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Building a Manmade, 'Crime-Free' City For Guatemala's Elite

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Guatemalan developers have hatched a plan to build a "crime-free city," a gated town built for the nation's most well-heeled residents—an sort of oasis in a scrabbling economy that will boast private guards patrolling 24-7 and zero pesky urban disturbances like crowds and poverty. (Heads up: by "crime-free" they actually mean "away from the rabble of Guatemala City.") Anyway, the developers of Paseo Cayala, which sits just seven miles south of the country's capital, plan to keep prices for its 110 apartments lofty enough to ensure the city's residents are suitably savory—the $260K price tag of the town's cheapest dwellings is about 70 times the average Guatamalan's yearly wage. According to The Huffington Post, work began in January 2011, and developers have already invested $66M into the city, erecting whitewashed apartments, polished public buildings, and eerily quiet shopping porticos. It's the type of project that was once only in the thought experiments of ethicists and anthropologists, and many people are certain this project, like other, crazier proposals for future cities, is doomed to eventually fold in on itself. Not to mention, of course, the ethical implications. "We can't fool ourselves into believing that a rigid, controlled and elitist project is public space and giving something to the city when it clearly isn't the case," says Alejandro Biguria, a Guatemalan architect. On the other hand, Guatemalans like a 39-year-old teacher, also interviewed by HuffPo, see it as a emblem of change: "It just doesn't feel like you're in Guatemala. I think more places like this should be built. I mean look at how pretty it is."

· Guatemala Builds Private 'Cayala City' For Rich To Escape Crime [Huffington Post via Architizer]
· Behold: 12 Bonkers Proposals For the World's Future Cities [Curbed National]