Volta Arquitectos, Patrick López and Augusto Arias shared with us their proposal for the XIII Arquine International Contest, which asked participants to design a Media Park, an environment for free and safe interactions that can also be a space for culture and learning. This design is aimed to be much in the tradition of the successful library parks in Medellin, Colombia , while reactivating an emblematic, but semi-abandoned site of Ciudad Juarez, the PRONAF polygon (National Border Program of Mexico), built in 1961 with the intention of attracting people from the neighbor city of EI Paso, Texas. The 1961 project saw two of Mexico’s most prominent architects of the time -Pedro Ramirez Vazquez and Mario Pani-design buildings which in the past 2 decades have become surrounded by parking lots, and eaten by a now decaying mall respectively. More images and description after the break.
How to intervene an emblematic, yet deteriorating and semi-abandoned site, and at the same time provide safe public space in a city under siege from violence? The PRONAF site possesses unique characteristics in the city, not only because of its historic background, but also because it acts as an urban centrality, and because of its singular morphology which gives it a 360 degree front.
A simultaneous strategy of ungrouping and complementing the given program, while intervening a second parking lot of the PRONAF site, the contest asked for an intervention on one of the parking lots. With only one front, this allows the project to extend like a hand over the site, augmenting its influence ratio, and giving a constant front facing the surroundings.
Besides presenting itself as only the first part of a necessary network of library parks for Juarez, the project strengthens itself with new programs with the intention of turning the Media Park into a true social condenser. Programs such as a childrens’ space and childcare center, and the multi-purpose space, which allows for community work, complements the given program of library, classrooms, auditorium, cafe, media lab, exhibition hall, lobby and outdoor spaces, letting the Media Park work also as a FARO (Arts and Crafts Fabric) of Ciudad Juarez, a model which has proved successful in other parts of Mexico.
Decentralizing and extending the program efficiently makes the project permeable, which coupled with a subtracting operation on part of the more recent buildings, allows for a passive recovery and articulation of the only two original PRONAF buildings that remain on the site.
A semi-radial scheme, resembling an inverted panoptic, makes an easy visual domain, both towards the inside and outside, by the visitor possible, approaching a real public safety system. This scheme is completed by generating slopes facing both forward and backward and perforated vertical surfaces, turning it into a backless building.
Finally, the great street gallery of public but controlled use, articulates the different parts of the program, allowing a constant and balanced flow of activities, while functioning as a transition area for the inside spaces: an active and programmed circulation acting as a leisure, stroll and/or rest space, which, given its stretched linear form, allows the Media Park to safely function both day and night. Pedestrian and a bicycle roads, parallel to the linear gallery let visitors and passers-by alike go through the shaded space freely, connecting the Media Park to the surrounding streets, and introducing true public space into the project.