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urban metabolism: aguas informales

brief. / a year-long thesis project which researches the major urban challenges surrounding access to water facing Mexico City and proposes a series of architectural interventions for providing for those most affected, the city’s informal communities

date. / Fall 2011 - Spring 2012

location. / Mexico City, Mexico

description. /

Mexico City is a heterogeneous mix of contradictions that cannot easily be reduced; however, as the city continues to experience rapid urban growth, the major challenges facing it are focused around water. With a population of nearly 20 million people, land that was once a series of lakes has been almost entirely transformed into a sprawling urban mass critically questioning the future of its water supply. As the population continues to rise and the city continues to expand, the demand on the water supply has increased dramatically. However, increasing demand is not the only problem. In recent years, the majority of urban growth has occurred informally, which means that the city is expanding onto land that is unsuitable for urbanization. With regards to the water supply, such expansion not only increases the strain on the existing ecology and municipal infrastructure, but threatens to further limit the city’s ability to supply its population with water. As the informal population grows, the percentage of the city without access to formal infrastructure increases rapidly, which forces many to seek alternative sources. These informal alternatives are often inadequate, unreliable, and more expensive than their formal counterparts. Fortunately, though, the city’s potential to collect rainwater offers a solution. Through an improved understanding of the city’s informal growth and its geographic and hydrological conditions, this project seeks to provide a framework for recharging the ground water supply and harvesting rainwater at the domestic scale. This intervention deploys a city-wide network of river corridors, which will help to restore the water supply, while also providing a domestic solution which enables the informal population to collect the water they need without relying on the municipality.