GSD Course Bulletin - Fall 2011

01505: Mexico City and the Production of Housing (STU 0150500)

Urban Planning and Design
Option Studio - 8 credits - Limited enrollment
Wednesday Friday 2:00 - 6:00  

Course Tools for this course (Canvas)

Jose Castillo

Course Description

Instructor: Jose CastilloTeaching Assistant: Daniel DaouIntroduction:Mexico City is one of the most dynamic and complex metropolitan areas in the world today. With over 20.1 million inhabitants, remarkable urban growth, an active, yet dual economy and a palimpsest of material histories centuries-old, it is quite a case study for architecture and urban planning today. The fact that the city grows by more than 160,000 people every year represents a huge urban challenge for the production of housing, infrastructure and services.With an important housing deficit, Mexico City will keep building close to a 100,000 units of housing every year, almost half of those produced through the informal sector and self-built processes. In the past fifteen years, the bulk of housing production has taken place in the peripheries of the city, manifested in a low-rise, low-density, mono-use carpet of single-family housing.In recent years, an effort by government authorities has been made to transform the paradigm of housing through the promotion of DUIS (integrated Sustainable Urban Developments). This incentive-based certification system, based on the notion of developing sustainable urban environments and not just housing, has yet to produce its first inner-city project. Mexico City has a history of massive housing projects (over 13,000 units) designed by a single architect, such as those of Nonoalco Tlatelolco by Mario Pani and Las Americas in Ecatepec by Consorcio Ara (only comparable to Co-op City in the Bronx and the Bijlmermeer in Amsterdam).This studio will critically reassess the notion of large-scale developments and their relationship with the city. The guiding premise is that innovation in our approach towards density, land use, transportation, size of lots and scale of projects, flexibility, construction, domestic space as well as social engagement can produce not only better housing but also a different urbanity and performance that addresses the new social, economic, ecological and programmatic imperatives of the contemporary city.Taking our cues from a series of innovative experiments that range from Previ in Peru to Elemental in Chile, as well as from recent urban housing projects in Europe and Asia, the studio will establish new protocols for the production of housing in Mexico City. The studio is interested in finding not only what is unique or relevant to housing in Mexico City today, but also how these issues build up knowledge about cities in general and the architectural practice in particular. The studio will actively interact with local government institutions, developers and architects engaged in the policy, planning and design of housing in the city. We will deal with the multiple planning, urban design and architecture scales so participation from students from all departments is desired.Methodology:The Mexico City Housing Studio is based on a collaborative approach of addressing the problems of contemporary urban housing by involving, in the process of teaching and learning, the multiple stakeholders in the production of housing. The purpose of the studio is to explore the challenges and opportunities of producing new large-scale projects of urban housing through the territorial densification of central areas of Mexico City and to innovate in the planning, the policies and the design aspects of housing.The studio hopes to discover ways to overcome the current obstacles for redensification and to provide a discussion platform for a wide range of ideas with different consequences and usefulness for authorities, developers and designers engaged in the production of housing. Two pre-selected sites, between 6 and 10 hectares in size, will be given to the students from the beginning of the semester. These two sites will address two of the most relevant conditions for the project of redensification in Mexico City: on the one hand a post-industrial site, on the other a site adjacent to a large-scale public transportation infrastructure project. These two conditions, though not mutually exclusive, will allow for a wider range of ideas and strategies to be analyzed through the lens of housing and city-building.Structure of the course:During the first stage of the studio, the students and will research a number of housing case studies where there has been innovation in policies, in urban strategies, in architectural design and in sustainability approaches, both in historical and contemporary projects in different parts of the world.Also during this first stage, an analysis of the current urban conditions in the two sites, as well as that of the regimes of planning (housing mortgage, housing market, building regulations, ownership and property rights) defining current production of housing in Mexico City, will be developed by the students. This research will help in laying out an agenda for new urban housing in Mexico City.A brief for the project will be given which will address with specific objectives the following issues:-Higher Densities-Mixed-incomes-Mixed-uses-Public space and Public amenities-Diversity in urban morphologies and unit type-Flexibility, growth and adaptability of the unit-Efficiency of ResourcesThe students will work in teams during the first stage of the semester, and for the second stage it will be optional to remain working in teams or alone.Schedule:Jose Castillo will be at the GSD twice a week every other week. Official studio meeting time will take place Wednesdays and Fridays 2 to 6pm. Informal desk crits will be optional on Thursdays and additional sessions may take place with advance notice. Daniel Daou, who will be the Teaching Assistant will have permanent presence during the semester and facilitate communication with the professor on the weeks he is not there. During the mid-term and final reviews, a number of local experts from different fields will participate in the discussions.The tentative schedule for visits by Jose Castillo is as follows:Tuesday August 30th: Studio Presentation and LotteryWednesday September 1st: First Session and IntroductionWednesday Sept 14th:Friday Sept 16thWeek of Sept 19th to the 23rd: Studio Trip to Mexico CityWednesday October 5thFriday October 7thWednesday October 12thFriday October 14thWednesday October 26th Mid Term ReviewFriday October 28thWednesday November 9thFriday November 11thWednesday November 30thFriday December 2ndDecember 12th -December 16th: Final ReviewSchedule for trip and Workshop:The 4-day trip to Mexico City will include visits to the two sites where the projects will be developed. Students will get a first-hand look at the local conditions of the block and the neighborhood, the transportation and infrastructural issues and the specific challenges of the area. In addition it will include visits to some of the most relevant projects of housing in the last 50 years, both in central areas and in the peripheries including Nonoalco Tlatelolco and Centro Urbano Presidente Alemn by Mario Pani, Unidad Independencia, by Alejandro Prieto and Jose Mara Gutierrez, various projects result of Bando 2 policy in Condesa and Del Valle neighborhoods and housing in peripheries such as Ecatepec and Ixtapaluca. We will have meetings with various actors, both from the private and public sectors, involved in different aspects of the production of housing in Mexico City. As a key part of this trip, we will hold a 1-day workshop with authorities, architects, developers and academics to discuss the initial research and the future of housing in the city. Local partners will include CONAVI, Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal, Sedesol and Seduvi.Studio OutcomesThe outcome of the studio by the students will include the following deliverables:-An agenda for urban