Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Evoking Puerto Rico : A sense of place

Librado Romero/The New York Times
Rincon Carillo is a casita in the United We Stand community garden.
The clubhouses offer a rural Puerto Rican tradition

The New York Times published an intriguing article on the casistas (tiny houses) of the South Bronx. The 16' x 16' house pictured above is one of many scattered throughout the Bronx that are meant to evoke the Puerto Rican countryside, where low-roofed buildings surrounded by gardens, known as casitas, “little houses,” are a common sight. These houses serve as clubhouses, mostly for men, although there are some women's quilting/sewing groups that meet in casitas.

Adolfo CarriĆ³n Jr., the Bronx borough president, who last week was appointed to a position in the Obama administration, has urged the New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in a report issued last month to declare Rincon Criollo, along with other casitas, as city landmarks.

This is an unusual slant on historic preservation which usually includes only older, richly historic, long standing buildings. One could argue, at the least, that these are transient, and "merely" modern structures.
Emphasizing sites that have cultural significance, like the casitas, “is very, very different from how we normally have done things, but it is important to broaden the definition,” said Bernd Zimmermann, a former planner in the Bronx borough office who headed the task force that created the list.
We are certain that there is a lively debate about to arise. If culturally significant buildings are designated as landmark buildings, where would that stop?

hat tip: l.young

No comments: