After the announcement in 2014 of the construction of Mexico City’s new international airport in Texcoco, finding the vocation of the space now occupied by the International Airport Benito Juarez is one of the most interesting challenges in terms of worldwide urban development. This proposal is focused in recuperate Mexico City’s utopic capacity based on the history of Tenochtitlan.
Mexico City is facing serious challenges regarding its relation with water in the broadest possible sense. During the rainy season, certain parts of the City suffer flash floods that bring serious damage and represent a great danger. Causes can be found in the landscape’s topography, its vast urbanisation and lack of open green spaces, as well as in its total dependence on an extensive subterranean drainage system. During the dry season there is on the contrary a serious lack of water, that has acute consequences on public health due to heat stress and a drinking water shortage; but this fluctuation also causes the dehydration of vegetation and land subsidence.
Today, the Basin of Mexico is filled with the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City; but underneath the modern streets are the ruins of Tenochtitlán, the place where the Mexica settled, and the capital city for the Aztec empire. To understand why flooding is still a problem that afflicts Mexico City today, it is necessary to go back to Aztec times. According to the local mythology, the deity Huitzilopochtli ordered his people, the Mexicas, to establish their city where they would find “an eagle perched on a nopal (cactus) killing a snake”. This happened on an island in the middle of the lake of Texcoco, where given the endorheic nature of the Basin, the water levels rose during the rainy season and partially flooded the island, which forced the Mexicas to develop a deep understanding of their surrounding waterscape in order to survive.
However, once the Spanish conquered the city, one of the key factors for the consolidation of their domain was to create a new city model, similar to the Renaissance city that had been developed in Europe. During its construction, this new city was literally submerged into chaos more than once, due to a series of successive periods of flooding caused by the rising levels of the surrounding lake, a problem that hindered and delayed the construction works. After centuries the lake was drained and filled in, but an adequate drainage system was not established and when it rains the water tends to accumulate rather than be absorbed into the soil because of the city’s topography.
With all this in mind, this proposal is focused in recuperate Mexico City’s utopic capacity based on the dimensions and history of Tenochtitlan. Is presented as an opportunity to develop possibilities to generate a large water area in the east of the metrópolis to connect a new urban visión with its origins.
Situated upon a vast new wetlands system, this master plan for the former airport of Mexico City makes a bold proposition to revolutionize the city’s water infrastructure, which naturally collects and filters water for the city, and simultaneously provide housing, offices and retail for the ever-growing east part of the city in a new way to understand collective needs. If the former airport of Mexico City becomes a water purifying lake, it could also solve water shortage problema for many neighborhoods close to the site offering many jobs from its construction, maintenance and management. The ambitions that are being drawn up here are not merely utopian. The concept of water sensitivity is being applied in several cities across the world, and it is proving to be effective in many ways: improving public health and raising awareness, mitigating climatic issues, creating quality spaces, adding value to these cities and being cost effective.
The plan could potentially solve the water shortage problem for many neighborhoods close to the site.
The new model is a strategy of rescue, transformation and densification.
Nowadays is water, more than a eagle on a cactus, the future of Mexico City and the world.
It incorporates uses that denote the potential of the site as a center to promote investment and the constant flow of local and foreign capital.
The master plan naturally collects and filters water for the city, while simultaneously provide housing, offices and retail for the ever-growing east part of the city