Anya Sirota – CDMX: Emergent Cultural Infrastructure at the Margins of the Megalopolis

Can equity and inclusivity in marginalized urban environments be improved by leveraging the cultural activity and assets of place? Can the intersection of art, curatorial practice, urban activism and architecture push the methodological boundaries of design to produce unorthodox institutions and emancipatory socio-spatial scenarios?

Exploring these questions through the lens of pioneering cultural projects sited at the perimeter of Mexico City, the studio investigated the role of cultural infrastructures in urban development. Through a series of directed experiments, students broadly scrutinized how art and culture embody and influence transitional urban space, negotiate between informal appropriation and institutionally sanctioned environments, and advance new urban paradigms. Techniques developed through interdisciplinary research and fieldwork were applied toward the design of new and speculative social environments.

The storied Canal Nacional in Mexico City’s East Iztapalapa neighborhood served as the context for the studio’s speculative propositions.

Studio workshops and site visits developed in partnership with Graciela Kasep, coordinator of El Centro de Investigación en Economía Creativa (CIEC) at CENTRO University in Mexico City.

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Student Work

DaHarsheen Kaur and Ishan Pal – “Parque Sonar”

Mexico City is reknown for its diverse and exuberant music scenes. From underground rock to punk discos, vanguard popular sounds create emancipatory environments for collective experience in the city. Building on the idea that music, however ephemerally, can blur social and class distinction, Parque Sonar imagines a new sound playground for the creation of emergent genres and untethered experimentation. Preserving the history of site, ensuring porosity between architecture and landscape, imagining heterogenous programs, and supporting informalism through appropriation, the project speculates on the shape novel cultural infrastructure might take.

Abirami Manivannan, Salvador Lindquist – “Tu Mesa”

Tu Mesa leverages the agricultural heritage of the Chinampas, the contentious perception of water and the gastronomical vibrancy of Mexico City to create a new cultural landscape surrounding culinary education. The porosity of the ground plane, the surrealistic experience of walking through the floating productive landscape, and the playfulness of the architecture fosters informal appropriation and creates emergent cultural affordances. People from surrounding boroughs and from the city will gather around Tu Mesa, their community table to collectively celebrate and experience the culture of food, water, and education.

Valeria de Jongh, John Vieweg, Dongya Wang – “Chinam-pow!”

A former recycling plant in Coyoacán Mexico City is re purposed by residents and converted into a cultural center. This center specializes In the production of mobile Chinampas that float through the local canal, performing ecosystem services and functioning as platforms for new cultural programming. The center features: terrariums for local wildlife, performance spaces, a making center, and artist residences.

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