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XOCHIMILCO Archeology Ecology Urbanization



YIWEI HUANG Green Links Trough Communities Infrastructure as Landscape


New Frontiers of Sustainability Urban Edge


Landscape Integrated with Urbanization Aquifer Production

MINGCHUAN YANG Communal Conservancy Culture Ecology Land

KARKITI SHARMA Taichung Gateway Project Culture Ecology Land


Urbanization Works with Eco-park Interlocked Landscapes


Culture Landscape In and Out of the World


New Frontiers for Sustainability The Spaces of the Line


Cultural Landscape Preservation Water Urbanism in Xochimilco

Terminology 11

Xochimilco and Mexico City DF 13 Shaxi, China 25 Whakarewarewa, New Zealand 26 Communal Wildlife Conservancies, Namibia 27 Green Plan, Philadelphia 28 Taizhong Gateway Project, Taiwan 29 Back Bay Fens, Boston 30 Findhorn Ecovillage, Scotland 31 Grand Pre, Canada 32


Investigating Xochimilco 09


Michigan Mellon Project 07

Carla Maria Kayanan 36 Aaron Weller 38


Central Park, New York 33

Liminal Spaces 92 Settlement Spaces 128 Reserves and Reservations 158

Credits 194


Production and Logistics 44

An important part of the ecosystem of Xochimilco is a juniper tree called ahuejote that is native to the shallow waters of the lake/canals. Its stem erosion acts as a wind breaker and favors the reproduction of a variety of aquatic species. But juniper trees are depleting in the ecological zone mostly. Over 60% of the area is considered deforested and 80% have the parasitic plant mistletoe. Water lilies were introduced to the canals from Brazil in the 1940s. Since then, they have become a serious problem as their overgrowth depletes minerals and oxygen from water. Up to 400 tons of the plant is extracted from the canals monthly. In 2006, a Brazilian insect (Anthonomus grandis) was introduced to the canals to help control the plant. Other species like carp and tilapia were introduced in the 1960s. However, these have been very detrimental to the native ecosystem, especially the axolotl, whose eggs they eat.

Investigating Xochimilco 09

Terminology 11

Xochimilco and Mexico City DF 13

Credits 194


Michigan Mellon Project 07




Michigan Mellon Project Milton S.F. Curry

The Michigan/Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis is a 4-year academic and research initiative focused on architecture, urbanism and humanities research in Detroit, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro. It is made possible by a $1.3 million grant from the A. W. Mellon Foundation. The project allows design theory and practice to inform and be informed by questions of social justice, social movements and transformative creative arts movements - both past and present. The emphasis on cities and their specificity will focus humanists on linking theories of human interaction and collective life with the physical space of a city and its histories. The increased expertise in urbanism allows for humanists to better understand the market forces and economic constraints that inform design decisions that directly affect human life. The Master of Urban Design (M.U.D.) degree program in architecture exemplifies the aspirations of the Michigan / Mellon project in seeking to expose students to global contexts. The OneCity Studios situate questions of ethics, aesthetics, and cultural context within megacities and post-industrial cities, with students and faculty traveling to the selected city of focus twice during the academic degree program. In Mexico City - the focus city for the M.U.D. degree for 201415 - the context of a bustling metropolis with histories that intersect with ecological challenges provides a robust site for our students. Xochimilco, the site for the Urban Design Studio III, provides for the simultaneous investigation of archeology, ecology and urbanization across different scales. Further, the methodology of exploring reserves, production zones, logistic zones, and other topics inherent to the site allow for culture and place to affect design intentions. Egalitarianism is an aspiration as well as a potential set of protocols for the ethical development of urban spaces. Through the work of the faculty and students - interacting with communities of scholars and designers in Mexico City - these projects represent significant insights into how egalitarian places may come into being using urban design.



Where the Flowers Grow El Hadi Jazairy

Xochimilco, is a special place. One never knows who or what may drift by over the waters of the city -- wedding parties, teenage lovers on the floor of a gondola, old lovers re-creating the scene of a first date, tour groups, Mexicans, tourists, photographers, flower sellers, merchants, musicians, singers, animal handlers and perhaps, even the ghosts of Frida Kahlo and Diego Riviera.

and the Metropolis, the studio investigates the story of the last rural enclave in Mexico City, where still, a strong link to the inhabitants’ lacustrine past can be found. The studio addresses the challenges and difficulties that Xochimilco has confronted throughout its history, especially after being abruptly incorporated to the expansion process of the megalopolis, as the main water supplier.

Xochimilco was built long before Columbus came to "the New World" and changed it forever. Then, the indigenous people of the area built floating gardens out of rafts piled with mud and branches that took root in the bottom of a large lake. These floating gardens or little islands came to be known as chinampas. They grew flowers and crops on them and shipped them via canals to the rest of the city. Over centuries of depletion and dilapidation, most of these canals and chinampas have disappeared under the pressure of urbanization.

Based on research and analysis of the past and present, the studio proposes alternative scenarios to highlight some qualities that this territory possesses to improve the current relationship between inhabitants and water. At the same time it speculates on possible future urban worlds to generate a platform for discussion about the problematic of water and the process of urbanization in the city.

Today, both tourists and locals visit the site on beautiful, colorful, gondola-like boats called trajineras that are given women's names and painted with flowers. The trajineras are steered by men with long poles who push them up and down the canals. Mariachi and maramba bands hop from boat to boat to perform a few songs for riders; small children and old men and women drift along on small rafts selling flowers, tacos, tortillas and sweets and offering to take photographs of riders with ponchos, sombreros, and flowers. Often described as ‘Venice of the New World’ twenty kilometers from Mexico City and a World Heritage Site designated in 1987, the city is currently threatened with removal from the list because of the impacts of pollution, erosion, and urban sprawl. Xochimilco means 'place where the flowers grow' in the indigenous Aztec language of Nahuatl and is the last surviving vestige of a preHispanic form of human settlement that is being slowly taken over by urban sprawl. The task of looking ahead at Xochimilco’s ecosystem is an opportunity to explore possible new ways of envisioning relationships between archeology, ecology and urbanization. As the first installment of the Michigan/Mellon Project on Egalitarianism


The city of Xochimilco, now a borough of the District Federal is an agglomeration of lower middle class neighborhoods, densely packed green housing, a fine network of canals, and agricultural lands in transition towards urbanization. The area formerly covered over 400 square kilometers of lacustrine, but is now drained out of almost all its water reserves. The little that remains of this cultural and historic symbol of Mexico, is now protected and preserved as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. However, by virtue of its position as a physical entrance into the main city and its environment of beautiful canals lined by Juniper trees and vast flowering agriculture lands, Xochimilco has been facing mass immigration from other parts of the city in the last 25 years, beyond its sustaining capacity.

1. Archeological Compounds In this first step, the students were asked to select a topic to investigate in the context of Xochimilco, and propose a series of original mappings. The five issues investigated are the following: 01. Reserves and Reservations 02. Production Zones 03. Logistic Zones 04. Liminal Zones 05. Settlements Spaces 2. One Square Mile Test Project

The canals once used for transportation and economic value creation supporting social and cultural life, have depleted to an extent where they are unable to support native wildlife and species. Air and Water pollution are increasing threats today. Greenhouses have taken over the chinampas. Creating a highly unsustainable environment, the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of Xochimilco is fast declining. In this situation, the city also faces the added threat of losing its title as a World Heritage Site, officially. The objective of the studio is to investigate the relationships between archeology, ecology and urbanization across scales, looking in particular at the ecological reserve, the compound, the city, and larger geographies. The studio engages the geographic condition as a site of inquiry and intervention and challenges students to develop archeological compound strategies that investigate the role, nature and agency of design in this context. What are the urban and architectural and urban strategies to frame the relations of reserve, compound, city, and geography? The studio proposes alternative development scenarios for Xochimilco. The students will work in teams of two to conduct five discrete investigations. The first two will focus on site configurations. The next two steps will consist on the elaboration of a position and a strategy at the urban scale. The fifth will focus on the coordination of the different proposals into a comprehensive vision for Xochimilco’s future.


The students developed their vision for a one square mile part of the site and translated it into a spatial organization 3. Scenario Plan The students elaborated a comprehensive vision for the future of Xochimilco 4. Urban Design Project The students proposed an Urban Design project. 5. Comprehensive Vision The students coordinated the different proposals into a comprehensive vision.

Chinampa/Chinampas: Chinampa is a method of Mesoamerican agriculture which used small, rectangular areas of fertile arable land to grow crops on the shallow lake beds in the Valley of Mexico. They were used by the Aztecs and are sometimes referred to as "floating gardens". They were artificial islands that usually measured roughly 98 ft * 8.2 ft (29.9 m * 2.5 m), created by staking out the shallow lake bed and then fencing in the rectangle with wattle. The fenced-off area was then layered with mud, lake sediment and decaying vegetation, eventually bringing it above the level of the lake. Often trees such as āhuexōtl (a willow) and āhuēhuētl (a cypress) were planted at the corners to secure the chinampa. Chinampas were separated by channels wide enough for a canoe to pass. These "islands" had very high crop yields with up to 7 harvests a year. Chinampas were commonly used in pre-colonial Mexico and Central America. Trajineras: Today, as in the past, a large number of small, non-motorized boats and barges float on the waters of the canals. Earlier, these boats were mostly used for the transport of goods, but today, they are almost exclusively used for tourism. Tianguis: Tianguis are large open air markets or bazaars that are traditionally held on certain market days in a town or city neighborhood in Mexico and Central America. This bazaar tradition has its roots well into the preHispanic period and continues in many cases essentially unchanged into the present day. In rural areas, many traditional types of merchandise are still sold such as agriculture supplies and products as well as modern, mass-produced goods. In the cities, mass-produced goods are mostly sold, but the organization of tianguis events is mostly the same.


The Nahua Aztec or Mexica tribe established Mexico City in 1325. It was originally located on a small island but because of its rapid growth, the city was forced to build artificial islands and a series of canals to absorb the growth of the metropolis. Before getting independence in the early 19th century, the city was under Spanish rule for three centuries.





4 1. Mexico City in the Aztec period 2. Viga canal in history

3. Temple district of Tenochtitlan

4. Chinampas as the main farming method


5. Aztecs



8 Xochimilco, which in Náhuatl means “where flowers grow”, is defined by a series of water canals that existed since pre-Hispanic times when lakes and lagoons made up almost the entire Valley of Mexico and disappeared with the passing of time.



11 6. Zocalo Cathedral built in colonial era 7. The Battle of Mexico City

8. Altarpiece of Independence by Juan O'Gorman 9. Revolution

10. Viga canal in history

11. Partido Revolucionario Institucional





In 1810 Mexico became an independent nation. However, by 1876 dictator Porfirio Diaz came to power and instilled plans to urbanize Mexico City and draw global attention to Mexico. The effort to centralize power and economy in this region has inevitability led to massive urbanization with millions of people and buildings.


5 1. Angel Monumento a la Independencia 2. Modern institutions 3. Trajineras

4. Santa Fe - major business district


5. Tourism


7 Urbanization brings economic beneftis to the local people, while also threatening the ecological system and culture of Xochimilco, which makes this place diverse and complicated.



10 6. Los Manantiales - modern commercial building 7. Urbanization at the edge of the city

10. Diverse typologies of housing near monuments

8. Diverse professions due to tourism 9. Tourism in the world heritage area






The destruction of natural resources to create more space for housing and people has led to pollution, overpopulation, congestion and multiple water issues such as floods. One of the major problems that Mexico City is now facing is that the region is sinking! Also, poverty and inequality breed crime which, leads to the formation of gated communites.



6 1. Urban sprawl

5. Unused trajineras

3. Untreated waste

7. Illegal trade

2. Air pollution

4. Water pollution in Xochimilco


6. Home gated lifestyle

8 “None of the plans to rescue Xochimilco has worked because they do not address the fundamental problem: there is tremendous 2 demand for land in Mexico City, and farmers (chinamperos) need to sell land that is no longer productive in order to gain value from it.� (Rescate Intergral de Xochimilco 2002).




12 8. Uniform public housing

9. Children without education 10. Traffic congestion 11. Untreated waste

13 12. The isolation of the poor and the rich 13. Informal settlements in chinampas







2. Air pollution 3. Metrobus 4. Light rail


6 5. Biking sharing system 6. Pesero (jitney)




Car growth is above 5 per cent per year, and there are big mobility problems. There are people travelling three hours each way from home to work. Xochimilco is a 90 minute ride by the light train. It is the last stop and it requires multiple multiple modes of transportation to reach it.


11 7. Green corridor in Santa Fe

8. Library building in Mexico City University 9. Public Library

10. School in the public market


11. Soumaya Museum for free

13. Tianguis near the public market




3 Public markets and tianguis are crucial to Mexicans, especially in the urban areas which lack fundamental facilities. In rural areas, many traditional types of merchandise are still sold, such as agriculture supplies and products as well as modern, mass-produced goods. In the cities, mass-produced goods are mostly sold.


5 1. Book market in the historic center 2. Tianguis

3. Supermarkets 4. Chinampas


5. Flower trading in Xochimilco



Since the pre-Hispanic period, Xochimilco’s economy has traditionally been based on agriculture, mostly by supplying to the needs of Mexico City. Agriculture still remains important in the borough, but most of the focus has shifted to flowers and ornamental plants.

7 After agriculture, the most visible economic activity is tourism, which is considered part of commerce and services. The canals, chinampas and trajineras are the main tourist attractions.



10 6. Tianguis in the sidewalk 7. Flower prodction

10. Tianguis in the main road

8. Livestock in chinampas

9. Tianguis in the historic center


While many chinampas have depleted and become residences and businesses, the remaining are part of the Xochimilco World Heritage Site. These are mostly used as nurseries, growing ornamental plants such as bougainvilleas, cactuses, dahlias, day lilies and bonsai. They can produce up to eight times the amount of conventional land, so they are still considered an important part of the agricultural production. There have been various attempts to save the chinampas, including their cataloguing by UNESCO, UAM and INAH in 2005 and various reforestation efforts, especially of juniper trees.

Communal Wildlife Conservancies, Namibia 27 Green Plan, Philadelphia 28 Taizhong Gateway Project, Taiwan 29 Back Bay Fens, Boston 30 Findhorn Ecovillage, Scotland 31 Grand Pre, Canada 32 Central Park, New York 33


Shaxi,China 25 Whakarewarewa, New Zealand 26










With respect to the proposed scenarios within Xochimilco, certain precedent studies were researched in order to inform the proposals. This involves certain world heritage sites, culturally significant geographies, areas under natural and environmental threat, areas that have been restored and protected from potential dangers and the like. These precedent studies conform and corroborate to the ideas and inspirations behind each proposal that has been explored to add more robustness and practicality to the critical imaginations.





1. Courtyard and theatre temple architecture 2. Location of Shaxi 3. Shibaoshan grottoes

Date of realization - 2002 Surface area – 500000sqt Programs – rebuilding, sustainable tourism, ecological conservation, cultural preservation Investors – World Monuments Fund, Swiss government Concept – Cultural Landscape





1. Urban Agriculture is taken as initiative for native food scarcity 2. Tourism and Preservation trail 3. Preserved site showcasing mud pools and hot geysers


Date of realization - 1800 Surface area - -- qsft Program – Tourism, research, urban farming, ecological preservation, cultural conservation Investors – Rotorua Sustainable Tourism Charter, Govt. of New Zealand, Qualmark Concept – Preservation of Cultural Community and Ecological Lands





1. Balance between tourism and ecology due to wild life 2. Typical local life is preserved by tourism 3. The effective locations 4. Living with nature

Date of realization - 1996 Surface area – 140321m2 Programs – Traditional villages, Community campsites, Safari and trophy hunting, Sale of crafts, Community forests Investors – local communities, Govt., NGO’s, private sector partners Concept – Communal Conservancy a picnic on Box Hill seem universal.





1. Existing open space system 2. Proposed green corridor 3. Proposed urban farming and sustainable community


Date of realization - 2015 Surface area – 141.6 sq mi Programs – green roofs, bio-swales, permeable pavements, green streets, trails, green ways Investors – neighbourhoods, Federal and State govt., natural reserves, zoos, schools, private sector Concept - Green links through communities Box Hill seem universal.




1. Site plan showing the gateway project landmarks integrated by parks 2. Bird's eye view showing friction between urban layers 3. Socio-cultural land- integrates movement, programs and ecology

Date of realization - 2004 Surface area – 27,007,200 sq. feet Programs – community and cultural Investors – Neighbourhoods, Federal and State Government





1. Landscape urbanism 2. Habitats and species conserved 3. Recreation space


Date of realization - 1879 Surface area – 115 acres Program – Basketball Courts, Running Track, Community Gardens, Mother’s Rest Playground, walking / biking trails Investors – Colleges of Fenway, Fenway Alliance, Fenway CDC, Fenway Garden society, Boston Parks and recreation Department. Concept – Water remediation and landscape conservation





1. The beginning of Findhorn Foundation 2. The green roof of a typical building 3. Water treatment system for black and grey water 4. Passive energy saving - heat exchange system

Date of realization - 1962 Surface area - -- square feet Program – Tourism, research, urban farming, ecological preservation, cultural conservation Investors - Findhorn Foundation, New Findhorn Directions Lt, independent charities, independent practitioners and community bodies. Concept - New Frontiers for Sustainability






1. Salt marshes at Grand Pré 2. World heritage site and buffer zone 3. Historic Sites and Monuments 4. Farmers use modern equipment


Date of realization - 2012 Surface area – 7,188 ha Programs – Marshlands, Communities of villages, Hydraulic system, Memorial buildings and monuments Investors – Federal Parks Canada, Grand Pré Marsh Body, Stewardship Board and its personnel, Société Promotion Grand Pré Concept – Cultural landscape preservation

1 3



1. Map of Central Park from 18752. 2. Recreational activities in central park 3. Arial view of Central Park 4. Central Park boundary

Date of realization - 1873 Surface area - 843 Acres Programs – recreation, skiing, horse riding, museums, lakes, ecological forest Investors – Local Government, private organizations, Central Park Conservancy Concept - Urbanization works with eco-park


In addition to species that live in the area year round, the wetlands of Xochimilco host about 40% of the migratory bird species that arrive to Mexico. Roughly 350 use the wet areas around Xochimilco for nesting. Many of these come from the United States and Canada. However, much of this habitat has been urbanized. About 700 species have been found in the area overall. Some of the migratory species include pelicans, storks, buzzards and falcons.

Aaron Weller 38


Carla Maria Kayanan 36

Carla Maria Kayanan PhD University of Michigan

1. In your understanding, what did or do you think are the critical issues facing the city and the country today? And moreover, what has been the impact of globalization on Mexico City? As I am not a continuous resident of Mexico City I am not much aware of the total reality of current scenario. It’s a large country and has great water shortage. Mexico struggles with lot of power dynamics like NAFTA trade agreements which eradicated local economies. Mexico is not a poor country. There are enough natural resources, cultural ethnicities and economic values. Although I cannot give you too many specifics but according to me the city is divided in very poor areas and very rich areas such as Bedregal. So there is an inconsistent segregation in the city. Globalization is an easy answer for the rising economy of Mexico City. But it’s a problem of corruption and many other factors affecting the degrading economy.

2. How and how much has Mexico City changed over the last five or ten years? Do you think there has been any change in the general lifestyle of people over this time? It has changed a lot through the years. I used to go back every 2 years. My image of Mexico is more like a cultural experience. There were insertions of Walmart, Burger King etc. in my neighbourhood. These new insertions are now happening places. The large mercados had a great impact on local life but later the new global markets made these local mercados hidden in the public life.

3. What is the relationship between Mexico City and Xochimilco, considering that Xochimilco is part of the “DF"? What does Xochimilco mean to Mexico City? And how has it transformed over time, from being a separate city to now being a part of the city, but a different zone? Is there any “general attitude” or a “general perspective” about Xochimilco that you can imagine a person from the city would have? I cannot answer this from Mexican citizen point of view. But regarding areas like Xochimilco, being heritage and agricultural production centers, it’s the concern of people of the city to make housing more relevant or make agricultural more visible. Keeping Xochimilco as authentic as before


is the most positioned idea. But only the people who live in that are know the situation the best. I have been to Xochimilco, been on trajinera with beautiful Mariachis and exchanging food. It’s a beautiful experience. But my perception of Xochimilco was more of a touristic or a getaway relaxing area in the city. Being a Mexican citizen it is a place to take any new family member to show the place as a tourist. I worked in Mexico for a year, the organization there used to hold parties there. So it’s more of a place for leisure. That way at times, the reality is is sidelined about the depletion of the area although it is very evident when you go there. But because it is more of a tourist spot, this aspect of it is lost.

4. Belonging to the city itself, what in your opinion, is special about Mexico City? What really “makes” Mexico City? Once you starting living anywhere and getting to know any place ,you start adapting. Comparing my life to in the United States and Europe to Mexico City would be difficult as all my experiences have been different. Mexico City is cosmopolitan like any other cosmopolitan city. I love Mexico city’s transportation system because it is more lax and not so regulated. Its surely not a safe system, but more effective. You can get anywhere in the city for few cents. Smug, transportation and poverty are most stark to me. But with the city being so large and vast, there are bound to be different visions for different parts of it which may not always be the same for all spaces.


Aaron Weller M.Arch, Designer, Organization for Permanent Modernity

Xo c h i m i l c o g r o u p ( X O ) : Yo u s p e n t t w o ye a r s l i v i n g i n M e x i c o. In yo u r understanding, what did or do you think are the critical issues facing the city and the country today? And moreover, what has been the impact of globalization on Mexico City? Aaron (A): An issue that confronts everyone daily is “inequity”. For me, this is a critical issue - you could call it the need to redistribute wealth, how economies are unevenly translated, or how the city is very much, an unequal location. I think Mexico is extremely divided in terms of economic differences. Now, I should preface this by saying that I love Mexico City. The culture is deep, the food is rich, the city is madness, there are many many positive human conditions. But since you ask me to be critical, then I would say an extremely important issue is how wealth is distributed throughout society. I think to address the issue requires more than taking on financial poverty, or building a stronger economic foundation. For me, it is more important to question how inequality is playing out spatially. When you travel in any part of Mexico City you can see how inequity translates physically even in small microcosms – at street intersections, on the metro or in public spaces it is very apparent, for example. Also at a larger scale, the way different neighborhoods are constructed and isolated or how people move around the city. For example, there are three different bus lines, with different classes, not too mention all the means by which the upper classes by pass the bus system all together. For me, this is interesting as an outsider living there and not accustomed. I noticed an almost Simmel-like “blase” attitude towards this issue, meaning that inequality is so easily accepted and understood as if natural. Inequality is a huge and difficult thing to alter that citizens accept it as if it were normal. We could dissect this certain hierarchy built in to the history of Mexico in terms of different structures that have been socially constructed over time, in terms of family or inheritance, and it is a colonial city, religious righteousness also plays a part. There are many narratives we could trace. But even today, in day to day interactions, inequity needs direct confrontation.

XO: David Lida writes in his book titled, First Stop in the New World: Mexico City, The Capital of the 21st Century, “More than half of the population is living in cities today, and most of these cities are not neat and ordered like Paris and London. They are more chaos and spread over, like Mexico City.” What is your take on this statement? And specifically the stark


comparison of Mexico City with London or Paris? Do you feel they are comparable?

actors get involved in decisions regarding public spaces?

A: In a way I understand the statement and the perspective. However, I do not fully agree that Paris and London are exactly neat and ordered, and I do not necessarily agree that Mexico City does not have its own order in certain areas. Instead of contrasting and generalizing them across the spectrum, I will argue that there are certain aspects of all three of these cities, that are neat, orderly, chaotic and spread over, depending upon location and time.

A: If we just take the definition of NGO as entities organized, not capital companies, and that are not necessarily related to government, well, actually I might just call these community organizations. I really did not come into much contact with an organization that proclaimed itself to be an NGO, but well, I guess now that I think about it, many community and neighborhood organizations I interacted were indeed NGOs.

For example, there are spaces in Mexico City that are very clean, very ordered, like Zocalo or even in the market places. When you go in the marketplace, there is a certain dirtiness under the shed, just because of the nature of the products: flower petals, cow heads, loud reggaetone music. But at the same time, it is extremely well organized. The complexity of the logistics inside these markets is incredibly rational in a way. Just look at how they function - with the kinds of exchange that occur, and how could these markets be so efficient and populous if they were not rational systems recognizable by people, how would they buy and sells goods. So I might say that Mexico City in totality, when you look at it in a bird’s eye view, with all the layers turned on has this chaotic feel to it, because the city is just dynamic in many ways. But I would reiterate here that there is an order to this dynamism. Furthermore, I believe there is one thing that is similar to all of these cities, worth highlighting, which is that they all have their zones which includes zones of exclusion and inclusion- zones where the city is very clean and very secure and other zones that are less so. These boundaries, borders, sometimes implicit that define different areas in these terms, I think, is common to London, Paris, Mexico City, etc. For me the interesting question is not the binary, but trying to understand where are these places, and what are the reasons for these borders. It’s often a spatial question but the spatial divide can translate to a much larger picture of society. Also I would say that there is a temporal order or rhythm with these cities that you could look across and see more similarities. At some times of the day, the city is more chaotic than other times of the day. Even in a city like Detroit, when there is a baseball game or there is an event in downtown, the city is swept clean. The police is out and making sure everything is well managed. And when the event is over, the same space will be filled with rubbish and can be feel chaotic. So it’s not just a spatial comparison of these cities and the way they are zoned but a temporal order as well.

XO: What is the state of public spaces through the city today? Do you think they have evolved or grown over time? How do non-governmental agencies and other

The reason must be that there isn’t always a large governmental presence. One consequence is that neighborhood and communities really take ownership in the public or shared spaces in the city. This ownership could be by an NGO as you are describing, or, in my understanding the ownership is taken simply by the people who occupy these spaces. In Mexico, people who use public space on a daily basis really take care of these spaces, for no better reason than the fact that in many instances it’s been made clear that there is no larger government authority maintaining the space. It seems in large part why organizations or self-structures might arise as a way to manage and maintain public spaces. This autonomy is certainly a strong force in many neighborhoods. Many such places that I experienced are newer settlements on the outskirts of Mexican cities or in rural locations, where government does not provide infrastructure. So these are the kind of NGOs or just community organizations, that figure out solutions to basic needs. You can call them NGOs but it is to me more or less community organizations that grow out of a requirement to provide a basic need or determine a functional way to share a common ground.

XO: Water pollution and air pollution have been very high on the scale in Mexico City, and have been steadily increasing over the last few years. The city is still struggling to cope with some of these environmental issues. What are the obstacles that are preventing the Government from taking care and keeping check over them? A: I think water, air and other environmental issues are transcendental issues, larger scale, and cannot be managed or controlled by a single community or single neighborhood. It requires a large orchestration, a regional outlook. The city in my experience has dealt with it in isolated moments which are directly related to the desire to prosper in economic terms.


For instance, the main freeway that cuts through the city is placed in this way because it connected the once advantageous nodes to one another, and perpetuating an advantage as the city grew over time. In other words, the decision as to how to make these larger orchestrated efforts in the city is highly politically driven and economically motivated. If water issues hinders economic growth in a particular place then that water will be treated. At the same time, the city is also growing and expanding, in an arguably unsustainable way, and it is hard for any government to tame or regulate it. Let's say even if the government or some other regional governing body had good intention, and wasn’t motivating by capital and power, it would still be an incredible challenge to resolve the environmental issues that you mention concerning the city. People are trying to engage these issues, and trying to make a coordinated effort, but it is a very challenging issue, even if you have all the resources. There has to be a shift in thinking with regards to growth and expansion. Growth and expansion cannot be the single largest variable for economic success. I mean, we know how to recycle, right, why can’t that be an economic model.

XO: During our visit to Xochimilco, we observed that it served as a particular junction: as a gate to enter Mexico City, and as a gate for immigrants from other cities to access Mexico City DF. How do you think Xochimilco is positioned today with respect to the rest of the DF? And in your observation, what are the particular suburban settlements in relation to the main Mexico City currently? A: I would agree that it’s one critical location especially at the edge. But it is not the only one location that has this kind of interesting collision between a rich historical past and a new immigrant future and all the issues that sprawl and growth have unleashed. However, I would widen your perspective. One way to deal with Xochimilco is to look at the other “gates” at the fringe of Mexico City that are similar to Xochimilco. What are the common struggles at these other gates. I lived in two cities in Mexico, both had a close relation to Mexico City. Morelia and Queretaro, both capital cities, but really a kind of staging ground for Mexico City. Mexico City is a central hub for culture, economy and logistics. Xochimilco is on the South, and on the North there is another gateway. If I was arriving from Queretaro or Morelia,


I would always arrive from the north. I am not sure if the North can compare to Xochimilco’s heritage value, how this edge of Lake Texcoco can be preserved, however, the North, and also the east and west all have their entrances to the city. When you arrive to Mexico city you come by bus or train or air, these stations the moments of arrival are really the gates. Coming in off the hills that surround the valley of Mexico City, you enter into one of these transportation nodes and from there you may filter into your destination. There are other immigrants’ neighborhoods that also cater to this migration, more than just the southern edge. Having said this, an architectural project could be, how you make these entrances into a more legible form, beyond a simply multi-modal transit center. Something that accounts for, or addressing also the environmental and social justice that come to mind with respect to water and immigrant communities.

XO: On a more personal note, what is your favorite project or special moment in Mexico City? Would you mind to share with us, some images you have of the city to include in our book? A: There are so many interesting things. Whenever I went to Mexico City it was either for a conference or looking at some site close by or just to soak in, experience the mania. Most often I was a tourist in many ways, visiting the lively neighborhoods and trying to understand their qualities and artifacts. Of those there are hundreds of moments I can share. Sometimes, I think I am a diplomat when I begin to share experiences. I love telling the story of the temple mayor and the largest cathedral in the Americas, how the stones are literally the same. Many people do not realize that Mexico City is built on top of an Aztec capital. Because of this archaeology, the city is extremely fascinating. One more thing, in addition to this layering of history, it’s very fascinating to see the city in its everyday temporality. It is very interesting to observe in the early hours the city as it set itself up, seeing different character come together, like the police man on the corner, the first cart to establish his footing, the bus full of tourists. After a few hours of this calm awakening you have a quintessential Mexico City full of people running in all directions. But during these early hours of the day, and even at night I presume, there is a simplicity or calm to the city, that’s certainly other to two o’clock in the underground metro.



Some of the endemic species include the Montezuma frog and a freshwater shrimp called Acocil. However, the most representative animal from these waters is the AXOLOTL. This amphibian was used as medicine, food and also a ceremonial object during the Aztec empire. It was considered to be an incarnation of the god Xolotl, brother of Quetzalcoatl. It has been studied due to its abilities to regenerate limbs and other body parts. It can reach sexual maturity as a larva, which no other amphibian can do. While mostly aquatic, it has limited ability to breathe air. As of 2003, there were only 600 axolotls known to exist in the wild.

Liminal Spaces 92 Settlement Spaces 128 Reserves and Reservations 158


Production and Logistics 44

Production and Logistics

Mexico City & Xochimilco Overlay with Lake Texcoco



Production Modes Changes Through Time



Urban Encroachment and Market Locations



Ecological Succession Over Time



Landscape as Infrastructure Infrastructure as Landscape

Declaring Xochimilco a World Heritage site has not borne any positive result for preserving the special agricultural system of chinampas. Statistically, the agricultural land decreased from 788 hectares to 262 hectares from 1989 to 2006; more than 20 species of vegetables are no longer suitable to grow on chinampas, whereas greenhouses, which is not sustainable, brings more profit and saves more labor has become a major production type in Xochimilco; Moreover, more than 40% of local residents choose to abandon farming and have urban jobs instead, which lead to a less engaged neighborhood. This indicates that production and logistics in Xochimilco are impacted primarily by three factors: environmental pollution, economic concerns and lack of social engagement. The goal of this project is to use the least interventions and yet, create more change in this historically, self sustained community. Infrastructure and landscape are used as tools to generate their own categories of urban territory through which they can bring focus, create destinations, promote life qualities and make connections among communities together. By retrofitting new infrastructures and maintaining existing structures, the project intends to achieve a synthesis of water management, agricultural production and community life. The proposal involves putting together different typologies of infrastructure, water management tools and engagement methods under various conditions of the site that face environmental, social or economic challenges. For example,


the area between urbanized pockets and chinampas, is supported by trails, retention tanks and remediation tools to catch and recycle the daily waste discharged into the canals, by local residents. Furthermore, connecting these infrastructures and highlighting them in bright colors can help to lead daily commute, direct water and educate local residents. Eventually, a large system of landscape integrates each section of infrastructure and connects the entire region of Xochimilco at its water limit. This landscape is meant primarily, for the use of local residents, while also acting as a tourist trail system when required. So while the different parts of the infrastructure are connected as a large landscape system, the landscape itself is the infrastructure that functions ecologically, economically and socially for the city, In this way, the project addressed and explores the relationship of infrastructure, landscape and urban design.

To fulfill the needs of portable water in Mexico City,

19% of total supplyof water from the Cutzamala River in the Balsas basin 6% from well fields in the upper basin of the Lerma River



788 ha (7.4%)

262 ha (2.5%)

1322 ha (12.4%)

661 ha (6.2%)

Conventional agriculture in transition

202 ha (1.9%)

381 ha (3.6%)

Conventional agriculture

2604 ha (24.4%)

1364 ha (12.8%)

121 ha (1.1%)

480 ha (4.5%)

Greenhouse agriculture

2 ha (0%)

244 ha (2.3%)

Chinampa in transition

131 ha (1.2%)

653 ha (6.1%)

Scrub and grassland

516 ha (4.8%)

519 ha (4.9%)

Chinampas agriculture Wetlands

Secondary forest

Urban Area

4984 ha

Chinampas agriculture

6107 ha Greenhouse


Strategy Programs

Infrastructure typologies


What about using the least amount of effort to make the greatest impact?




Water Local Infrastructure management engagement





Water management tools

Local engagement


Gathering space

Grey water treatment



Transit use

Constructed Wetland

Production use

Plant remediation

Recreational use


Market and rest

The project is based on the recognition of the liveliness and vibrancy of the neighborhood. Xochimilco is a neighborhood with a rich history and selfsustained food system, the issue that Xochimilco is facing is because the lackage of infrastructure and water management system. Using the least impact by building water management infrastructures, the design proposal will change the way people deal with waste water. And by connecting the infrastructures all together, the trail system in a whole will become a landscape buffer.


Infrastructure of bench and water pipe within historic center

Market shed with water management infrastructure in market corridors

Trail system integrating with water treatment plant in areas containing illegal settlements

Viewing trails integrating with wetland support the fishing and aqua culture industry




urban w


eco parks

Xochimilco Ecological Park Agriculture land


Universidad Marista

Water Town Aqua agriculture + wetland

Historic Center


Chinampas Preservation lan







Axonmetric Drawing The project lays a framework of stabilizing the edge through insertion of new functions with new infrastructures. The new building typologies initiate this idea of formalizing the edge and revitalizing the corridor, which retrofit firmly in the local context. This formalization helps later in preservation of the heritage land and the historic character of chinampas. This part acts as a start in growing as a full comprehensive plan in later stages.


View from Research Center



Urban Edge

Lines of control are essential between different different territories in order to keep their identities and functions intact. Such lines are especially required to demarcate special territories preserved lands or heritage sites to keep them unharmed and ecology safeguarded. Xochimilco is one such site which needs lines of control to keep away increasing urbanization from the south of Mexico City. The city requires these regularized lines to protect itself from further distortion. This project describes 3 lines of control in creating an Urban Green Belt. Urban and experimental agriculture would further help the residents of


Xochimilco to depend on Chinampa agriculture and supported activities. Increasing and structuring water would create an edge and new vision on water front development with the purpose of aquaculture. Finally, development of new urban cultural communities would turn out to be a platform for Xochimilco to preserve its historic culture. Thus, agriculture, flooding and cultural communities form a regularized edge for preserving Xochimilco as heritage site.


Master Plan - Urban Edge




Experimental Farming and Urban Agriculture

Existing Chinampas

Aqua Edge and Water Expansion

Cultural Communities


Axonmetric View



View from Harbour Line and Big Public Area Serving the Local Vendors



View from Residences Designed for the New High End Community



Aquifer Production "Landscape of Urban Agriculture"


Xochimilco has a strong rural charachter with barren agriculture landscape interspursed with natural wetland systems that have been currently degraded and non-functional. The project capitalizes on these elements and investigating the multiple spatial funtion these elemnts can out play to create a new language. This new language is a mixture of urbanism and agriculture having a symbiotic relationship with an addition of low technology that shall help in unwinding and optimizing the potential that the land witholds. Main focus of design is on water remediation as water being the main source for production , and the main element in transforming this landscape and making it more productive. A system of water remediation spreads across the region, beginign with a small water tower at the neighborhood scale to large wetlands and pure water ponds at regional level, generating production houses for diffrent types of crops at diffrent water purification steps. Insetrions of low tech urban infrastructure along the new extended canal like packaging centers, markets, training centers, experimental farms and new housing communities shall be the main value addition to the landscaspe, forming a new agriculture center. The design speculates to not only bring back the lost economy of the region and make it more sustainable against the increasing urban sprawl but also bringing back its lost legacy of Chinampa agricutlture and restore back the ecology of Xochimilco and its title of being Heritage.



Combinations and derivations

Physical and functional behavioral relations


Different Elements within Rural Landscape



Master Plan



Axonometric View



Connector - Infrastrcuture





Market - Urban Center Markets act as urban centers when placed next to a highly productive land. They not only add values but are main infrastrcutres to engage people and community. They act as primary distribution centers and points of sources for economy and exchange of culture. Markets act as this main collector and magnet not only for goods but also other activities like researchers and experimenters. Different massing in the market helps achieve varying type of hierarchy that define the hiearchy of circulation and products sold.

Ancillary Production Center


Experimental Farming

Training Center

Packaging Centers


Remediation Water: Neighborhood

Remediation towers interspursed at junction of neighborhood and the canal help in immediate filteration of water . At the scale of the whole water system they mark the first step of filteration in the process bbefore the water flows out to the canal and towards the wetlands. They stand as representatives of use of low technology that enhance comunity living and provide basic infrastrcuture for purification of water. At a neighborhod scale and due to its tall standing they act as watch towers and gathering space for people, adding an aspect of recreation in the communtiy.

Remediation Landscape Urbanization

Clean water reserves


Wet Lands

Water tower

Public Spaces

Water Tower

Step 1

Step 3 Pure water reserve


Liminal Spaces ahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgd-

Injhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjh anthropology, liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that ahdhasdjghgadjjhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhaj occurs in the middle stage of rituals, when participants no longer hold djhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdj their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status hagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjha they will hold when the ritual is complete.Liminality is in the in-between gsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhags state that no longer holds its old status, but has also not yet begun djhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahj the transition to the new status completely. During the liminal stage, it stands at the threshold. One primary characteristic of liminality is that ahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjh there is a way in as well as a way out. ahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhah

dhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdhasdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahjahgdjhahdh During liminal periods, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily asdjghgadjhajdjhagsdjhgsajhgajdhgjahgdsjgsahj dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to generate. The term has now passed into popular usage, where it is applied much more broadly, undermining its significance to some extent

From Anthropology aspect, there are two World Heritage Sites, Zocalo and Xochimilco in Mexico City DF. These two World Heritage Sites have World Heritage Property Zone and World Heritage Buffer Zone. From Ecology aspect, there are some water features and green zones in the city. From Urbanization aspect, we defined the liminal zone by urban density .



Xochimilco lies 28 km south of Mexico City. With its network of canals and artificial islands, it testifies to the efforts of the Aztec people to build a habitat in the midst of an unfavourable environment. Its characteristic urban and rural structures built since the 16th century and during the colonial period; have been preserved in an exceptional manner. The lacustrine landscape of Xochimilco, located 28 km south of the city, constitutes the only reminder of traditional Pre-Hispanic land-use in the lagoons of the Mexico City basin. In the midst of a network of small canals, on the edge of the residual lake of Xochimilco (the southern arm of the great drained lake of Texcoco), some chinampas or ‘floating’ gardens can still be found. Parts of this half-natural, half-artificial landscape are now an 'ecological reserve'. Change was and is an important part of the history of the two heritage areas. However, all of these changes have not affected their overall structure and functional integrity: the political, economic and religious centrality of the Historic Centre of Mexico City and the traditional system of agricultural production in Xochimilco. In both areas the past and the present are constantly and simultaneously visible. The latest archaeological finds at the Templo Mayor (the Aztec Main Temple) in the Historic Centre of Mexico City contribute further to the understanding of the pre-Hispanic city.




Function 96



Vision 98









TOWER 2 -- WATCHING TOWER View Watching View Watching

Lunch Location



Birds Reservation



Interlocked Landscapes


Legend World Heritage Property Primary World Heritage Buffer Second World Heritage Buffer Chinampas Urban Park Wetland Water Cleaning System Park Route


Buffer Zone Area

Urban Park

Wetland and Water Cleaning System


Travel Route


Buffer Zone Management

Increasing the density

Urban exercise

Urban Park Function

Waste Water

Aquatic Plant Purification

Soil Bio-filtration Heavy Metals Purification

Water Cleaning System Pathogens Purification

Grey Water

Stable Water Quality

Nutrient-rich Purification


Historically, Xochimilco is a city that has always functioned independently of Mexico City. The primary occupation of the local inhabitants of Xochimilco was agriculture based on the chinampas, whose produce of vegetables and flowers, would be transported to Mexico City to support basic life. In 1987, Xochimilco was declared a World Heritage site for this system of chinampas, from the Aztec era. However, rapid urbanization in Mexico City is gradually encroaching upon this World Heritage site, therefore hampering the entire regions including the chinampas, lakes and canals. I believe Mexico City and Xochimilco can interlock and work in tandem with each other, rather than functioning independently, because I believe Xochimilco can be merged as an affiliated part of Mexico City. I propose to recreate Xochimilco as an urban park for recreation and exercise, to support the urban life in Mexico City.

This concept can be actualized by four measures: 1. By increasing building density in the liminal zone that can stop more urbanization from encroaching into Xochimilco. 2. Developing a synthetic gesture in the liminal zone to define the urban area, that can attract higher density buildings and prevent urbanization from encroaching further into the site. 3. Using water as a gap to completely stop urbanization in areas of high conflict in this regard. 4. Exchanging some functions along the liminal zone can create interdepedency between the two cities, which currently function independent and separate of each other. Creating a mix of functions can help bring both cities to work coherently. Through these approaches, I intend to bring Mexico City and Xochimilco together and function with mutual interdependence, which can help benefit the entire Federal District region as a whole.

Synthetic Gestures


Primary School

Administration Center



Sports Center

Middle School


High density building on the boundary

Linear landscape on the boundary

Mixed use interventions


Urban Park

View from Building on the Boundary 113

View from Liminal Zone to see Xochimilco Landscape

Zocalo 114

View from Liminal Zone to see City Skyline

Xochimilco 115

In and Out of the World

Xochimilco, another realm of Mexico City D.F.


Xochimilco, located in the geographic center of the city, is within the southern marginal area of the urbanized Mexico City D.F. This design intends to bring back the natural and cultural memory as a habitat built by Aztec in a lake and remains to nowadays as the biggest open air water area in the megapolis. The concept is inspired by an old Chinese mythology named Peach Colony. Long time ago, a fisherman found a harmonious village hidden in a cave accidentally after he missed his road wondering in an amazing peach blossom. This story ended with the village disappearing again when the fisherman leads a group of people to find the harmonious basin. The story reminds me of the way people drifted down from Aztec to Xochimilco 200 years ago and even as late as 40 years ago.




Transportation Tourism Center Commercial and Retails Residential Institutional

Detailed Design Site Concept


Strengthen Social Resilience Beyond how to bring back its network of canals and artificial islands, this design tries to achieve the balance between tourism development and ecological reservation. From four different strategies, hydrology reversion, path generation, edge fixing and pocket catalysis, this concept integrates environmental and economic design to achieve a balance in development and reservation.


Settlements and Spaces

Land Use of Xochimilco in 1946


Nature Preserved Land

Urban Land

Conserved Land


Land Use of Xochimilco in 2006


Nature Preserved Land

Urban Land

Conserved Land


Xochimilco is a world heritage site area. The land use change is one of the main stress factor on ecosystem

Xochimilco is a managed wetland, in which

near urban area.

narrow canals surround land plots, called chinampas. This type of managed wetland is considered one of the most diverse and productive agriculture systems for cultivation for Due to which the area is facing an alarming rate of urbanization in 17 years ( 19892006). The land use/ land cover changed from wetland or agricultural to urban that occurs through transitional categories, including green house agriculture and abandoned agriculture land. This is affecting the cultural heritage.

Time Line of Land Use in Xochimilco


six centuries.

Declining water quality has reduced traditional agricultural activities, because chinampas rely on adequate water quality in the surrounding canals. And hence greenhouse came in development and so thus the urban growth.

Between 1900 and 2000 the population in central Mexico city, increased only 1.3% while the population at the periphery increased by 2.9%. The population in D.F alone is now more than 8 million people, with more than 20 million people living in Mexico city metropolitan area




The Vsion for Xochimilco is a Melange of Social, Eonomic and Cultural Elements of Heritage Value



An experimental perspective of green pockets in a densified urban land and the potential to in


nitiate equilibrium between urbanization, ecology and archaeology


Cultural Ecology Corridor

This project establishes an argument between issues of urbanization and hybrid land. A hybrid land is the outcome of friction between urbanization and conservation. The amalgamation of archeology, ecology and urban land creates a base to re-define the hybrid land in Xochimilco as a cultural ecology corridor that would act as a transition space between the diversities inherent in the city. The concept initiated with defining a new edge to safeguard the chinampas. However, acknowledging the benefits of urbanization with respect to economic development, the strategy focusses on creating an equilibrium between ecology and economy, both of which are integral to Xochimilco, while retaining its cultural essence. Hence, the proposal revolves around three ideas of intervention: 1. Redefinition of the edge/buffer 2. Creation of a transition nexus 3. Synthesis of ecology and economy The framework involves overlaying 4 corridors: ecological corridor, tourist corridor, knowledge corridor and settlements. Overlapping the four creates opportunities for socio-cultural transitions. Eventually, to realize the hybrid land as a cultural ecology land, the project also defines the new settlements’ typology and landscape infrastructure, forming relations between all corridors, while also making space for industries, art and culture as well as education.


Re-defining Buffer Zone as Hybrid Land

Creating a Transition Urban Nexus

Synthesizing Economy with Ecology


Master Plan - Cultural Ecology Corridor


The utopian vision of the buffer zone as hybrid land adapting the concept of Cultural Ecology while defining three distinct corridors : 1. Ecological corridor 2. Tourist corridor 3. Knowlegde corridor


Site Analysis

The map shows how urbanisation is occupying the heritage land

Xochimilco is a hub for tourism. The canal trail and chinampas are amongst the highest visited tourist destination

Conserved land The southern buffer zone of Xochimilco has several schools yet not everyone, has access to education.


Urbanisation Canals Tourist area Existing schools


Hybrid land

Ecological corridor

Tourist corridor

Knowlegde corridor

Settlements' spine


Analysis of Typology of Water Housing Plan



land occupancy










possible density

mixed use




Testing the Typology in Different Lines

Ecology corridor

Ecology corridor

Tourist corridor

Tourist corridor

Knowledge corridor Knowledge corridor Of all Austen’s heroines, Emma Woodhouse is the most beguilingly flawed; and naturally, beneath the comedy of disastrous match-making and snobbery, Oftheallnarrative Austen’shas heroines, Woodhouse is the most beguilingly and naturally, beneath of universal. disastrous match-making and snobbery, a keenEmma intelligence and finely wrought moral senseflawed; that makes even a picnic on the Boxcomedy Hill seem the narrative has a keen intelligence and finely wrought moral sense that makes even a picnic on Box Hill seem universal.


The axonometric of the settlement spine explains the way the two distinct areas are coexiting with each other. The co-habitation of urban context with conservation and ecology on the bioswales in the conserved land. The transition nexus : urban education centre acting as a landmark for education in the area



The project in the ecological and tourist corridor explores how urbanization can coexist within the ecological and archeological constraints in Xochimilco and how habitants can live and farm in the conservation area sustainably.



Framework of the Bio-swale as a Diverse Habitat



The axonometric of the settlement spine explains the way the two distinct areas coexist with each other, the co-habitation of urban context with conservation and ecology on the bioswales in the conserved land. The transition nexus : urban education centre acting as a landmark for education in the area.


Typology of the Housing Hexagon Type 1

Type 2

Programs in Institution Hexagon Neighborhood commitee + retail street + housing

Local market + retail street + housing

Type 3

School + playground + retail + housing

Type 4

Clinic + small market + retail + housing


Diversity of programs on the campus: the student centre is also a transit hub of the existing light rail system of Xochimilco. The building functions as an urban centre consisting of a public library, student recreational space and transist stop.



Framework of the Urban Education Campus


System of axis

System of parks

System of existing schools


Fragmentation of Neighborhoods

Student housing

Academic axis

Urban center


Reserves and Reservations




Mapping the entire region of Xochimilco helps to identify the different zones associated with the Protected property - the World Heritage Site, the legitimate Buffer zone and an exact measurement of what is included in both these zones and what is excluded. Understanding these boundaries and mapping the characteristics of the area, also helps understand the different forces acting towards Xochimilco. For instance, patterns of urbanization with respect to the buffer line, density of urbanization and built mass, the extent of the water reserves and green cover and their proportions to the whole heritage region, work towards identifying the and realising the heritage zone completely. Certain factors such as the above have affected the world heritage property largely - especially modifying it, encroaching it, destroying it or blurring it. This can work adversely towards Xochimilco and partially is, because it threatens the preserved lands. Based on these parameters, the UNESCO has shown an inclination towards declassifying Xochimilco from its list of protected Heritage Sites. The world heritage site has been heavily encroached upon as a result of rapid urbazation int he DF and mass migration of people from other parts of the country to the DF. Xochimilco serves as an entry point by virtue of its vast serves of barren lands. The buffer zone is carefully demarcated to include only certain parts of the city and exclude others. At some junctions, it even serves as a political boundary.


WORLD HERITAGE SITE : Cultural Landscapes Cultural properties that represent the "combined works of nature and of man"; Illustrative of the evolution of human society and settlement over time, under the influence of the physical constraints and opportunities presented by natural environment and of successive social, economic and cultural forces, both external and internal. Buffer Zone : Zona de Amortiguamiento Area surrounding the nominated property which has complementary legal restrictions on its use and development to give an added layer of protection to the property. Includes immediate setting of property, important views and other areas functionally important as a support to the property and its protection. Authority of Natural and Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Xochimilco, Tlahuac and Milpa Alta The site is being comprehensively analyzed in order to identify priority actions of management, conservation and regeneration of water from springs and canals, Chinampas zone recovery and land in areas adjacent to water bodies. PROBLEMS FACING PROTECTED SITE Illegal settlements; uncontrolled sprawl. Pollution: Garbage, waste; Filling canals for “new land�. Dispute between UNESCO and local Government Pumping of ground water Illegal Settlents Area: 450 hectares; Illegal population in Xochimilco: 90,000 33, 804 families illegal on Chinampas; Level of sinking/year of chinampas: 18 centimetre


Misleading Zone


Between the buffer zone, the position of world heritage site is becoming unclear. Sometimes the boundary is visible but also invisible. The world heritage site is threatened by the urbanization and it also blocks the urban development. The “misleading zone� is one way to clearify itselt and also create a new system to serve the community.


Division Conflicted Territories


The line of the buffer zone passes over Lake Chalco dividing not only the heritage, but also the waters of the Lake into parts - between Mexico City and the State of Mexico. My intervention is to create a second bridge above the Lake so as to confuse the exisiting boundary which is bride extended from the land. The proposed bridge creates space for aquaculture farming and agricultural farming in the parcels formed, where an artesian aquifer purifies the lake waters. The pure waters can then be stored in the volcanic crater of Xico, which lies in the State of Mexico. This proposal not only blurs the boundaries, but makes both political entities part of a water system that they were both historically part of.


Existing state of Xochimilco, its water reserves are disparate, urbanization is creeping in slowly on all sides and the mountains to the south form a hard edge.

Spaces of the Line The intent of an administrative boundary is usually very clear - a clear division of geographies, histories, culture and even urban positions. This division decides the direction for each city, its future and its trajectory of growth, as each part falls under different divisions, administrations and political entities. However, in conditions of fast urbanization, the boundaries are usually blurred in reality. There is chaos and smoothness, confusion and understanding where both sides work together. The lines of world heritage and buffer zone in Xochimilco are at times, guided by the administrative boundaries of the city.

I aim to identify the place in a way so as to strengthen the identity of the line of division that exists along the southern mountainous edge of Xochimilco, which could strongly tie the fragmented pieces divided around it, full of historical pocket spaces that shape the unique identity along the mountain. Recreation, agriculture, flower industries and well as historical and cultural memories are strung by the defined promenade that currently is the line of that which is Heritage and that which is not heritage. As a result, the line is not really a line, but a hotbed to accommodate and nurture memories and activities.

Xochimilco is a city of a different kind. While it is the most historic area of Mexico, there are characteristics that make it truly unique in the way it functions at an everyday level. Within the floating gardens, the canal replaces the function of the road in regular city, trajinera replaces the automobile; the eye-catching flower industry creates an economic and cultural paradise for Xochimilco. Therefore, the city has been classified as World Heritage Site. However, the boundaries defined for this protection create certain dichotomies that affect the city largely by their sheer division and disjunction into two sides, they prohibit the development of protected areas and also refuse tourists negatively. And when one actually walks in Xochimilco, the line of division is invisible and unclear. The ecological park supposed to be protected has turned into an area for piling garbage. The canals have dried and urbanization spreads sporadically like a virus. There is no understanding of what is protected and what is not. In my opinion, the Buffer Zone and World Heritage Site lack personality currently.

The proposal aims to create a bridge atop the buffer line that also integrates the Light Rail System into the whole line in order to make it more accessible and give new definition to the line. The infrastructure endows the line not just transportation, but also visibility. I propose a healthcare village in between two hills, since this site is close to a farmland, originally famous for medicinal plants. The village is surrounded by an existing church as a spiritual center. BY involving several other activities such as parks, open spaces and tianguis, the new proposal also becomes a way to increase the income of the locals. As a result, the big infrastructure plays a significant role to re-integrate the grid, and makes the line very rich.



Visixion to Transform the Buffer Line


Fragmented Condition

Blurring the Edge

Misleading the Boundary

Line Follows Topography

Soften The Edge

Building Identity

Isolated Condition

Introduce the Grid

Existing Direction

Built Infrastructure

New Buffer Line

Create Connectivity






Create Connectivity





Left Four moments of the Line Right Section of the Church area Bottom The Elevation of the entire Line

LRT System + Sports Yard + Amphi

Housing + Local Business + Community Center


Churc + Park & Sport + Tiangui

itheater + Walkway


ts Yard

Healthcare Center + Researh Farm





Water Urbanism in Xochimilco

This project delves into issues of adapting water from the resources of Xochimilco into present day use, while generating a new urban landscape for the city. Xochimilco, has been historically significant for its water reserves that supported agriculture and allied activities, allowing it to grow as a community based primarily on water. However, from a condition of beautiful trajineras and floating flower markets floating over lakes and canals, the current condition of Xohimilco is that of dilapidation, depletion and redundancy, while also having been simultaneously classified as a World Heritage Site. The water reserves are now reducing and subsequently affecting the agriculture and ecology of the city as a whole. This project deals with this particular aspect of the city and aims to not only renew and rejuvenate these reserves that still remain protected archaeological sites of the UNESCO, but also adapt them cohesively to the contemporary needs and demands of urbanization and ecology - two issues integral to Mexico City as a fast urbanizing city. This issue is dealt with using multiple methods based on specific conditions of the site – 1. A water system connecting all the exisitng reserves of water across the length of the city. This would allow more movement for water and the opportunities for smaller interventions along the chain to create spaces of pause. 2. Water purification: The topography of the site allows creation of two water basins. This is supported with a natural purification system by the downward slope and undulating


path of water, and mechanical purification techniques that would support the system of cleaning water. 3. Proposal of an Ecological Park around the basin of chinampas: This would give some protection to the chinampas and allow them to be more productive in an envirnoment that supports them. 4. Proposal for the crater Xico as a water reservoir for the entire city: Since the crater lies unused and right at the end of the water system proposed, all the purified water can eventually be stored in the crater and then used to serve both, Mexico City DF and the State of Mexico. This specifically also allows both the administrative cities to be part of a common system that the two states shared mutually through history. 5. A road through Lake Chalco, where the boundary of World Heritage and administrative division of Mexico City and the State of Mexico passes shall make an already unreal division, more blurred but more significant. As a boundary dividing the water of the two states, a third boundary (road) only makes the site not one, but multiple. This would allow for more aquaculture farming and agriculture, that the lake has potential for. 6. A Center for Research of Natural Sciences between Lake Chalco and Crater Xico, that would serve as an entry point into the entire network of water systems, as well as a transition between the urbanity and agriculture or ecology between Mexico City and the State of Mexico. This water system can benefit both, Mexico City and the State of Mexico, while repositioning Xochimilco beyond its current identity as a protected site.

Historical condition of a city on lakes


Current situation

Existing condition of heritage zones




Vision for water network


Existing topography

Proposed ideas

Proposed ideas


Vision- To reposition Xochimilco in Mexico City.


Proposal for a new monument between Lake Chalco and crater Xico

Crater Xico: Before

Crater Xico: After



Master Plan - Water System through Existing Reserves across the Breadth of the City.



Axonometric View - Center for Rearch of Natural Sciences: Between Urbanity and Ecology Located between Lake Chalco and Crater Xico.



Perspective View from Fifth FLoor of Students' Center Overlooking the Common Space along Lake Chalco



CREDITS Instructor



El Hadi Jazairy Assistant Professor

Saswati Das Yiwei Huang Hsin-Han Lee Pankti Sanganee Kartiki Sharma Shreejit Modak Shuya Xu Sihao Xiong Mingchuan Yang

Xochimilco was made possible by a grant from the Michigan Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis as well as from the support of the Taubman College of Art and Architecture.


Guest Critics Lars Graebner Sharon Haar Doug Kelbaugh Kit McCullough Ana Paula Pimentel Walker James Michael Tate Carla Maria Kayanan Ana Morcillo PallarĂŠs Robert Grese

McLain Clutter Mitch McEwen Craig Borum Claudia Wigger Jonathan Rule Jen Maigret Jaffer Kolb

Special Thanks Monica Ponce de Leon Dean Milton S. F. Curry Associate Dean & Project Director Michigan Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis Sharon Haar Architecture Chair 195




Contributed by Saswati Das, Yiwei Huang, Hsin-Han Lee, Pankti Sanganee, Kartiki Sharma, Shreejit Modak, Shuya Xu, Sihao Xiong, Mingchuan Yan...


Contributed by Saswati Das, Yiwei Huang, Hsin-Han Lee, Pankti Sanganee, Kartiki Sharma, Shreejit Modak, Shuya Xu, Sihao Xiong, Mingchuan Yan...