Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mexico - New Approaches

I'll never forget the beauty and fragrance of the ancient city of Monte Alban, overlooking the Oaxaca Valley. Its scale of temples, pyramids and ballcourts is very human and walkable, influenced by, but much smaller than, Teotihuacán in Mexico City. These Zapotec, Olmec and Mayan cultures included a very rich and colorful heritage of carvings, sculptures, fabrics and artifacts that express a very different vision of habitation than that of the Europeans.

Looking to our southern neighbor, we see some emergent urban visions that combine the best of these built approaches: a focus on the fabric of urban biodiversity and an integration of scale in the built environment. In Mexico City, the firm of Foster + Partners has proposed a sustainable urban development for a medical facility:

"Foster + Partners has revealed its designs for a 71-hectare teaching and medical facility in Mexico City upon notice of their appointment to the project. Campus Biometropolis masterplan in the south of the city will integrate care facilities with high tech teaching spaces, research institutions and laboratories and feature a vital new nature reserve showcasing the Pedregal lava fields as a highlight of the design.

"The wilderness area, together with enhanced landscaped zones, will account for half of the site and preserve Mexico City’s indigenous plants and animal species whilst creating an attractive landscape for the built areas."

More practial urban strategies for implementing sustainability to counteract the dramatic overconsumption of resources are Mexico City's Plan Verde as well as its plan for water self-sufficiency by 2020.