The issue of water management, particularly in underequipped urban areas, is a crucial one for Mexico City. Jointly coordinating a team from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Loreta Castro Reguera and Manuel Perló Cohen developed an innovative approach. This program works to integrate public space and light hydraulic infrastructures, thereby offering an alternative to the usual strategies, a proposal that won the LafargeHolcim Awards Gold for Latin America in 2017, and the Global Award Gold in 2018.
For Loreta Castro Reguera, winning a prize in the LafargeHolcim Awards significantly boosted her project’s drive to be constructed. She shares her experience in the special edition of international design magazine L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui (AA) dedicated to architecture competitions. Read her full interview and jury member comments by Xuemei Bai, Professor of Urban Environment & Human Ecology, Australian National University and Angelo Bucci, Co-founder & Principal, spbr, Brazil.
“Most of the world’s future populations will be added to the cities in the Global South, where adequate infrastructure for water provision and treatment is often missing. These cities are also most vulnerable to increasing flood risks under a changing climate. Addressing these urban challenges requires system thinking and locally-embedded, innovative solutions that achieve multiple goals in one intervention. This project is exactly doing that.”
- Xuemei Bai, Professor of Urban Environment & Human Ecology, Australian National University; and Member of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards jury in 2018.
“The LafargeHolcim Awards are presented as a competition, but they have a much wider reach. They support an affirmative policy to promote sustainable architecture. They embody the idea of a more ethic, inclusive and resilient world. This complex project in Mexico City reflects these principles.”
- Angelo Bucci, Architect, co-founder of spbr arquitetos office, São Paulo, Brazil; and Head of the LafargeHolcim Awards jury for Latin America in 2017.
LafargeHolcim Awards open for entries
Design competitions boost projects, careers, and networking opportunities. The LafargeHolcim Awards seeks leading projects of professionals as well as bold ideas from the Next Generation that combine sustainable construction solutions with architectural excellence.
The 6th cycle of the international competition is open for entries until February 25, 2020. The Awards offer a total of USD 2 million in prize money and foreground projects and concepts from architecture, engineering, urban planning, materials and construction technology, and related fields. Enter your contribution to sustainable construction in the LafargeHolcim Awards – the world’s most significant competition for sustainable design.See more
The main stages of construction for Hyrdropuncture: La Quebradora Water Park in Iztapalapa, Mexico City have been completed. The Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2018 winning project represents a change in the paradigm of water management, and is coordinated by Manuel Perló of the Institute of Social Research (IIS) at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) with architect Loreta Castro Reguera of Taller Capital. After winning the top LafargeHolcim Awards prize, the project also received the Premio Ciudad for the best architectural intervention of the year for Mexico City in November 2018.
The project diverts rainwater from the Sierra de Santa Catarina area to prevent urban flooding that would normally inundate Ermita Iztapalpa Avenue. Hydropuncture also improves the quality of water that infiltrates the subsoil and increases the volume of water that replenishes the water table by 35%. Captured rainwater runoff is treated through a combined system of biological anaerobic ponds and wetlands. The water management infrastructure also creates public, recreational, coexistence and landscape space that celebrates water – but at the same time it will help solve the water problems in the area, characterized paradoxically by both a lack of drinking water and the impact of urban flooding.
The site doubles the public space available for the 28,000 residents to almost three square meters per person and triples the number of trees. The public park also promotes a civic culture of water appreciation, which is critical to improving Mexico City’s capacity to implement sustainable water use practices. Water pumps and public lighting are powered by solar panels on site.
Following the elections and resulting changes in the composition of the governmental bodies of Mexico City, the Mayor’s Office of Iztapalapa was instructed to suspend the finalization of La Quebradora Hydrological Park project in December 2018 due to the lack of relevant studies and documents that are believed to be missing due to omissions by the former local administration. The administrative issues are in the process of being resolved, so that the project praised by the Global Jury as "foregrounding the importance of water as a resource in urban contexts" can be brought to completion.See more
As part of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards handover program in Mexico City, guests were invited to visit the main winning project – a publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex “La Quebradora.” Among the participants was Lia Leutenegger, a student from Switzerland, who summarizes her experience as follows.
The project "Hydropuncture – The Shaping of Water" in Mexico City inspired me from the moment I heard about it: the idea of combining a water treatment plant with a public park is, in my opinion, more than prize-worthy. But only when I visited the construction site did I fully realize how urgent and meaningful this project really is.
After a long drive through the city we reach the park. Everyone we asked for directions along the way knew immediately what we were looking for. We arrive at the construction site, but we are not allowed to enter, despite our arrangements. The site is strictly guarded and enclosed by a high wall. We aren’t even allowed to get out of our vehicle – too dangerous. A little later, Loreta Castro Reguera, project author, joins us with her husband and little daughter. “This is one of the city’s most notorious streets – dark, surrounded by high, continuous walls. Here you are completely unnoticed,” explains Loreta, who together with Manuel Perló won the Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2018. “The new park will attract many people, which makes this road safer. In addition, we are tearing down the walls and replacing them with mesh fencing; then you will be able to see from the park what is happening on the street – and it will let in a lot of light.”
The first coffee house in the neighborhood
Shortly afterwards, we are able to enter with a guard. There is unexpected bustle on the construction site. “The government desperately wants the construction work to be completed before the next elections,” explains the architect. Despite the many workers, the scene is not chaotic at all, but it is very loud and visibility is impaired by black smoke from the motors of the trucks.
The two open water reservoirs are already completed. The water in them is still murky and covered with foam. Rising in sharp contrast above them is a ramp, freshly planted with an array of indigenous vegetation that will connect the upper and lower sections of the park. The slope culminates with a staircase that seems to lead nowhere. “This will be an entrance later,” explains Loreta. “The large building next to the park is one of the busiest churches in the city. Every day thousands of people come here for their prayers.”
Right next to it, the treatment plant is being built. The men are working at a height of 10 meters, secured by a hemp lifeline attached to their belt. They seem to weld without a face mask. But everyone is wearing a yellow safety vest – that’s what the regulations require. The first coffee house in the neighborhood is being built in front of the plant. “That’s what the people we interviewed said they wanted the most,” says Loreta. “Today you have to drive 20 minutes toward the city center to find a place to have a coffee.”
As our tour ends, I asked if similar facilities are being planned. The architect says her team has already identified some promising locations. Each location carries new challenges – but she is confident that she will soon be able to apply the concept elsewhere.See more
A project team led by architect Loreta Castro of Taller Capital and researcher Manuel Perló from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México created urgently needed water infrastructure in the eastern periphery of Mexico City. “La Quebradora Hydraulic Park” is nearing completion and improves conditions in the dense urban fabric of the city by forming a greenbelt that doubles as water management infrastructure. Enrique Norten, Principal of TEN Arquitectos (USA/Mexico) and member of the Board of the LafargeHolcim Foundation, explained that the project strengthens the social fabric of the community by integrating green courtyards and public buildings into urban infrastructure. “The project demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved, from construction detailing to long-term maintenance after completion. This infrastructure is given a parallel life as a civic space that functions on many scales,” said Norten.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
An ambitious project to transform public perceptions of water, and to embed civic amenities into water infrastructure is underway in Mexico City. The Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold winning project is under construction at Parque Hídrico Quebradora, in the borough of Iztapalapa to the city’s east and the northern face of Sierra Santa Catarina. The project will improve conditions in the dense urban fabric by forming a greenbelt that doubles as water management infrastructure. Hydropuncture consolidates an alternate, decentralized, and sustainable water management system for Mexico City.
Work is progressing according to plan. Basic earthworks are completed and the series of terraced platforms and retaining walls of volcanic stones are in place. In the next six months, the buildings will be erected and a great number of trees and plants added to create both a recreational area and a wetland system to naturally filter storm and wastewater.
The earthwork underway takes into account the geology and history of the Mexican capital. Built on an endorheic basic fed by 47 rivers, Mexico City is at the center of a 1,100km square lake system. The Aztec city of Tenochtitlán was founded in 1325 and used a grid of canals and floating earth platforms (chinampas) to permit the natural flow of water. After colonization, the city was transformed into an earth and stone grid that covered the canals and increased flood vulnerability, eventually leading to the draining of the lake system by artificially perforating the basin. Today, the megalopolis of 22 million inhabitants still struggles with floods and the supply of drinking water. To make matters worse, the city is vulnerable to earthquakes.
The project includes strategies such as rainwater harvesting; natural infiltration; runoff retention; reforestation of the hillsides; stream and river remediation; and the transformation of wastelands into landscape infrastructures. Starting with Parque Hídrico Quebradora, the approach led by Manuel Perló Cohen, researcher at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and Loreta Castro Reguera, design director at Taller Capital, sets a new paradigm for the future design of public urban spaces in the country.See more
Projects in Mexico, Niger, and the USA win the 5th Global LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction. As diverse as the three top projects are in terms of geography, program and scale – they are all the result of true teamwork across generations, genders and ethnicities. Alejandro Aravena (Chile) headed the independent jury of renowned experts who evaluated the 15 finalist projects from all continents that had qualified for the global phase of the Awards. The USD 2 million competition is run by the LafargeHolcim Foundation, an initiative of LafargeHolcim, the leading global building materials and solutions company.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2018 goes to “Hydropuncture”, a publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex in Mexico. The project team is led by design director Loreta Castro Reguera at Taller Capital, and researcher Manuel Perló Cohen from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The infrastructure project in an underprivileged area of Mexico City intermingles flood basins and public amenities with spaces that follow the gravitational logic of flowing water. The jury stated that the sophisticated design addresses an urgent issue at a scale with real impact.
“Legacy Restored”, the Awards Silver winner, is a religious and secular complex in Niger that reinterprets traditional local construction for a new mosque and a community center. The project was designed by architects Mariam Kamara, atelier masomi, Niger; and Yasaman Esmaili, studio chahar, Iran. It creates a civic space open to all in the village of Dandaji, supporting the education of women and strengthening their presence within the community. The design strategy champions local artisanship, traditional building techniques and materials produced on site.
The community-driven neighborhood planning project “Grassroots Microgrid” wins Awards Bronze for re-imagining empty lots as collective infrastructure for energy and food production as well as for civic engagement in Detroit, USA. The large team of authors is led by Constance C. Bodurow, founding Director of studio[Ci], a transdisciplinary design collaborative in Detroit. The project enables neighborhoods to reach energy autonomy through micro-infrastructure, leverages vacancy as an asset, and creates a new economic paradigm for community renewal.
The strength of sustainable design
Jury head Alejandro Aravena commented that the global Gold and Silver winning projects act as role models: “They are masterful pieces that demonstrate what sustainable design and construction can achieve. As a community-driven initiative, the Bronze winner opens a path, innovating an approach that will need to be developed further,” said Aravena. The global Awards winning teams are diverse in every sense of the word. “Although not something considered during the evaluation process, the jury was delighted by the strong representation and success of women in the LafargeHolcim Awards,” said Aravena. Traditionally, the Awards competition enjoys a strong level of both participation and success in the competition by female professionals and students.
Aravena explained that the jury selected the water treatment project in Mexico for Gold because it builds large urban infrastructures that serve multiple purposes and become civic spaces. “Using architecture to give dignity to fragile rural communities losing population to urban migration, was a main reason for awarding Silver to the project in Niger," said Aravena. The Bronze winning project in the USA, finally, uses light and local infrastructure as a means of community building. “The context of the three global Awards winning projects is complementary, providing models for megacities, urban communities, and remote rural villages,” added Aravena: “They indicate two tendencies within the discourse on sustainability: a focus on infrastructure and new explorations of traditional ways of building.”
Prizes for exciting ideas in Argentina, Ghana and the USA
For the first time, the global Awards jury selected three of the 40 Acknowledgement and Next Generation prize-winning projects from the regional phase of the competition to receive LafargeHolcim Awards Ideas prizes. “We felt that they offer exciting and novel ideas, even within proposals that are not yet fully developed,” said jury head Alejandro Aravena. The prizes go ex aequo to “Refrigerating Jar” in Ghana, “Cooling Roof” in California, USA, and “Territorial Figure” in Argentina.
Architects Wonjoon Han and Gahee Van of VHAN together with Sookhee Yuk from Make Africa Better led a South Korean team designing shea butter storage towers in Nyingali, Ghana; they enable passive cooling that enhances the economic viability of agriculture and an aesthetic that alludes to traditional local architecture. Georgina Baronian, student at Princeton University in the USA, developed a prototype of a large-scale structure using water on the roof as a thermal insulator and solar reflector in one. The infrastructure-landscape project for the generation of electric power based on tidal currents at Punta Loyola in Argentina was developed by three students from the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina: Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo.
From more than 5,000 submissions down to 6 global winners
The 5th International LafargeHolcim Awards competition attracted 5,085 projects and visions to be implemented in 131 countries. 1,836 projects passed the formal and quality checks and were assessed by independent juries in five competition regions: Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East Africa and Asia Pacific. 11 prizes carrying a total of USD 330,000 per region were handed-over to winning teams in 2017. The three main winners per region automatically qualified for the global Awards; and the 40 Acknowledgement and Next Generation prize-winners were eligible for the Awards Ideas prizes 2018. The prize pool for the global phase of the Awards totals USD 350,000. The International LafargeHolcim Awards cycle spans three years, the 6th competition will open for entries in mid-2019.
Members of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards jury 2018
Further information: www.lafargeholcim-foundation.org/awards/5th-cycle/global/JuryGlobal
Winners of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards and Ideas prizes 2018
Follow web links for project presentations by authors, and appraisal and video statements by the jury
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Gold 2018
Hydropuncture – Publicly accessible water retention and treatment complex, Mexico City, Mexico.
Project intermingling flood basins and public amenities in an underprivileged area, with spaces arranged to follow the gravitational flow of water.
By Loreta Castro Reguera, Taller Capital; and Manuel Perló Cohen, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Silver 2018
Legacy Restored – Religious and secular complex, Dandaji, Niger.
A re-interpretation of traditional local construction for a new mosque and community center, creating a space in the village open to all.
By Mariam Kamara, atelier masomi, Niamey, Niger; and Yasaman Esmaili, studio chahar, Tehran, Iran.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Bronze 2018
Grassroots Microgrid – Communtiy-driven neighborhood planning, Detroit, USA.
This neighborhood-scale project re-imagines empty lots as collective infrastructure for energy and food production as well as for civic engagement.
By Constance C. Bodurow, director and Eric Mahoney, designer, studio[Ci], Detroit, USA, and a team of further authors.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Ideas prize 2018
Refrigerating Jar – Shea butter storage for Nyingali community, Karaga District, Ghana.
The striking towers of the storage units are designed for passive cooling and allude to traditional local architecture.
By Wonjoon Han, Gahee Van, VHAN; and Sookhee Yuk, Make Africa Better, Seoul, South Korea.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Ideas prize 2018
Cooling Roof – Prototype for an evaporative roof for radiant cooling, Cherry Valley, CA, USA.
Research investigation on cooling large-scale structures using water on the roof as a thermal insulator and solar reflector.
By Georgina Baronian, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA.
Global LafargeHolcim Awards Ideas prize 2018
Territorial Figure – Tidal energy landscape, Punta Loyola, Argentina.
Infrastructure-landscape project for the generation of electric power based on tidal flow in the Río Gallegos estuary.
By Stefano Romagnoli, Juan Cruz Serafini, and Tomás Pont Apóstolo, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Córdoba, Argentina.
The project foregrounds an extremely important challenge for contemporary and future society, namely, the role of water as a resource in urban contexts. Further development of the project demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of the issues involved, from construction detailing to long-term maintenance after completion. This piece of infrastructure is given a parallel life as a highly layered civic space that functions on many scales, from neighborhood to territory.
The jury also understands the provision of water resources in this context to be in reference to the geography of Mexico City before urbanization. The project reintroduces some “lost” elements, including open, visible pools and soft surfaces for reabsorption. The jury finds the sophisticated design addresses an urgent issue at a scale with real impact, offering a replicable model for projects for other neighborhoods and cities worldwide.
As one of the three main LafargeHolcim Awards winners for Latin America in 2017, “Hydropuncture” automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global LafargeHolcim Awards 2018. All 15 finalist project teams were asked to submit an updated and more comprehensive entry that was evaluated by a global jury in March 2018.
The results of the global phase of the 5th LafargeHolcim Awards competition were announced on March 28, 2018.
Manuel Perló Cohen and Loreta Castro Reguera from Mexico City designed urgently needed water infrastructure for a favela in the Mexican capital. The project integrates greened public courtyards and public buildings, which strengthen the social fabric. “Equal attention is given to technical considerations of water management, social provision of public space, and the economics of construction as well as long-term maintenance,” said the jury.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
Serving a dense, impoverished neighborhood of Mexico City, this project combines much-needed water infrastructure with a new type of public space. Stepped terrain and a series of public buildings form a rich variety of courtyards. Low basins host wetlands and provide storage capacity to mitigate flooding during heavy rainfall. Upper levels move from soft landscape to hard paving, from park to plaza. By interweaving water management with public amenities, the project reintroduces water to the civic realm.Read more » más información (Spanish) »
Engaging people & public space to create water culture: the first Hydrourban Acupuncture
Parque Hídrico Quebradora is part of a larger plan, born from research, to build a parallel alternate sustainable water system for Mexico City by transforming public spaces into soft water management infrastructures through a strategy of Hydrourban Acupunctures. It aims to reintroduce water into the city’s visible realm by understanding its current natural, urban, economic, social, and political conditions. The project directly engages people with water by understanding its cycle and the potentialities that the landscape has to regulate storms and treat wastewater. The program is developed together with the surrounding community through a participatory-design model. This and the design strategy are replicable by adjusting to site specific conditions aiming to create water culture.
Understanding the site’s infiltration capacity to sensibly build upon it
La Quebradora gets its name from the site: a place of broken stone. Its position on the hillside enables water to naturally infiltrate the ground. The informally urbanized Sierra Santa Catarina, with former streams covered in asphalt, produces fast runoffs during the rainy season, flooding the main avenue, Ermita. This flow is diverted from the adjacent streets into the site, passing through a series of screens and filters that ameliorate its quality before placing it into two infiltration basins located in the northern part. The wastewater is treated through a combined system: aerobic treatment plant and a sub-superficial wetland for its later use in public toilets, irrigation, and to fill water pipes for the region. Power comes from 208 solar panels producing 54 KWh.
Promoting a long term soft infrastructure through the commitment of diverse sectors
The project aims to establish a long term relationship with its neighbors and the region through its use, both as a public space and as an infrastructure. The business plan strategy focuses on setting an escrow (academia, government, private sector, community) to obtain 60% funding from the private sector and government; and during the first five years to later flip percentages, letting the park auto-finance with 60%, receiving the remainder from donors and government. Maintenance involves hiring the community nearby and involving the city’s water management system (SACMEX), as the park will become part of it. Built from the region’s volcanic rock by molding the site through a series of platforms and contentions walls, the hope is for the project to last for centuries to come, mingling with the place.See more
Language: Spanish no Subtitles
“Hydropuncture” – La Quebradora Hydraulic Park creates urgently needed water …
Awards Gold: Head of the Global LafargeHolcim Awards 2018 jury, Alejandro Aravena, notes how the Gold Award winning …
Premio de Oro: El líder del jurado de los Global LafargeHolcim Awards 2018, Alejandro Aravena destaca que el proyecto …
A community-driven project for an underprivileged Mexico City suburb delivers zero-energy water catchment infrastructure …
Publicly-accessible water retention and treatment complex, Mexico City, Mexico: By interweaving water management with …
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