mexico city
Visiting School

Recovering Landscapes
Universidad Iberoamericana

5–14 January 2011

Water has historically revealed itself to be a major concern for the viability of Mexico City; it poses a huge challenge of metropolitan scale, with infrastructural, social and urban implications. The scarcity of water, the increasing cost of the resource and the short-sighted management of it, together with the infrastructural works currently taking place – major drainage and wastewater treatment works plus the necessity to prevent/ control flooding and landslides – present opportunities to recover and manage water. In order to integrate water into the city landscape and trigger the regeneration and reconfiguration of the urban realm, the workshop will address water issues not only from the infrastructural side but from a multidisciplinary approach.

The workshop explored the idea of recovering waterscapes and the opportunities they offer to Mexico City in order to reassess its present and rethink its future. It aimed at defining different strategies, based on the exploration of local conditions, engineering techniques, material processes, experimentation with digital and representational tools and the use of
prototypical concepts within the Landscape Urbanism methodology developed at the AA. These strategies will inform the development of proposals at urban, landscape and architectonic scale in order to create alternative urban scenarios for specific areas in the city. As a result, it encouraged critical discussions on the current situation and suggest possible solutions. The work responded to specific questions posed by the analysis of the current situation in the city and sought the possibility of recovering existing or extinguished rivers (currently used as an open air water waste sewage system) water bodies (lakes), ravines etc as part of the city landscape. Furthermore, it focused on the rivers’ integration into the city fabric and the infrastructural, social, economical and political opportunities that they can generate for Mexico City.

A series of lectures, talks and seminars, around the topic of waterscapes: public policies, past/present projects/proposals, specific engineering techniques and site visits to major infrastructural works were presented and organised during the workshop. Invited lecturers and critics included Charles Waldheim and Eva Castro, among others.

Jose Alfredo Ramirez is an architect and co-founder of Groundlab. He has practised in several architectural offices and institutions in Mexico City, Madrid and London where he has concentrated in architectural and urban design projects like the Olympic masterplan for London 2012. At Groundlab he has won and developed several competitions, workshops, exhibitions and projects, including the winning entry for Longgang City masterplan and the ongoing development of the international horticultural exhibition project in Xian.