Between Geometry and Geography: Mexico City

Tenochtitlan / Mexico City
Tenochtitlan/Mexico City

Carlos Garciavelez will serve as Teaching Associate in Urban Design for this option studio.

“I think, no injury to say the past ages have never come up to the degree of projecting and inventing, as it refers to matters of negotiation and methods of civil polity, which we see this age arrived to.” Daniel Defoe

This advanced option studio examines how a revised conception of the role of architecture and design within urban public works can transform mono-functional mobility projects into multifaceted infrastructural spines that can activate urban space at multiple scales. The studio will specifically focus on how the introduction of new forms of linear transit systems can serve as the epicenter of a broader public works agenda that can actually rethink the relationship between edge and center in Mexico City. Using a series of proposed extensions to Mexico’s integrated transportation system as a point of departure, the studio will envision how these infrastructural projects can serve as the epicenters of a much richer architectural brief, bringing together public space and public services in order to redefine the scope and ambition of a contemporary public works project.

The studio will be divided in three interrelated parts that will add up to a larger applied research and design project. For the first portion of the studio, students will unfold the broader history of the urban project in Mexico City. Through individual research students will discover the main urbanistic projects that have defined the morphology of the city from its pre-colonial times until the present day. While taking on a metropolitan district with more than 22 million people might seem unmanageable, the studio aims at understanding this contemporary metropolis by singling out the city’s most significant public works initiatives in order to construct a set of urban working drawings that can explain the most dominant geometries that have shaped the city. In doing so, the studio as a group will better understand the possibilities embedded in the conception of a contemporary public works project for the city. For the second portion of the studio, students will tackle the three proposed transit lines and contextualize them within the broader history previously researched, in order to situate their projects both within present day Mexico City and also in the context of a much larger history of urban projects in the city. Finally for the third and longest portion of the studio, the previous research and overall pedagogical bearings of the studio will guide how precise architectural interventions of diverse scales, can take advantage of the “metro” and other mobility systems system in order to establish a constellation of projects that, through accretion, can exercise substantial change at a metropolitan scale.

A studio trip is tentatively scheduled to Mexico City in February and the studio counts with the support of the Loeb Fellowship. The Fellows will travel with the studio to Mexico and will also be active participants in the studio throughout the semester.