I began with researching the project, searching for exactly what the judges were looking for; buzzwords, ideas, and even a few case studies that were provided. From my search, I inferred the following guidelines:
75% Metropolitan Park // “Green lung, flood control, water treatment, ecology”
15% Commercial // “Business center, hotels, tourism”
10% Residential // “Accessibility, density, efficiency, green areas”
As designers – I feel we have a tendency to jump straight into graphics. Even at an early conceptual level – printing out some type of base, overlaying trace, and taking big fat markers – we start to develop circulation patterns, establish connectivity, and let forms happen based on the positive and negative space on the page. For this competition, I wanted to try something different. Using the information I gathered, I crafted my vision for this project before jumping into trace paper and hand drawings. This would be my starting point, my concept, and while I could tweak and revise this statement over the course of my design process, the intent of my design would be to:
“Establish and improve main access and connectivity to existing Mexico City, designing a model for sustainable housing along the exterior of the site and blending the existing system into a natural ecosystem used for both education and recreation.”
Below it in red ink I wrote “Giving a piece of Mexico City back to nature.”
Going through the typical research, inventory, and analysis of the site and surrounding area – things like demographics, rainfall, geology – all seemed like more of a grind than inspiration for my design, so I decided to focus on an area that intrigued me: the history of Mexico City.
It is said that the first Aztecs settled in the Mexico Valley in the 1300’s – developing their civilization into an empire over the next 200 years and establishing their capital, Tenochtitlan, in the center of Lake Texcoco. Lake Texcoco was, in fact, an accumulation of major and minor lakes that would flood and create one large lake during the rainy seasons. The center of Tenochtitlan, or the ‘Zocalo,’ is the heart of present day Mexico City. And if you have ever seen an aerial shot of present day Mexico City, you can see that those lakes have vanished. I felt like I had found my inspiration.
I amended my vision to include “…blending this system into a natural ecosystem inspired by the historical ecology of Lake Texcoco, used for both education and recreation.” Diving into a base-map with an overlay of trace, I began with 3 giant blue circles: these would be the foundation of the re-creation of Lake Texcoco’s historical ecology.