according to mexican architecture practice espacio nero, mexico city is facing serious challenges regarding its relation with water, where during the rainy season, certain parts of the city suffer flash floods that bring serious damage and represent a great danger. causes can be found in the landscape’s topography, its vast urbanization and lack of open green spaces, as well as in its total dependence on an extensive subterranean drainage system. contrarily, during the dry season there is a serious lack of water that has acute consequences on public health due to heat stress and a drinking water shortage. this fluctuation causes the dehydration of vegetation and land subsidence.

this proposal is focused on recuperating mexico city’s utopic capacity based on tenochtitlan history



today, the mexican basin is filled with the sprawling metropolis of mexico city; but underneath the newly rebuilt streets are the ruins of tenochtitlán, the capital city of the aztec empire. ‘to understand why flooding is still a problem that afflicts mexico today,’ explains espacio nero, ‘it is necessary to revisit the aztec era.’ according to local mythology, the deity ‘huitzilopochtli’ ordered his people, the mexicas, to establish their city where they would find ‘an eagle perched on a nopal (cactus) killing a snake’.this happened on an island in the middle of lake of texcoco, where given the endorheic nature of the basin, the water levels rose during the rainy season and partially flooded the island, which forced the mexicas to develop a deep understanding of their surrounding waterscape in order to survive.

underneath the modern streets of mexico city lie the ruins of tenochtitlán



however, once the spanish conquered the city, one of the key factors for the consolidation of their domain was to create a new city model, similar to the renaissance city that had been developed in europe. during its construction, this new city was literally submerged into chaos more than once, due to a series of successive periods of flooding caused by the rising levels of the surrounding lake — a problem that hindered and delayed the construction works. after centuries, the lake was drained and filled in, but an adequate drainage system was not established. when it rains, the water tends to accumulate rather than be absorbed into the soil as a result of the city’s topography. with this in mind, this proposal is focuses on recuperating mexico city’s utopic capacity, based on tenochtitlan history. it is presented as an opportunity to develop possibilities to generate a large water area in the east of the metropolis to connect a new urban vision with its origins.

a before and after image depicting the incremental water problem mexico city faces



situated upon a vast new wetlands system, this master plan for the former airport of mexico city makes a bold proposition to revolutionize the city’s water infrastructure, which naturally collects and filters water for the city, and simultaneously provide housing, offices and retail for the ever-growing east part of the city in a new way to understand collective needs. if the former airport of mexico city becomes a water purifying lake, it could also solve water shortage problem for many neighborhoods close to the site, offering many jobs from its construction, maintenance and management. the concept of water sensitivity is being applied in several cities across the world, and it is proving to be effective in many ways: improving public health and raising awareness, mitigating climatic issues, creating quality spaces, adding value to these cities and being cost effective.

the plan could potentially solve the water shortage problem for many neighborhoods close to the site

the new model is a strategy of rescue, transformation and densification

Nowadays is water, more than a eagle on a cactus, the future of Mexico City and the world.

this master plan for the former airport of mexico city makes a bold proposition to revolutionize the city’s water infrastructure

it incorporates uses that denote the potential of the site as a center to promote investment and the constant flow of local and foreign capital

the master plan naturally collects and filters water for the city, while simultaneously provide housing, offices and retail for the ever-growing east part of the city



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: lynn chaya | designboom

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