AQUA INCOGNITA: Designing for extreme climate resilience in Monterrey, MX

Aqua Incognita continues to engage students in grappling with water-resilient urbanization processes, through the design of nature-based [1] reparative actions in the water-scarce region of Monterrey, Mexico—where we will travel at the end of September. Mexico’s industrial cradle, and a region undergoing a nearshoring industrial boom, this metropolis of 5,4 million people has seen decades of unsustainable urbanization trends and is threatened by critically unbalanced water regimes. While facing its own version of a day-zero crisis in the summer of 2022, they city has also withstood recurrent flooding catastrophes over the years. These extreme climatic events are likely to intensify amidst the warming of our planet.
With the objective of catalyzing actions that could trigger a more resilient water future in Monterrey, the studio will focus on one of Monterrey’s most strategic Critical Zones [2]: the Santa Catarina River. The restoration and conservation of this river basin and riparian corridor is key to the future of water security, the reduction of flood risk, and the equitable distribution of safe and healthy biodiverse areas across the city towards climate justice. Achieving these three objectives is part of a contested vision today. The studio has established a collaboration with experts, citizen groups, academia, the government, and the regional conservation institution Terra Habitus (studio sponsor) to push the transformation of this river watershed into a climate-resilient and ecologically stable region in the near-future.
To do so, we will conduct five acts of design over the course of the semester by: 1) studying important case studies and precedents; 2) producing critical cartographies to determine barriers and opportunities for design; 3) engaging in a workshop at the Tecnológico de Monterrey by the end of September with important actors and experts; 4) developing design proposals for strategic sites within the basin (both as part of upstream regional catchment areas and along the urban riparian corridor); 5) articulating narratives to convince decision makers to change status quo postures that exacerbate these unbalanced water regimes.
Your assembled work will be exhibited in Monterrey during the Spring of 2024 and published to be shared with our local collaborators. Studio travel will occur from Sept.28th to Oct.5th


TThe first day of GSD classes, Tuesday, September 5th, is held as a MONDAY schedule at the GSD. As this course meets on Tuesday, the first meeting of this course will be on Thursday, September 7th. It will meet regularly thereafter.