A drop in the ocean: The smart reclaim of rivers in Mexico City

Thousands of works and studies trying to explain the ecocide. Hundreds of projects trying to solve the mistake of the Valley of Mexico. From the pharaonic proposal of Alberto Kalach and Teodoro Gonzales de Leon, to the texts and good intentions of urban researchers such as Jorge Legorreta and Manuel Perló. The great Jose Emilio Pacheco sourly chanted the long night of the valley. Even my Masters dissertation naively denounced the systematic disappearance of more than 40 original rivers in less than 300 years.

The Transformation of The Basin of Mexico. Tomas Filsinger 2005
The Transformation of The Basin of Mexico. Tomas Filsinger 2005

In  2017, a civic effort is finally showing the power of small scale urban interventions for a sustainable city. The project follows the one and only possible formula in sustainable urban development: the skillful integration of civic, financial, biological, and architectural conditions. Miss one of them, and your project will fail sooner or later.

Taller 13 and CuatroAlCubo are the visible leaders of a work of hundreds of citizens that have fought the narrow view of governments that are passive at best, and reactive of any proposal that challenge hard and massive urban infrastructures. For nearly a decade these organizations have developed the idea of restoring the original flows of rivers and to include them into public space. The project has mutated from a Cheonggyecheon (South Korea) like-environment to a sober, yet inclusive project of wetland and vegetation in a linear park standing on a sewage tunnel that replaced decades ago the Piedad River. The strategies for the conservation and vitality of the linear park and wetlands encompass civil society and the local government.

I live in Shanghai but I follow closely the development of my city. The first thing I will do in my next visit to Mexico City is to walk along and around the Viaducto linear park and wetland, to witness a fresh drop in the potential ocean of the Valley of Mexico.

 

 

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