A shared home: Construction of a park in the infonavit unit Pablo David Goldin Marcovich
The park “Unidad Infonavit” in the Cardenas neighborhood currently works as a cohesive agent to move from a condition of isolated apartments organized in monotonous and disconnected buildings into a shared and open home addressing social, spatial and environmental concerns. Whereas the deterioration of the built and social environment had secluded the inhabitants to their own apartments, the project for the transformation of a derelicted area at the core of the housing unit into a park has extended the limits of their domestic activities and provided a common source of value for the benefit of the local and surroundings communities.
The impact of the project is perceptible in terms of scale with local and global implications, architectural and landscape design, socioeconomic activities and public policy. As the planning initiative established by the federal government (SEDATU) aims to introduce public projects in marginated areas across the country, the specificness of the project explores a replicable solution to articulate socioeconomic and urban development in social housing contexts around Latin America?
At a local scale, daily life of the neighbors has improved, facilitating pedestrian displacements, increasing night time activities, providing recreational facilities and equipment and reshaping the identity of the area through colors and materials palettes. Paraphrasing Jane Jacobs, “Eyes are on the street” at the park “Unidad infonavit” in the Cardenas neighborhood. Former strangers from different ages and genders meet in the common spaces playing sports together, in cultural activities organized by the local community or consuming at the stores located in the park and local products commercialized by the inhabitants, in particular the female population. Persons of different generations and with different abilities coexist in the public space encouraging security and diversity. Surrounding communities that do not inhabit the housing unit commute through the park.
In terms of design, the project aims for low cost, low maintenance and flexibility through the use of modular elements to be locally manufactured and the use of endemic vegetation. The park provides the apartments and the area with shared public spaces and programs that don’t exist on a personal scale. Shaded spaces with natural ventilation provide the users frameworks to be appropriated. Open areas with recreational equipment are vegetated with endemic species that require low maintenance. Extended pavements across the site aim to difuminate previous borders and limits and integrate the unit with its surrounding context.
From a global perspective, the project proposes a design strategy to improve and activate social housing units avoiding the social conflicts and carbon emissions caused by demolition. As social housing units around the globe are stigmatized as a source of conflict and marginalization due to their lack of maintenance and the deterioration of their social and urban tissues, the project addresses the design of public spaces in housing units as a valuable catalyst in the vast efforts for the conception of more sustainable cities and communities.
Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated previous symptoms of economical, social and climate cris
es making evident the need for new paradigms of design and implementation of public space projects. Social housing typology in particular, crystallizes tensions between individuals and communities, exposing the fragile conditions in which the inhabitants must fulfill the necessities of food, work, education and sanitation. Former problems such as the individual construction of fences and informal additions to the existing buildings are added with recent increment of domestic violence, unemployment and educational disparity caused by overcrowding conditions in the apartments and the digital divide among other circumstances. Since the inauguration of the park at the “Unidad infonavit” in the Cardenas neighborhood in Tabasco, additional improvements beyond the scope of the project have occurred such as the painting of buildings and the creation of local shops developed by the inhabitants of the unit in which majorly women and elderly populations have taken advantage of the pedestrian flows across the area. This positive synergy manifests how complex environments can organically improve starting from the public space integrating the residents into cultural and sporting activities and circular economies.
Sustainable cities and communities demand for long term visions and specific projects to contribute to the multiple projects and initiatives that must be interconnected in order to address the complete SDG agenda. The project of the park “Unidad infonavit” aims to contribute in rethinking our homes in the context of the city and transform our cities public spaces into a shared home.