Xochimilco: Archeology Ecology Urbanization

Project Team:
El Hadi Jazairy
Saswati Das, Yiwei Huang, Hsin-Han Lee, Pankti Sanganee, Kartiki Sharma, Shreejit Modak, Shuya Xu, Sihao Xiong, Mingchuan Yang

The city of Xochimilco is a borough of the Mexico City District Federal. It is an agglomeration of lower middle class neighborhoods, densely packed green housing, a fine network of canals, and agricultural lands in transition towards urbanization. The area formerly covered over 400 square kilometers of lacustrine, but is now drained out of almost all its water reserves. The little that remains of this cultural and historic symbol of Mexico, is now protected and preserved as World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. However, by virtue of its position as a physical entrance into the main city and its environment of beautiful canals lined by Juniper trees and vast flowering agriculture lands, Xochimilco has been facing mass immigration from other parts of the city in the last 25 years, beyond its sustaining capacity. The canals once used for transportation and economic value creation supporting social and cultural life, have depleted to an extent where they are unable to support native wildlife and species. Air and Water pollution are increasing threats today. Greenhouses have taken over the chinampas. Creating a highly unsustainable environment, the heritage, economic, social and cultural value of Xochimilco is fast declining. In this situation, the city also faces the added threat of losing its title as a World Heritage Site, officially. The objective of the research is to investigate the relationships between archeology, ecology and urbanization across scales, looking in particular at the ecological reserve, the compound, the city, and larger geographies. The research engages the geographic condition as a site of inquiry and intervention to develop strategies that investigate the role, nature and agency of design in this context.