Living in Here: Venice Biennale

The project presented at the Venice’s architectural biennale Vivir adentro (Living in Here, 2008), curated by Arq. Javier Sánchez, was based on the theoretical elimination of nine existing regulations in Mexico City for ten blocks in one of Mexico City’s popular neighborhoods, the Colonia Obrera. Each of the ten participating firms was assigned one of the blocks to present its proposal.

Our approach to this project was to investigate the urban context of this popular neighborhood, which is about 120 years old, where buildings correspond to the type of social housing built in the beginning of the XX century, also known as “vecindad” (even though some of these buildings were reinterpreted as such after Mexico City’s 1985 earthquake). The urban design of the Colonia Obrera is based on long streets on Eje Oriente Poniente and short ones towards the South; this is a design that repeats itself almost identically throughout the entire neighborhood.

Our proposal was to create buildings that could contain the already existing ones without losing the small neighborhood essence. This scheme also allowed creating plazas between the new buildings and the preserved ones, reinforcing the inherited urban design while intensifying the use of public space for the buildings permitted the integration of a neighboring park.

Finally, reflections about the architectural intervention in these blocks allowed us to modify the urban structure by creating an underground for vehicle traffic, thus allowing pedestrian continuity with a system of intertwining plazas contained inside housing buildings which strengthens urban design with shops on the ground floor, favoring human interaction while also respecting and dignifying the already existing buildings with an asset value, which at the end of the day are the ones that actually preserve the sense of neighborhood in one of Mexico City’s most traditional popular neighborhoods.

Location: Colonia Obrera, Mexico City
Type of Project: Social Housing
Project: Rozana Montiel + Arturo Ortíz
Curator: Javier Sánchez
Collaborators: Alin V. Wallach | Aldo Espinobarros | Cecilia Ceballos | Jessica Hernández
Date: 2008