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Contemporary Mexican Architectural Development – Article
13 Nov 2012
Mexico City Architectural Development
Article by Juan Pablo Serrano Orozco of Serrano Monjaraz Arquitectos
Architecture has been a very important ingredient of my life. I am part of a family that has 4 generations of architects that have been importantly involved in the development of Mexico City. Growing up in a family with such heritage and in one of the biggest cities in the world, has given me the opportunity to analyze the architectural identity of my country from different points of view. Through the years I have recognized four main factors that shape the identity of architecture and therefore give character to the country.
These factors are: growth, population, culture and economy, the four have direct influence in the expansion or contraction of each other and are the thermometer of the situation of any given country, interacting directly in the development of architecture. The growth of the city is affected by the population that moves the economy and modifies the culture. Architecture is the central pillar and as a result of it, cities must grow giving the population a better quality of life in order to improve the economy and boost the culture.
The constant expansion of Mexico City has been evident to me since a very young age. It has reached parameters beyond the comprehensible, however I don’t believe the city is doomed, and on the contrary, I think that Mexican culture is strong enough to take advantage of the adversity and rich enough to overcome the darkest scenario. Yes, we have been rated as third world; recently the title changed to developing country, and I consider this last to be a great truth. Our buildings have been improving to achieve world class quality and I know that this effort is transforming this city into a high quality urban metropolis.
25 years ago our city suffered one of the biggest earthquakes in our history. A big percentage of downtown and surrounding areas were devastated by the terrible tragedy. Nowadays new developments rise up in the empty lots and a new skyline is dominating the horizon. During this tragedy population was the most affected and the architects and constructors learned that in order to give better quality of life better buildings must be constructed. Construction technique in Mexico has always been good, but has improved during the last 25 years.
With better constructions techniques and regulations, buildings are develop thinking about its inhabitants and mixed use projects are the answer to the increase number of activities that a building should give shelter to, in order to make day to day activities easy and pleasant. The reactivation of down town Mexico City and its surrounding areas has been the reason why the economy has maintained stability. The world crisis of the last two years affected the economy; construction sites were stopped, but not closed. Developments have been slower, but in order to satisfy the constant needs of a demanding population, architecture is the answer to the urban development this city and the country deserves.
In order to maintain a healthy economy investment in better architecture is a main factor. In my experience developers have been learning that high technology is not necessarily the answer to lasting healthy buildings, on the contrary, high-tech becomes obsolete very fast. Technologies that improve resource consumption are a more sensitive way of investing money, as projects that take these into considerations add value today and in the near future.
Globalization makes easier to get better products and services available world-wide, however it is very important to consider the performance in the long run. A very cheap product can result into the project biggest nightmare when there is no post sale service present locally. Local products are not the only answer either, but the developers who trust in our experience and professionalism not only to decide on the architectonic project, but to help them make the selection of the best materials and technologies s are those who will help improve the economy.
In an ideal city all the buildings should be able to generate their own resources in order to operate. I am aware that there is no ideal city; however it is possible that if every new building or development has the capacity to create the most of its resources, this automatically becomes an advantage for the community and will guarantee a more sustainable growth of the city. Measures like this impact in a very positive way the population and therefore the economy. Solutions must be planned step by step in order to achieve the objectives in the long run.
Culture is a live organism that moves the cities, that evolves and changes without being noticed. Walking to my job, my house, the school; taking public transportation, overall having a life is one the foundations of the culture of any city. In the 1970s Mexico City lived phenomenon of the suburbia developments as an answer to the overcrowded population downtown. At the moment it seemed to be the right answer to the problem, but the developments lacked very important ingredients: public transportation and cultural spaces.
Culture is a living phenomenon and for the last 40 years Mexico City has been reinventing the way it flows in order to make it possible for all its inhabitants to have access to a better lifestyle. Architecture is the pillar and I am working to develop a city for the next generation.
Article: Juan Pablo Serrano Orozco of Serrano Monjaraz Arquitectos
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