to bother or offend those in other cultures.’17 The placement of McDonald’s in Venezuela is a symbol of modernization and a connection to the global scope, which is largely denied by government officials.  The public space in Venezuela is shifting between private spaces as most of the other public spaces are militarized. Under the police gaze, free speech and public space cannot exist simultaneously18. The public space moved to the Figure 8 Soft security measurements  [Image by Author]Hidden wall The Moat The 'garden'Ronald McDoandl's statue The secret slide The bunker28 29privatized space, where through symbols of inclusion and exclusion, the government can not hear. This makes the polarization of the community even stronger, as the space for the bourgeois is not the same as the spaces for the rest of the population. McDonald’s, as a symbol of development and modernization, helps to merge the two because they both see McDonald’s like a neutral space. It blurs the edges, and helps to create a void of local politics, and still creates a place of safety (Figure 8). McDonald's could start detailing its buildings with soft security measures to allow a new type of space to exist in Venezuela. Being safe in Venezuela is an essential quality in the development of public space. Venezuela has one of the highest death rates in the world19. The high level of surveillance and the high crime is forcing the public space to be hidden from the government, and be in the  semi-privatized semi-public sphere. 1 George Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society, 20th anniversary ed., 7th ed (Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2013).2 Langdon, Orange Roofs, Golden Arches.3 Folke T. Kihlstedt, review of Review of Googie, Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, ; Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants, by Alan Hess and Philip Langdon, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 48, no. 2 (1989): 204–5, Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society.5 Michael Sorkin, ed., Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space, 1st ed (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992).6 Sorkin.7 Sorkin.8 Sorkin.9 Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society.10 “Apocalypse,” accessed December 6, 2019, Georges Perec and John Sturrock, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces, New ed., Penguin Classics (London, England ; New York: Penguin Books, 2008).12 Perec and Sturrock.13 “Save The .... McDonald’s? One Franchise In France Has Become A Social Justice Cause,”, accessed December 8, 2019, Sorkin, Variations on a Theme Park.15 Sorkin.16 Sorkin.17 Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society.18 Sorkin, Variations on a Theme Park.19 “Venezuela Death Rate 1950-2019,” accessed December 7, 2019, 31I. From the 1950s, the images of the fast-food chain created an aesthetics through ‘‘an architectural style epitomized by arbitrary, offbeat shape’s’1, which we coined as Googie architecture. The branding techniques defined the perception of space to attract as many customers as possible.  The image of McDonald’s has been carefully constructed as a place for the people. Through imagery, it has become a symbol of a haven, which no longer targets a specific population. This new openness has turned into a worldwide symbol of safety and security. For example, in China, McDonald’s coined the ‘‘mcRefugees,’’ which is a shelter for homeless people who are allowed to stay within the establishment after purchasing an item(that goes as low as $1)2. By accepting the corporation rules, the homeless population of China has found a place to stay during the hot summer or cold winter, which is not being provided by such a government. This example accentuates remarks made by Charles Moore in the 1960s, that the citizens of any nations are required to pay public life3.  The fast-food industries have cemented their image in our global consciousness (Figure 9). If you imagined a city, could you imagine it without a fast-food restaurant? They are part of our perception of urban life, and they possess immense power and reach in the city fabric. As the fast-food chain has expanded incredibly, it makes to work within the system. The production of space in the 21st century defined itself through the creation of images and branding. It has produced an opportunity for global amalgamation of cultures and economies.3 The homogenization of ideas serves to create a generic public sphere, due to their natural transfusion of meanings along regions. McDonald’s is successful because it is so easy to relate to, and its power to reach a vast majority of the land.  When the user is looking at McDonald’s, it is not merely looking at a single unit, but the icon of the overall system are apparent. The architecture of these spaces calibrated the image to become the space.4 The space relied on the meaning of the pictures, and their juxtaposition to the program.  In several of these spaces, where context becomes not as an essential factor, the images transformed into material simulacra in which dichotomies between building and sign, decoration and architecture, desire and reality have ceased to exist.5 To reach the generic space, we need to de-contextualize the site with advertisements. The privatization of the public space in the late 20th century has allowed this possibility of creating a vacuum in the city fabric. Through branding, as an international force, we can enter the global consciousness.6 If you compare a McDonald’s in Venezuela, and a McDonald’s in Morocco, we can establish the homogenization of the spaces (Figure 10), which makes a unique place to create a generic space. We also need to understand that these characteristics are not only applicable for a fast-food chain, but it embeds in several layers of society: from medical fields, universities, museums to sports empires7. However, we can argue that the standardization only happens on the image, but not in the architecture itself. Regardless of the context, these institutions are trying to simplify the process to help their corporate branding. As the world becomes more and more of the same, we need to ask ourselves if all places and problems are similar (as we might suspect from our endlessly repetitive new cities, then the whole act of making something unique is spurious and futile.8 The ironies within the dualities can offer an opportunity to generate the void.  In many ways, I agree with the Junkspace theory; mostly when Rem Koolhaas establishes that there is no form, just proliferation.9 However, I understand this proliferation of spaces not as harmful as Koolhaas does. The opportunities of the sameness, or the bland, allow us to intervene and expand the generic. The generic space avoids local politics and acknowledges entering the nothingness. The nothingness is the vacuum:  the allusion of space hidden from the government but open to the citizens.  The branding of the space is necessary as a material exploration to detach itself from the context. As an What is the relationship between publics and the everyday?Figure 9 "It is a place, not a location" [Image by Author]32 33example, the Burger King of my childhood, use a combination of local materials, and international marketings images to produce the place that will work as a center of the city. The combination of the two allows the glocalization of the space somewhere else. The detachment is critical to protect and enhance the bland.  The brand mediates the different owners, as the authoritarian figure in the creation of public space. ‘In the original baroque, the primary patrons were prince and church; in the new version, they include giant corporations, ambitious governments, sports empires, and cultural institutions like art museums’10. As the creation of public space needs authority, space has to become autonomous to be generic. Fast-food restaurants rely on this conceptual idea to attract more customers and provide a sense of consistency and predictability. To achieve a sense of generics, it needs to de-contextualized its power from the local context and the global market, attaching itself somewhere else: the image space. While keeping its images as approachable and open, it needs to be self-referential. By referencing itself, it alluding a sense of placelessness, and the creation of the other place. However, we need to argue that autonomy is always ‘‘semi.’’11 The fine line between the authorship and usage is where the generic lies. The corporation owns it, but it is used as a vessel for public practice by the citizens. The architecture mixes with the life-world, and it is this irreducible condition that sets apparent limits on the autonomy of the field. The dichotomy between the two uses is converged when branding applies their meaning to space: symbolic space. The surface becomes the mediator between meaning and symbol. From one side, we can consider it as a billboard, but in the fast-food chain, we can see it as a three-dimensional space.12 It intensifies the experience and thickening the recording of the experience. The surface has a non-referential quality that guides the user through the nothingness. The concepts of the nothing based itself in a postmodern society, where the truth is no longer apparent or even wanted; therefore, we have the opportunity to twist versions of the absolute reality through the images that we produce. The fast-food chain should no longer see what you get - it has to engage in the experience economy to de-particularized itself. It needs to deceive about the realities of our current environment.  In my many ways, the brand has become a symbol of contemporary consumer values associated with the information age: differentiation, customization, communication, and perception. The personalization of the experience is to attract the population. It is no longer about the building shape but about the experience economy of the user. The fast-food chain has to become an event of nothingness that persuades the user to forget about the hidden societal structures. The detailing of branding is a fine line between the standard and the generic. It involves not only marketing strategies but also precise architectural detailing. The commercial space can not break its fictional detailing. Everything on the surface should detail the hacking of the standard, that forms the generic. The hacking of nothing, the detailing of the surface, allows creating the experience of the generic. The bland expands, and the featureless exaggerates to achieve the aspect of the public realm that we need in our urban cities.13 The articulation of architecture has become not only about making but also about creating meaning from it — not only from the architect’s perspective but the symbol in the larger urban fabric. Examined in a socio-economic context, architecture today no longer constitutes merely a (formal) part of our marketing environment, it has become the essence of it (of the experience economy). The corporation has so much capital accumulated to the point where it becomes an image. II.     “When are we ever doing nothing? If we are not working, we are checking our devices or burning calories at the gym or shopping. So, doing nothing was a discovery.” 14                            -Elizabeth DillerFigure 10 McDonald's has constructed a 'new global consciousness' [Image from]Seoul, South KoreaCasablanca, MoroccoCaracas, Venezuela34 35    The discovery of the vacuum is what Diller is emphasizing on her dialogue with Cynthia Davidson for Log 47. The realities of the experience economy can be seen when you study the High-Line by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The architects argue that the main point about the high-line was not the aesthetics but the experience of nothing (Figure 11). Everyone was surprised about the success of the High-line because the park prohibits most of the ordinary park activities: you can not run, you cannot bring your dog, and you cannot eat.15 She was arguing that walking and sitting are novel for contemporary urbanites. The act of doing nothing is considered  edgy and new. I would think the high-line being in the spectrum of the generic. The design of the High-Line is separating itself from the city by placing it as a backdrop. The park goes along the city, but the urban landscape only works as an image. Throughout the park, the placement of frames makes this experience very clear. By restricting the number of activities allowed in the space, the user is entering a new space of nothingness. The new space offers users other activities that they are not used to do, such as sitting and walking.     The act of nothing became a brand tool for the High-Line. The architects say they were expecting 400000 visitors, but more than 8 million came last year alone16. It shows how the vacuum is necessary for a 24/7 society. The branding of the High-line makes be a space that deals with a new idea of the generic park. The park is not trying to create a good or bad opinion of the context, nor itself, but it is trying to give a moment for the universal space. With the many rules that this space posses, it cannot be considered a democratic space, but it is as a global soft public space. By soft, I do not mean that it is a ‘‘true’’ public park, but that an organization, a non-profit called Friends of the High-line, oversees the activities in the space, and it is contingent through its regulation. The organization has still the power to exclude politics from the safe space of the High-line. The organization puts itself out of the political sphere by raising funds through donations17. They do not get any funds from the city of New York City. It is reaching closer to the apolitical space. Their only goal is to provide amenities and cultural programs to the citizens of New York.III.  The issue will come up in how the user can trust a corporation rather than a government. A government should seek the prosperity of the nation, but some government does not work for this purpose. In Venezuela society, the government is not a reliable or trusted institution. According to the last census, over 70% of Venezuelans do not believe their own government18. In a community that already loses faith in its democratic institutions, Venezuelans are looking in anchor points that can arrange the city fabric. The American corporation has created a fan base in Latin American culture through the diffusion of television, internet, and mainstream pop culture. “The simple truth is that the United States is the primary influence on tastes and preferences for consumer and industrial products.”19 Latin American people believe that the closer they get to the Americanization, they might be living a better life. However, even when they are spreading their anti-imperialist speech, they are still wearing a Nike t-shirt and going to McDonald’s after the protest. The corporation fan base goes beyond their political view because we still see as comfort. The fast-food chain could be an international institution that can potentially be a vessel for the public space to happen. The fan base keeps growing when the corporation engages the processes of globalization and homogenization. The image of security, structured, and predictability orients the user in a chaotic landscape. These images of branding are essential to categorize these spaces as a haven and create differentiation in such a defined political landscape. This thesis is using the detailing to disconnect the generic for the creation of an apolitical anchor. The generic will create the experience of the non-distinctive in the architectural space. In some ways, the space needs to create a new type of language: a language that blurs the boundaries of reality. For example, many fast-food chains are trying Figure 11 A space for the generic activities [Image from “Log 45.” Accessed December 8, 2019.]. 36 37to revitalize their public image in different countries across the world by making ‘‘signature’’ stores20. A signature store offers a glance of the combination of the generic: at the same time, it provides a non-referential space and an autonomous that allows for blandness. These spaces acknowledge the need for beauty and conformity as a way to enter the public realm.  These spaces not only represent the brand, but they provide the sensation of somewhere else. The design is not trying to connect to the locality of place, or not the brand itself, but to provide users with new experiences. Throughout the thesis, space is testing the ownership of the design, as it no longer seems neither part of the brand or part of the context. It is in the fine line of the in-between. (Figure 12) The fast-food chain is used as a vessel for the generic because it provides all these different opportunities for the new generics. Not only it is known as a public space to Venezuela’s population, but it is also detaching itself with a sense of ownership. The branding is both a connection to the global generic and the interface that will connect the people and space. The experience of the architecture has to be highly articulated and made with such convictions that will be related only to itself. The generic can only be made in a sea of specific articulation, which is mostly of architecture today. A single environment can only accept a unique generic. The repetition of it will make it standard, but not generic. We also need to emphasize as the global corporation have enormous power to transform local economies20, the placement of the fast-food chain, as inauthentic it might be, it represents a price for a universal space. Even though the success of this typology is inherently tied to the corporation’s success, which feeding off insecurities, we need to understand that their success is due to something failing in the social-political context. They might be providing a social service such as cheap food, predictable spaces, accessibility to wi-fi, space for the homeless.  This type of space, through its branding, does not recognize social hierarchies and political structures. Figure 12 Bending McDonald's  architecture to become a playscape of services [Image by Author] 38 39    Endnotes1 Philip Langdon, Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants (London: Joseph, 1986).2 “Hong Kong’s ‘McRefugees’ On The Rise Amid Summer Heat,”, accessed December 8, 2019, David Littlejohn and Charles W. Moore, Architect: The Life and Work of Charles W. Moore, 1st ed.-- (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984).4 Anna Klingmann, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2007).5 Klingmann.6 Klingmann.7 George Ritzer, The McDonaldization of Society, 20th anniversary ed., 7th ed (Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2013).8 Littlejohn and Moore, Architect.9 Rem Koolhaas, and Hal Foster, Junkspace with Running Room (Widworthy Barton, Devon: Notting Hill Editions, 2013).10 Koolhaas, and Foster.11 Koolhaas, and Foster.12 Klingmann, Brandscapes.13 Koolhaas and Foster, Junkspace with Running Room.14 “Log 45,” Anyone Corporation, accessed December 8, 2019, “Log 45,” Anyone Corporation16 “FAQ,” The High Line, accessed December 8, 2019, “FAQ,” The High Line18 “Venezuelans Have Little Trust in National Government, Say Economy Is in Poor Shape,” Pew Research Center (blog), accessed December 7, 2019, Thomas H. Becker, Doing Business in the New Latin America: A Guide to Cultures, Practices, and Opportunities (Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2004).20 “Fast Food Slowed Down: What’s Behind the All the Redesigns - and Is It Enough?,” ArchDaily, August 23, 2018, Klingmann, Brandscapes.40 41     It is hard to imagine living in a city with no grocery stores, no movie theaters, no restaurants, no fast food places. These spaces are inherently present in our concept of the everyday city. The banality of these spaces became transnational because they mutated between cultures and politics among nation-states. These spaces prevail as indispensable necessities to sustain urban life. Imagine New York, Caracas, Barcelona, or Mexico City without an H&M, Zara, McDonald’s, or Starbucks. While they are part of an extensive system, they are still engaging with the population at a human scale. They occupy every corner in cities as unused political tools. These spaces have created a place through its images and branding techniques, where borders are erased, and authoritarian figures of the nation-state are diminished (Figure 13). These generic corporate figures have become signifiers of customs and traditions outside of the nation-states because they have created a “new global consciousness”1. The movie theater, the McDonald’s, and the grocery store have all created a space that is above the nation-state jurisdiction. Whether you are in Morocco or you are in Venezuela, a McDonald’s is going to have the same rules. The same systematic processes exist, regardless of where they are. Whenever you engage with one of these spaces, you are involuntarily entering an extraterritorial space: a corporate embassy, if you will.   Traditionally, embassies were designed to provide open access to an array of cultural programs. ‘The embassy architecture of that era was hailed as an apt expression of (American) values, and nearly everyone associated with the foreign building program endorsed the evident relationship between visual openness and democratic ideals.’2 However, this concept of the embassy diminished as a result of the increased paranoia of the nation-states. In the current modern society, the nation-state has become a sibling to corporations, as countries are starting to employ new corporatocratic political systems. The spaces that I am talking about, the ‘generic and bland,’3 are becoming a new version of the embassy. The corporate establishments are approachable, open, and found in most cities. Not only do these spaces represent something else in the local culture, but they represent a zone of nothingness through the use of images, safety, and branding mechanisms.  In China, the homeless population is using multiple McDonald’s as shelters4. In the United States, the community uses McDonald’s as infrastructural spaces, with bathrooms,wi-fi, and phone charging spots (Figure 14). These spaces are becoming far more than just places defined for ‘food.’  This project is proposing an exploration into the corporate embassy: a space that inherently has the attributes of extraterritoriality while seeking the attraction of the local social culture of the place.     As an icon of globalization, McDonald’s was endeared to the population through the composition of the image of modernization. The project is exploring the politics of the duality between local and global forces through architectural space. The project is exploring the expansion of these currently existing typologies that we, either as architectural professionals or the general public, constantly ignore. In contested landscapes, like Venezuela, the common spaces are intrinsically and continuously used as pseudo-public spaces; our bad governmental practices, insecurity, and lack of maintenance struggles to maintain a public life. Historically, the architecture of these spaces have been considered ‘worthless,’ but as architects, we can re-purpose them in an (a)political manner. Sociologist George Ritzer, has written extensively on the topic of the McDonaldization of Society. Even though these corporate embassies are, in some regards, self-serving, they do provide a list of benefits to the local communities5. The McDonaldization of space can suspend social and political turmoil, with an override to its international rules and regulations. Embassies and McDonald’s can be explored with architectural intentions that questions ideas of thresholds and perception. The project mediates publicity, boundaries, and branding.   The project is using McDonald’s as a vessel case study because it was explicitly marketed Can the generic be amplified?I woke up. I went to a coffee shop. I got hungry. I went to get fries at the fast-food restaurant in the corner; then I carried on with my dayFigure 14Figure 13Figure 15Figure 13 A fast food place in a contested landscapeFigure 14 Catalogue of infrastructural elementsFigure 15 Limits of McDonald's [Image by Author]42 43as a ‘space for the people’6.  McDonald’s is one of the few corporations that can produce a personal image but still be everywhere. McDonald’s is trying to be a fictional ‘place’, not a location. Since its conception, it was built on ideals of reliability, consistency, and predictability, and at the same time, sells ideas of family, gathering, and food. It appeals to the largest middle. The standardization of these spaces is not necessarily architectural, as when you look at a place like Vancouver, which lack an identifiable architectural style, every McDonald’s from University of British Columbia's campus to Downtown is entirely architecturally different. The similarities occur in the projection and standardization of the image in itself, not the architecture. As the corporation is expanding to a ‘more individualistic approach’, these spaces are becoming permeable, formable, and changeable; all of which allow the architecture to manipulate corporate stereotypes4 (Figure 15). By extracting architectural language, iconic elements, and intangible qualities from McDonald’s, one can appropriate the innocuous qualities and sense of security and use it in landscapes of politically charged nations. The result of this appropriation grafts between the public and private sectors. Inside a McDonald’s, the social interactions are not determined by income or political association; they are, in fact, predetermined. People wandering inside often ask one of the following: ‘Can I have a cheeseburger? Do you have ketchup? Is there somewhere I can charge my phone? Is there a bathroom here? Can I have a lid?’ These circumstances and their override of unique social encounters can only be presented in a space that is highly controlled. When the locality is hinted at, a new set of social arrays can set in place. These activities can only occur in a place that has constructed a careful image of experience. The (corporate) embassies have immense power due to their ability to ‘glocalize’  themselves in urban fabrics. The project is using the generic space as an embassy; it attaches itself to the local culture and standardizes it. In exchange, it gets re-branded and stabilized as something else. As a systematic approach, the project is placing three embassies in my hometown (Lecheria, Venezuela) dealing with three landscapes that are key for the local culture: the park, the parking lot and the beach (Figure 16).  The architecture is developed by studying three key areas that define the embassies’ territory:      - The use of boundaries: Implementation of imperceptible security measures that makes the space feel safe but equally open. As the experience goes, the space has to portray the same images of happiness and gathering that McDonald’s was built from, and in the hard drawings, the things that you do not see in your experience should rely on soft security measurements.     - The production and reproduction of the crafted image: The image of McDonald’s as the ‘other’ has to be carefully designed. The internal processes of McDonald’s and branding should be carried over from inside out. It is not only a way to determine its global attributes, but as a way to separate itself from the city fabric.     - 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. The line of the necklace is formed through ephemeral aspects, such as visual and smell cues (Figure 17).The Park The Parking Lot The BeachFigure 16 Three proposal for three sites in Lecheria, Venezuela [Image by Author]44 45    Since the embassy works as a series of nodes in the landscape, this project is taking three establishments from the larger system, and tying them to the Venezuelan culture of my childhood. The three stories intertwine my childhood memories with speculative design. Each chapter is concerned with the sequence between outside and inside, and deals with layers of thresholds, security, and branding.  They each have a specific context: the park, the parking lot, and the beach. 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 22km structure. Each chapter deals with publicity differently: The park is an open flow of people, the boundary is blurred. The parking lot has a set of multiple entrances, but the boundary is set. The beach has a single entry point, and its edge is very distinguished. The McDonaldization of these spaces are examples of stabilization, rationalization, and control through coexistence. Figure 17 The proliferation of the Banal [Image by Author] Endnotes1 Ritzer, George. The McDonaldization of Society, 20th anniversary ed., 7th ed (Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, 2013).2 Gill Lui, Elizabeth, Keya Keita, and Jane C. Loeffler. 2004. Building Diplomacy: The Architecture of American Embassies. Ithaca, N.Y: Distributed by Cornell University Press in association with Four Stops Press, Los Angeles, California.3 Rem Koolhaas, and Hal Foster, Junkspace with Running Room (Widworthy Barton, Devon: Notting Hill Editions, 2013).4 “Hong Kong’s ‘McRefugees’ On The Rise Amid Summer Heat,”, accessed December 8, 2019, Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization of Society.6Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization of Society.7 Dima Stouhi.  “Fast Food Slowed Down: What’s Behind the All the Redesigns - and Is It Enough?,” ArchDaily, August 23, 2018, Ritzer, George, The McDonaldization of Society.46 47Figure 18 Three  proposals take a place in the social politics of Venezuela [Image by Author]The park The Parking Lot The Beach48 49a short story about security and the fence“Can I play outside?” “You know we can’t. Go and play at the garage. I can see someone is playing soccer there.”  A conversation between my mother and I. February 09, 2009 3:41 pm. 50 51I heard on the news that there was a new playground in the park 1. I asked my mother if we could go there to play like the kids on TV 2. She tells me that once upon time there was a place beyond Chavez Eyes’ 3, before there was a fence 4.1 In 2007, the government constructed a new playground at the park. It was very popular for a while, but it got abandoned due to lack of maintenance and the high insecurity that succumbed the country. 2 During my childhood, there was a huge influence by American tv, such as Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network.3  The country was filled with political propaganda, with imagery of Chavez’s persona, and the socialist party. 4 Venezuelan’s high insecurity started to create physical boundaries that dete-riorates public space,  while prioritizing the private-public establishments.(1)(4)(3)(3)(3)(3)Figure 19 Site and context [Image by Author]52 53She tells me the fence was supposed to keep the criminals out, but it actually left everybody out 1. She thinks the fence produced more paranoia than calmness 2. The fence made the park seem out of bounds 3. She points at a place that seems not from here, because it has no fence 4.1 The citizens started to use architectural boundaries to protect themselves.2 It has been proven that using a fence does not help with a decrease in insecurity, it just reinforces the paranoia of criminal activity. (Deutinger)3 The park, even as a public space, was unapproachable and inaccessible due to its fence. It was commonly known that the park was a space for hard-drugs users. 4 The project uses soft measure techniques to blur the boundaries but still makes it approachable (1)(4)(3)Figure 20 The park, the fence and the castle [Image by Author]54 55My mother tells me a story about a castle with a moat 1. It is heavy and red. There is a big bright sign 2. I have not seen colors like this before 3. Before we enter, we need to order something 4. She whispers that all spaces have rules 5. She grabs the receipt. I cross the bridge 6. 1 Using the courtyard typology to explore the relationship of the landscape with an ‘other’2 Signaling that this space is not owned by local forces. 3 The different rules, symbolism, colors and ideas behind a corporate space resemblances an ‘other’ in the local urban context.4 Engaging with standard protocols of the corporation, as a fee for the soft-public space. 5 The government authoritarian power, and the corporation authoritarian power are not so different. 6 Second boundaries between local landscape, and ‘other’. (6)(5)(1)(2)(4)(3)Figure 21 The Gate [Image by Author]56 57We go to the biggest tower to pick our food 1. People are sharing the ground, laying among the flowers 2. I see someone drinking beers 3.  My mother tells me to sit under the shadows of the palm trees 4.1 The specification of McDonald’s demands a very specific space for their kitchens. The kitchen in the floor plan is a true standard McDonald’s kitchen. 2 The extraterritorial space allows for small, yet significant, allowances in the social culture of the local context3 Venezuelans having a ‘vacio’, which is a traditional beer crate, as a symbol-ism for the expression of liberty on the extraterritorial space.4 Allowing the space to be protected by a moat of playballs, as a way to not incur in insecurity paranoia, and enable the space to enjoy a publicity that is no longer available in the local context. (1)(4)(2)(3)Figure 22 Floor Plan [Image by Author]58 59The music is in a language I do not understand 1. I hear children playing. I want to play too. My mother said that I can go after I finish my fries. She describes the third tower as a maze 2. I eat and leave. She goes to the fourth tower. She meets Maria, and sits in the amphitheater 3. They gossip about their husbands, and about where they can find toilet paper 4.  I keep running between colors, and shapes 5. I am racing to get to the bridge at the top.1 Implying a detachment to the local context by playing American music. 2 Each tower offers a different infrastructural service: The third tower offers bathrooms on the bottom, and the playspace on the top. 3  The fourth tower offers a formal seating area, and a coffee shop on the ground level. 4 Venezuela suffers daily from shortages for common goods, and the best way to find where they are being sold is by word-of-mouth. 5  McDonald’s play spaces have the signature texture of plastics, colors and feelings. (3)(2)(5)Figure 23 Third and Fourth tower [Image by Author]60 61At the middle of the bridge, I looked down to see the moat 1. It divides the park but it looks the same to me. My mother tells me they are not the same. She yells me the rules are different 2. Maybe I can stay in the middle forever, and be part of none. I told her to take me to a place with no boundary 3.1 Everything seems clearer looking at it from above.2  There is always an omnipresent authority in the space we inhabit3 Allowing the public landscape to enhance its thresholds and boundaries allow for approachability and connection to the citizens. (1)(2)Figure 24 The garden [Image by Author]62 63a short story about lights and publicity “Remember, do not use your cellphone until you get there. People are always watching. Be careful. Hide your chain”“Can I go now?”“I will pick you up by 6:00 pm.” A conversation between my mother and I. January 18, 2008 2:03 pm. 64I am leaving the shopping mall. I  have to go through 80 meters of darkness, lines and cars 1. My mother tells me that the most unsafe place is the parking lot 2. She tells me to follow the lights 3, and not look back.1 Venezuela has been suffering from electricity shortages since the early 2009. In Lecheria, most public urban structures, light posts, and street lights, are damaged, so the city is at dark during the nights. 2 One of the most common techniques to rob someone in Venezuela was to wait for them in the parking lot before they get into their cars. 3 McDonald’s  can work as an infrastructural element in the city: providing light, as a self-serving action that guides the citizens to them. (3)65(1)(2)Figure 25 80  meters of darkness, lines and cars [Image by Author]66 67I follow a line of lights. I see a ‘Welcome’ sign 1. The post is red with yellow neon lights. The area is bright 2. I see people talking in the corner 3. I take a breath. I normally do not see benches around the streets. I sit 4.1 McDonald’s working as a parasite infiltrating itself in the urban context. 2 The post is creating small pockets of extraterritoriality by giving something that is needed: light. 3 The infiltration of the posts structure allows for an ease in the local social pressures. 4 I do not remember many benches back home, and I asked my mother too. She doesn’t remember them either. It is not common to see them around the city. (1)(2)(3)(4)Figure 26 The light post [Image by Author]68 69Floor plan I entered the edge of the center 1. There are cars park, with foldable tables and chairs 2. People are hanging out, drinking under the yellow lights 3. 1 When the user is getting closer to the building, the lights closer together  allowing for bigger gatherings.2. It is very traditional to pull out your car, and park and gather space be-tween the cars. This has decreased due to the high insecurity in the country.3 The limits of the authority of McDonald’s extends in the city fabric. It merges and appropriates more territory than the building itself. (3)(1)(2)Figure 27 Floor plan [Image by Author]70 71I hear noises. I can see through the building 1. I still do not know where the front and the back are 2. I can see something bright floating in the sky 3.(2)1 The building was designed using view lines, so the user can see through the entire structure, making it approachable.2 The building is shaped as a polygon, so it blurs the two edges of the site: the highway and the shopping mall. 3 The McDonald’s symbolism is always a point of reference, as something foreign. (1)(3)Figure 28 Entry view [Image by Author]72 73 I order.  I see a gap in the floor  1. I wonder what it is. I do not get closer.  I decide to get small fries. I look up and see someone using a computer 2. I ask for ketchup. She tells me they are inside at the other side of the stage 3. I have to go through three edges before I get my ketchup 4. 1 Small changes to the ground to differentiate between the local and the extraterritorial. 2 McDonald’s can provide an infrastructural element that many people in the country do not have: wi-fi. 3 The space provides the basic needs of a McDonald’s while allowing freedom of expression within its boundaries. 4 The three edges are the sidewalk, the depression on the edge of the build-ing, and the gap between the building and the amphitheater platform. (1)(4)(2)(3)Figure 29 Three edges to get to the amphitheater [Image by Author] 74 75The  space is so light and vibrant that it seems like daytime. People are dancing 1. The music is loud.  I sit down. The surface is soft 2. I keep excessively searching for ketchup. Someone next to me sees me, and gives me an extra pack of ketchup. I call my mother 3. She is coming to pick me up.(1)1 Perhaps, this is not one of the controlled McDonaldized activities, but the architecture allows for people to express the Venezuelan culture by dancing salsa. 2 The surfaces are highly controlled, using textures, and colors to make the space feel approachable. 3 One of the reasons I decided to treat McDonald’s with a different focus is because this is one of the places in the shopping mall where you could make a phone call in public.(2)(3)Figure 30 The amphitheater [Image by Author]76 77a short story of 22km and a beach “Is there a beach in McDonald’s”“Yes.”“That is so cool hahaha! I’d  totally have a Quarter pounder at the beach right now. You have no idea!”A conversation between Venezuelans. April 19, 202011:42 am. 78 79Every time I go to the beach, my mother tells me to hide my gold chain 1. My mother can’t decide who is scarier, the police 2 or the salesmen 3, which the beach is full of.  We can not find a place to sit; it seems like everything is for sale 4 or under governmental power 5. I fall asleep next to a palm tree.1 This was a very typical phrase at my house. Venezuela has a tradition of giving gold jewelry with religious motifs as a protection totem. 2 In Venezuela, the police forces and the thugs are considered equally dangerous. 3 The vendors are known to be quite aggressive when they are trying to sell you something. 4 In a typical beach in Venezuela, vendors are allowed to fill the beach with private seating areas. This transforms the beach from a public one to a private one. 5 As the rest of the territory, the beach is under constant  militarization.(2)(3)Figure 31 Site and context [Image by Author]80 81A shiny yellow bright sign wakes me up 1. I smell something coming from behind the palms 2. I walk over. I look around and there are no more vendors. I am hiding behind the natural fence 3. People are sitting on the sand 4. I walk over. I see a different beach. The cashier asks me what I want to order 5. 1 The McDonald’s post is reflecting the Venezuelan intense sun.2 Using ephemeral sensorial elements to attract the customers.3 The natural fence of palm trees serves as a soft security measurement, such as a moat and the light posts. 5 Since the space between the palms, and the buildings is owned by an external agent, the space becomes outside of the jurisdiction of the military at the beach. (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)Figure 32 Floor plan [Image by Author]82 83The beach was rowdy. I could not find a chair. I sat on the sand 1. Some guy is grilling his own meat 2. People are ordering from the beach 3. A girl is filling her 5 gallon water jug 4. I can smell the fries 5. Someone is telling me to relax.  The building is so long I can not see the end.(1)(2)(4)1 Seating on the sand as a new experience when people are not bothering you to rent  a chair. 2  The limits of extraterritoriality are being tested by the idiosyncrasy of the Venezuelan culture. Are people able to cook their own meat if they buy the cheapest meal at the entry? 3 Using modern technology to capitalize the beach the best way McDonald’s can do it. 4 As Venezuela is also suffering from a potable water crisis, places like McDonald as a global institution can provide water to the local community. 5 Using branding techniques to create a relax state of mind. (3)(5)Figure 33 The beach [Image by Author]84 85I start swimming. At 5km, there is a dessert bar 1. I go up the stairs. I hear birds singing. They are migrating to Argentina 2. I order a McFlurry. I can not see the edge of the building 3. I got a receipt. I see a Ronald McDonald floating 4. I keep walking.1 Dispersing the kitchen through the 22 km as a way to delimitate the space. Using branding to mark the space. 2 The creation of such structures not only affect local cultures, but global migration paths for animals and humans. 3 McDonald’s still uses traditional techniques of place making by softening corners, plastic, colors and textures.4 As a way to protect the perimeter, the structure uses a Ronald’s McDonald’s buoy to limit the boundary in deep waters. (4)(1)(2)(3)Figure 34 The dessert bar [Image by Author]86 87To pass the bridge, I had to wait in line - I thought this was supposed to be fast 1. The machine needs to check your receipt 2. A  container ship is crossing by 3. I finally get on. The ride is going fast. I see a glimpse of the ocean 4. I am on the other side.1 As 22km is quite a long distance, McDonald’s is letting some areas go, which will become contested spaces within the corporation embassy. 2  Referring to George Ritzer “McDonaldization of Society”, the irratio-nality of rational services is to wait in line, which has become part of the experience. 3 Using the receipt as a corporate passport. 4 Using the bridge as a tourist attraction, and as the biggest McDonald’s advertisement in the world. (2)(1)(3)(4)Figure 35 The 'M' bridge [Image by Author]88 89I get to the end. I see people arriving 1. I make the line. They ask where my receipt is 2. I can not find it. I lost it on the way. I can not enter the international port 3. I have to go back.1 The building is so long that it arrives in international waters. It is making the McDonald’s an international port. 2 The ticket is the meal you buy at the entry point. 3 The distractions are not only a way to keep you entertained, but as a way to let you forget about your ticket, and going back to the cycle of consumerism culture. (1)Figure 36 The International Port [Image by Author]90 91Three proposalsThree sites Three ideas All the same corporation.Figure 37 Three proposal, three buildings, one corporation [Image by Author]92 93 The banal and infra-ordinary needs to be re-focused as hey are integral parts of our urban landscape. As architecture academia has been obsessed with the art museum, we should get obsessed with the ordinary: the grocery store, the bank, the fast-food chain. The everyday is now a political tool within the right context. The  project looks for the social and political depth on the architecture of the “infra-ordinary.” These spaces are evolving not only as social demarcations but as political mechanisms.  As the authority of the nation state is moving to a corporate power, we should study where and how these systems are taking place. The architecture field can twist these spaces, managed by the corporations. The project attempts to shift the focus back to the forgotten, where architects must claim a social responsibility to better cities through public spaces, existing infrastructure and the importance of everyday facilities rather than implementing ‘band-aid’ solutions in the form of shiny new temporary museums and retail complexes.  Capitalism remains a part of the globalized society we inhabit, but how we address it does not need to be as binary as in the past. By extracting elements from global corporate architectures, a new language appropriates the success and safety from the interiors into the everyday urban territory. Our daily experience is connected to the every-day architectures, and we must make these spaces work for us, the civilians. What did I learn from this? My mother dressed me as an elephant for my birthday party at this McDonald's. Figure 38 My childhood McDonald's [Image by Author]94 95Armborst, Tobias, Daniel D’Oca, Georgeen Theodore, and Riley Gold. The Arsenal of Exclusion & Inclusion. New York: Actar Publishers, 2017.Becker, Thomas H., and Thomas H. Becker. Doing Business in the New Latin America: A Guide to Cultures, Practices, and Opportunities. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004.openDemocracy. “Inequality Persists in Chavista Venezuela.” Accessed December 11, 2019., Folke T. Review of Review of Googie, Fifties Coffee Shop Architecture, ; Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants, by Alan Hess and Philip Langdon. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 48, no. 2 (1989): 204–5., Theo and Brendan McGetrick. 2018. Notebook of Tyranny. Zürich, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers.Gill Lui, Elizabeth, Keya Keita, and Jane C. Loeffler. 2004. Building Diplomacy: The Architecture of American Embassies. Ithaca, N.Y: Distributed by Cornell University Press in association with Four Stops Press, Los Angeles, California.Klingmann, Anna. Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2007.Koolhaas, and Hal Foster. Junkspace with Running Room. Widworthy Barton, Devon: Notting Hill Editions, 2013.Langdon, Philip. Orange Roofs, Golden Arches: The Architecture of American Chain Restaurants. London: Joseph, 1986.Littlejohn, David, and Charles W. Moore. Architect: The Life and Work of Charles W. Moore. 1st ed.--. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984.Lynch, Kevin. The Image of the City. Nachdr. Publication of the Joint Center for Urban Studies. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT PRESS, 2005.Marsh, Hazel. “Venezuela’s Long History of Racism Is Coming Back to Haunt It.” The Conversation. Accessed December 11, 2019.“Venezuelans Have Little Trust in National Government, Say Economy Is in Poor Shape.” Pew Research Center (blog). Accessed December 7, 2019., Georges, and John Sturrock. Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. New ed. Penguin Classics. London, England ; New York: Penguin Books, 2008.Stouhi, Dima “Fast Food Slowed Down: What’s Behind the All the Redesigns - and Is It Enough?.” August 23, 2018., Kenneth. “Press Freedom Is Dying In Venezuela.” Forbes. Accessed December 9, 2019., Loren. “‘98% Impunity Rate in Venezuela’: Opposition.” InSight Crime (blog), March 27, 2017., George. The McDonaldization of Society. 20th anniversary ed., 7th ed. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage, “Save The .... McDonald’s? One Franchise In France Has Become A Social Justice Cause.” Accessed December 8, 2019., Michael, ed. Variations on a Theme Park: The New American City and the End of Public Space. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1992.Food & Wine. “The 5 Best and Worst Slogans in McDonald’s History.” Accessed December 6, 2019.“Venezuela Death Rate 1950-2019.” Accessed December 7, 2019.“Venezuela, mestiza pero profundamente racista.” Accessed December 14, 2019.“Venezuela Profile - Timeline.” BBC News, February 25, 2019, sec. Latin America & Caribbean., Robert, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour. Learning from Las Vegas. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1972.Wilpert, Gregory. “Venezuela’s New Constitution.”, August 27, 2003.“Apocalypse.” Accessed December 6, 2019.“High line - FAQ.” Accessed December 8, 2019.“Hong Kong’s ‘McRefugees’ On The Rise Amid Summer Heat.” Accessed December 8, 2019.“Log 45.” Accessed December 8, 2019.“World Report 2019: Rights Trends in Venezuela.” Human Rights Watch, December 20, 2018. 97Two dogs and a lady were walking on the sidewalk. We nodded to each other cordially. The dog smelled me. He was cute. Two neighbors, or possible gay couple, were running through the landscape of suburban houses. No one stayed too long. Some people were weird out because I am standing on the sidewalk, staring at people. They acknowledge but did not engage; they just nodded and left. The two houses in the front have set back from their big lawns. The division between lawn and concrete pad were smushed together, but not enough to invite me to their lawn. The longer I stayed, the out-of-place I felt. They were not expecting that I was just standing there for an hour. More people start walking by. I was not there, or here.The sidewalk is a part of the public realm. It is the connection between all ‘others.’ However, we did not enjoy them. I find this concept very strange as the sidewalk is probably the most prominent infrastructure of the public space we have in cities. Should we not use it more? If we have so much of it, shouldn’t we, as architects and policymakers, make it a more usable? Could we create a world with no sidewalk?Sidewalk Address: Sasamat and 15th. 10:00amI woke up. I took a shower. I skipped breakfast. I got dressed. I had my ‘sad’ sandwich lunch day. I went to the park. Well, shall we consider it a park? Just because I do not want to argue with that sign, it is a park. It has some trees, a concrete platform, some hills. Everything is artificially planted and maintained. I did not see any-one there. It was a bit sad. Even the sidewalk looked more public than the park itself. No one stayed; they just rushed to the bus stop. It was only me, with my ‘sad’ sandwich. It was quiet, which was offsetting. It was a place to do nothing, and that it is okay.Whenever I think about this park, I always referred to the idea of the duck and shed. I know these principles used for architectur-al building projects, but why can’t we apply them to a landscape. Is it a park because of its functionality, aesthetics, or because there is a sign that tells me it is a park? It is equally intriguing to think about a park as a natural landscape. I wondered are these parks con-sidered a park because they are natural and not in some ways artificially maintained, or perhaps, we tell ourselves that it is natural, and therefore, it is a park. The production of meaning in the postmodern society is enter-taining because we are in the constant need the reinforcement through messages and signifiers to program space to believe it is a specific typology. I have a question for a quite long time the presence of parks in the urban Jim Everett Memorial Park Address: Dalhousie Rd, Greater Vancouver A, BC, Canada1:30 pm  cities and the perceptions in the citizen col-lective memory. I find strange the need for something that looks natural, even though it more part of the Anthropocene and not a ‘natural.’ The park is just a memory of what ‘they’ encrypted in our collective idealiza-tions. In the 24/7 society, we must understand signifiers that create a stable structure in our rush environment.Library Address: 1961 E Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1, Canada3:00 pm I wondered why did they come here if they were going to use their phones the time? Like, if you come to the library to study, don’t you think it might be better just to do it? I wondered about the need to go to a li-brary to study when you are just using your computer? Do the books give a presence of knowledge? Is it worth losing time commut-ing, setting your station up and doing work and not doing it at home? What is the dif-ference between studying at home or in the library? Maybe, we do enjoy the presence of other human beings? Maybe, we do enjoy the peer pressure? ‘Omg, they cannot see me not doing work. I am scared of judgment’ type of thinking. But, if you are using your phone, what is the difference? Should we close all the libraries? Are these antiquated institu-tions? Should the library become a cyber, a place where computers are shared? Shall we keep them because we like seeing other peo-ple doing work? Are we in need of signifiers that make us productive? Books = knowledge = work done, perhaps?We shall differentiate the communal and public space as two different entities. The li-brary, through its regulations and quiet spac-es, can mostly work as a public space but not as a communal space. The degree of publicity tied the institution to being segregated and secluded spaces. The use of symbols of exclu-sion, such as library cards and id, is apparent throughout the space. Even if they are open to the public, they are classifying people through the check-out system. The communal space of the library embeds the user in mostly soli-tude activities, such as reading and note-tak-ing, which does not engage in inter-personal development. Ownership is the deciding fac-tor in the degree of publicity.98 99Bus stop Address: UBC Exchange, BC V6T 2A1, Canada5:00 pm He was looking vaguely into the nothing next to someone else who was looking at the noth-ing too. Their bodies were facing the same way, with a strangely similar look on their faces; dead eyes were all over the place. Head-phones on, jackets on waiting eagerly for the bus. The space mixed with rush and exhaus-tion. It was strangely civic: no talking, no see-ing, no whispering, just waiting and waiting – of course, if we can classify this interaction as civic. Are bodies next to each other civ-ic? These people were not even making eye contact because that may be too personal for a space like this. It was better to look at the nothing, to look the rock on the asphalt, to look at the runner trying to make it to the bus, and betting if he is going to make it.The bus stop is always in transit; no one stays; it is a non-place. Even though it is pub-lic in the sense of its exterior structure, and openness to the public, there is no intended to create relationships. The bus stop can be considered a civic space, but not a social one. Even the people that I would consider them friends, they were not talking or engaging. It was a tense moment when the bust arrived. We did the protocol, and we got on.BusAddress: 99 bus6:00 pm Sitting down, I saw two people talking about their next term. The guy behind me was lis-tening to music. I guess it is better not to eavesdrop other people’s conversation, but they are so close to me. It is impossible not to hear them. Maybe, they do want me to hear them, and I want that too. The conversation is not very exciting, but I do love good sto-rytelling. They seem very fashionable and relaxed. I wish I can take my next semester and be their friend. But, I did not engage. I was quiet and looking at them. I did not think this space was a place to engage in a stranger’s Is the bus a public space? What is the differ-ence between the bus and a fast-food corpo-ration? Private corporations own them both, they both charged an X amount of dollar to letting us their space; they both accept every kind of people without prejudice. I guess in some ways; the fast-food corporation is even more public because there is a chance that you might enter without paying and using the facilities, on the bus not so much. What is the perception of the bus makes it look public? Did someone tell me that it was, and I be-lieved them? The bus is a civic space, but it Legion Address: 2205 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5N 4B6, Canada6:30 pm is not engaging. It is the definition of a non-place, forever in transit. What makes a bus more public than a fast-food space? It is in-deed owned by a probably evil corporation, as well. When will the bus become the expe-rience of the space and not an efficient way to get to a place? When will the bus take on the experience economy? Maybe if they lose their monopoly on the system?A Middle Eastern guy, a South Asian guy, and a Venezuelan guy entered a bar. We just crossed the front door. Through the door thresholds, we can see four white older men. They looked at us; we looked at them. They look at us again. Their faces are estranged. We started looking at each other. Moment of silence. We laughed. They kept looking at us. A middle-eastern guy told a south Asian guy: “maybe, shall we go to the bar next?”. The guy in the front door looked at us. We looked at him. The bar seemed silent; the light was bright white. I nodded. We left, and I could see the disappointed face in the guy in the front door. I do not know what happened there, but a friend jokingly said that this type of situation happens when I take them to do my work with me.The Legion, as a veteran club, is an open pub-lic space that is slightly marked by a political connotation. I do not consider being open to the general population, but they give a space for a specific sector of the urban fabric. It is not that it is not open to the public, but the people were not comfortable for me to be there. The regular users of the place affected the level of publicity of the establishment; they define the social hierarchy of the place. There is a sign outside that establishes a place for veterans, which inherently involves the politics of war and time. It creates a space for a specific sec-tion of the population, a millennial like me; it is not welcome. The symbol of exclusion was very sublime and meant to keep people away from the establishment.conversation, which I would do in a bar.100 101The Bar Next Door (The Dime)Address: 1565 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y2, Canada6:35 pmThe waitress smiled at him as she took us to the table. We started drinking and gossiping and gushing about something that happened that week. We were so loud that the waitress was into it. She loved it. Maybe because her tips are a result of our happiness. God, even the kitchen was laughing at our jokes. We were that loud, but that was okay because we were inside. We could not be that loud out-side – I would consider that being so improp-Do we believe that this bar was more public because it did not engage with politics? ‘The dime’ does not mean anything political. It is not referring to something else more than a catchy name that rings in our heads. The bar does not engage with a specific popula-tion: It is an inclusive space, but I don’t argue that it produces a nothing state. The bar has a population in mind, perhaps it is why I feel accepted here and not in The Legion. I can argue that it is the signifier in the Legion is so pronounced. The classification of people in the Dime is a bit more nuanced as it is hard to grasp what their motives are.McDonald’s Address: 1565 Commercial Dr, Vancouver, BC V5L 3Y2, Canada12:03 am People are screaming, heavily intoxicated, they are laughing, they are acting as if they were at their house. A couple of guys are talking about who was the hottest girl at the party tonight. The homeless-looking guy is by itself in the cor-ner eating in peace. McDonald’s works at his best in the middle of the night, when you can see the symbol of haven, that famous capital M, and when the other exclusion symbols blurred themselves against the darkness. The bland ge-neric McDonald’s allow for both to be welcome. Nevertheless, the workers are rushing through orders among intense chaos. Things seem fuzzy, diffused, but under control, because after all, we are the ‘happiest place on earth.’ The food is not as important, as the need for a place to go: the parks closed, the beach-es closed, the library closed, but I still need something open and ready to go. I need some-thing fast and cheap, and that it engages with me and my friends. At 2:30 am, I do want to be in the happiest place on earth.I could consider all these spaces being a threshold to other spaces. The sequential of these spaces are always tied together to our daily life. The permeability of flexible public spaces expands and surpass ideas of privatiza-tion. We are always in spaces that we consid-ered private, but when we think about them, they are most of our authentic public spaces in our current environment. It is where we develop and enhance our humane side. How-ever, all architecture or public infrastructure is tied to ownership - it is not an autonomous object. By default, we are interrogating ‘public space’ in a classification of publicity. The government owns the park. The business-man owns the restaurant. The landlord owns the sidewalk. Someone told me once that these private spaces are ‘soft’ because they are not always open to the public. I regretted not fighting  with her and ask her what space ‘hard’ public space is actually. Do we think about the public square militarized? Are we talking about the congress that is protected by governmental police forces? Is she in de-nial of the governmental power against her? Does she believe that if the government goes wrong, will they be able to protest in peace? Was she delusional? 102 103Figure 39 Fast-food's timeline [Image by Author]


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