Karina Zatarain


The Failed Mexican Earthquake Memorial That Shows Protest Can Still Shape the Urban Environment

The Failed Mexican Earthquake Memorial That Shows Protest Can Still Shape the Urban Environment - Image 1 of 4
The proposed memorial to earthquake victims in Mexico City met with fierce resistance from residents who felt authorities had not done enough for the people left homeless by the tragedy. Image via Common Edge

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Letter From Mexico City: An Insidious Memorial to a Still-Unfolding Tragedy."

You wouldn’t think it looking at Mexico City today—a densely populated metropolis, where empty space is hard to come by—but decades earlier, following a devastating earthquake on September 19, 1985, more than 400 buildings collapsed, leaving a collection of open wounds spread over the cityscape.

Exactly thirty-two years later, the anniversary of that disaster was ominously commemorated with an emergency evacuation drill. Then, in one of those odd occurrences in which reality proves to be stranger than fiction, a sudden jolt scarcely two hours after the drill led to what would be yet another of the deadliest earthquakes in the city’s history. Buildings once again collapsed, leaving a rising-by-the-hour death toll that eventually reached 361, as well as swarms of bewildered citizens wandering the streets, frantically attempting to reach their loved ones through the weakened cell phone reception. “We’d just evacuated for the drill,” people said, like a collective mantra. “How could this happen again?”

Social Design Work in Mexico Brings Community, Solidarity and Local Materials Together

This project emerged during the summer of 2015, when CHOPEkE Collective, together with Paúl Pérez, a seminarian and active member of the group, visited the community of Santa Luisa de Marillac, located in the central periphery of Ciudad Juárez. At the time, members of the community had an "unworthy" space -as they called it- for their meetings and spiritual activities.

12 Exhibition Design Projects that Show Architecture Doesn't Have to Be Permanent to Be Powerful

Thinking broadly of architecture, the masterpieces of the past inevitably come to mind; buildings constructed to withstand the passage of time, that have found an ally in age, cementing themselves in the history of humanity. Permanence, however, is a hefty weight to bear and architecture that is, due to its program, ephemeral should not be cast aside as "lesser-than."

Even in Wealthy Cities, Architects Must Work for Social Justice in Every Way Possible

Even in Wealthy Cities, Architects Must Work for Social Justice in Every Way Possible - Image 4 of 4
Woodward's Redevelopment. Image © Bob Matheson

The "about" section of Vancouver-based studio Henriquez Partners Architects' website boldly states: "We believe that architecture should be a poetic expression of social justice." While empowering communities through socially conscious design is hardly a new concept, the term "public-interest architecture" tends to call to mind images of low-budget constructions. Rarely is it employed to describe the large, mixed-use projects that have come to characterize downtown Vancouver and Gregory Henriquez's firm.

However, experimenting with different models of social regeneration through architecture is the driving principle of the studio's work. Throughout the years, Henriquez has explored concepts such as affordable ownership and dignifying design for the city's disenfranchised communities. In partnership with local real-estate development and culture company Westbank, he has built a number of projects that seek to equalize living conditions for all in one of the world's most affluent and progressive societies. Here, in an exclusive interview with ArchDaily, Henriquez describes his firm's ethos, his stance on issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, and gentrification, and the lessons he's learned in over 30 years of heading Henriquez Partners Architects.

Winners of the LafargeHolcim Awards 2017 for Latin America Focus on Water Management

As we face a global climate crisis that must be addressed, sustainability has quickly become one of the most crucial aspects to consider in contemporary architecture. Designs that go beyond current standards, showcasing sustainable responses to technological, environmental, socioeconomic and cultural issues have arisen in recent years, garnering much-deserved praise for the innovative and environmentally-friendly solutions they propose.

The LafargeHolcim Awards stands out as the world's most significant competition for sustainable design. The criteria of the USD 2 million competition are as challenging as the goal of sustainability itself. The competition is for projects at an advanced stage of design, not finished works.

IKEA's SPACE10 Future-Living Lab is Researching the Future of "Co-Living"

SPACE10, the future-living lab created by IKEA, announced this week a "playful research project" to investigate the future of co-living. One Shared House 2030, a website created in collaboration with New York-based designers Anton & Irene, asks members of the public to "apply" for acceptance to an imagined co-living community in the year 2030, outlining their preferences for the types of people they would like to live with, the way they would like the community to be organized, and the things they would be willing to share with others. SPACE10 hopes that the research project will provide information on whether co-living could offer potential solutions to issues such as rapid urbanization, loneliness, and the growing global affordable housing crisis.

A Real-Estate Development and Culture Company Has Created an Exhibition Highlighting the Need to "Fight for Beauty"

“Beauty,” as Umberto Eco tells it, “has never been absolute and immutable but has taken on different aspects depending on the historical period and the country.” So how is beauty defined today in our increasingly globalized world? Perhaps a more interesting question to ask is whether arriving at such a conclusion remains relevant to our society.

CEMEX Announces Mexico Winners In Their 2017 Building Awards

The CEMEX Building Award recognizes the best projects in Mexico and the rest of the world that use concrete in a creative and innovative way, with a focus on sustainability and social welfare. This year, the award received 545 entries in its Mexican Edition, of which 18 were awarded prizes.

The awards ceremony took place on November 9th in Mexico City, with finalists attending from the Czech Republic, France, the United States, the United Arab Emirates and various countries from South America.

The winners of the Mexico Edition were:

CEMEX Announces International Winners In Their 2017 Building Awards

The CEMEX Building Award recognizes the best projects in Mexico and the rest of the world that use concrete in a creative and innovative way, with a focus on sustainability and social welfare. This year, the award received 70 entries in the 5 categories and 4 special awards of its International Edition.

"Urban Toys" Designed to Reactivate Underused Public Spaces in Mexico City

How can play areas in cities open up new ways to interact with and experience space?

Jalisco, Mexico: Prototype for INFONAVIT, by ZD+A and Iñaki Echeverría

The exercise, “from territory to inhabitant”, organized by the Centre of Investigation for Sustainable Development (CIDS) of Infonavit, seeks to respond to the diverse cultural, social, environmental, spatial and functional needs of different localities and bioclimates in finding assisted self-build housing solutions. The main objective of this investigation is to establish the legal, conceptual and architectonic processes that can be used to create these types of houses. 

In their next project, CIDS invited the Mexican studio ZD+A to collaborate with Iñaki Echeverría to make a proposal for a social housing prototype for assisted self-build with the municipality of Tala in Jalisco, Mexico.

Materia Completes Concrete and Wood Pavilion for Design Week México 2017

For the 9th edition of Design Week Mexico, emerging Mexican practice Materia has completed a architectural pavilion within Mexico City's largest public green space, Chapultepec Park. Commissioned by Design Week Mexico in collaboration with Museo Tamayo, the pavilion will serve as a major cultural attraction during the event from October 11th—15th, and beyond.

The Ambitious Project that Brings Together 44 Mexican and International Architects

In Baja California, Mexico, the 860 hectares that make up 'Cuatro Cuatros'—a tourism development that for the past ten years has been overseen and designed by Mauricio Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo of Taller de Arquitectura—present an arid and mostly monochromatic landscape interrupted only by stones and bushland.

Vast as the site may seem, only 360 of its hectares will be destined for housing development, of which only 10% can be impacted by construction. The challenge will lay in mitigating the protagonistic stance architecture usually assumes when conquering previously untouched lands, by taking on a presence that disappears into the landscape. 

CEMEX Announces the Finalists of the 2017 International Building Awards

CEMEX has announced the 61 finalist projects from 17 countries in the running for the 2017 International Building Awards.

The International Edition of the CEMEX Building Awards brings together the winning projects from each of the different CEMEX National Building Awards to compete head-to-head. This year, 17 countries launched a call for completed works to participate in one of five categories and four special awards.

CEMEX Announces 2017 Mexican Premio Obras Finalists

Held annually, the CEMEX Building Award honors the best architecture and construction both in Mexico and abroad. Yesterday the cement company announced the finalist projects located in Mexico, and in categories ranging from social housing to infrastructure. Each project will be evaluated by a jury convened by CEMEX; the qualities to be evaluated include integrated sustainability, architectural design, structure and innovation in the construction process.

Below see the full list of finalist projects located in Mexico. 

Mexican Cultural Heritage and New Technology Come Together in Interactive Chair

The most recent Project by Okubo Studio is the Fulgar Chair, mixing traditional Mexican design with interactive technology and design to create a new piece of furniture with lights and personality. The Acapulco chair is emblematic of Mexican culture, which radically transforms not just its materials but its utility and environment.

A Success Story of Architecture and Art in One of Mexico's Most Violent Cities

What becomes of public space once violence is normalized in a city? Though it is naive to believe that architecture by itself can present absolute solutions to complex social and political issues, it is also important to explore and understand its possibilities as an agent of social change, however small.

7 Abandoned and Deteriorating Latin American Architectural Classics

How many lives does a great work of architecture have? The first begins when it is built and inhabited, judged based on the quality of life it provides for its residents. The second comes generations later when it becomes historically significant and perhaps its original function no longer suits the demands of society. The value of such buildings is that they inform us about the past and for that reason their conservation is necessary.

However, in Latin America, there are countless cases of buildings of great architectural value that are in tragic states of neglect and deterioration. Seven such examples are: