The Lakes Project, Mexico City

Guest Critic or Studio Consultant: Jose Manual Castillo OleaMr. Castillo is a principal in the firm Futura Deasrollo Urbano (FDU) in Mexico City. While a principal at FDU, his efforts have been focused on the Texcoco Lake Recovery Project+Mexico City International Airport, the Master Plan for La Malinche National Park, Puebla, the Gran Chapultepec Project: A comprehensive plan for Parque de Chapultepec in Mexico City, Ciudad Rio: A restoration of Rio de los Remedios, Neza Verde: Green corridors for Ciudad Nezahualcoyotl. In addition to his professional work, Mr Castilo is a member of the faculty at ITESM Campus Ciudad de Mexico, School of Architecture in Mexico City, where her teaches design and Topics in Urban Planning. Mr Castillo received both his MArch II and his Doctorate from the Graduates School of Design. The title of his thesis \”Mexico City: Urbanisms of the Informal\” was advised by Francois Vigier, Mona Serageldin, William Doebele. It is our great pleasure to have Jose work with us over the course of the semester. ContextMexico City manifests in quite an extreme way, the prevailing conditions of the contemporary megacity. Demographic growth, informal urbanization, air and water pollution, limited open space, social injustice, and lack of infrastructure stretch this urban environment to its limits. Founded by the Aztecs 700 years ago in a closed basin, the city coexisted with a system of lakes, most of which have been all but drained. In less than 50 years, the city has grown from 2 million to 18.5 million inhabitants but without the services, social infrastructure and open space needed. This growth has put an enormous pressure on the natural ecosystems, occupying ravines and forests, desiccating lakes and rivers generating a razor-edged balance with the environment. Texcoco Lake, the last remaining vestige of the system of lakes, is now a barren landscape of open waste dumps, illegal occupations, and flooded plains. The history of Mexico City is intertwined with the history of Texcoco Lake; from the water infrastructures built by Nezahualcoyotl, the poet king 5 centuries ago, to the recently cancelled project for a new airport; from the exacerbated demographic growth, to the problems of pollution. It is therefore not unreasonable to think that in the area of Texcoco, the future of the city-of the Next Mexico City-will be debated. Studio InquiryThe studio will engage the specific problems and opportunities that such a complex urban-natural environment in such a contested site presents to the disciplines of design, framed within the proposal for the 2012 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. The Polemic For some years now, an interdisciplinary group of professionals has worked on The Lakes Project-a strategic plan that proposes to recover Texcoco Lake as part of a vision of infrastructure, ecology, and urban development for the Valley of Mexico. This group has picked up the work of notable scientists of the 60\’s and 70\’s to imagine what the Next Mexico City could look like. The project was recently given special mention at the 8th International Exhibition of Architecture at the Venice Biennale \”for its visionary commitment and its evocation of original and environmentally sustainable concepts for the challenges confronting contemporary mega-cities today.\” The project proposes the construction of a system of lakes, fed by residual waters that the city currently discards. These lakes would be connected by urban infrastructures and surrounded by an 80km shore which would provide areas for urban growth, services, parks and infrastructure. Through the recycling of water, the project generates important environmental, social and economic benefits. The humidity produced by the lakes will sensibly reduce pollution, and the new hydrolo