Mexico City, Mexico
Jorge Arvizu Soto ignacio Del Rio Francos Emmanuel Ramirez Ruiz Diego Ricalde Recchia
Mariel Collard Arias (Project Architect) Gonzalo Alvarez Tostado Perez Casas (Project Architect)
Mexico City Government, International Affairs Office represented by Tatiana Alcazar Carrasco.
The spatial strength of the Zocalo is, at first, overwhelming. Such a vast space, full of significance but also full of flows, people and manifestations can result unfathomable; It’s biggest quality is also its biggest riddle. We worked the problem out, at first, by the space’s basic singularities: Flows, spatial configuration and hierarchies, shading and transitional spaces (or porticoes). The design for the temporary venue becomes an attempt to re-configure the urban structure of the Zocalo, which avoids the idea of creating a singular object by establishing a larger strategy that addresses the different components and allows the urban event to manifest itself with all its strength and natural diversity. The immense plaza is reconfigured into smaller urban atmospheres, to facilitate navigation and to ensure shade and comfort to visitors during their visit to the fair; the urban scale of the public realm gets human and the contemplative and political space turns into an active field. The spatial - structural system has been deliberately chosen as a response to the temporality and the assembling flexibility and efficiency required. Accordingly the roof and façade systems are solved through a materiality that intuitively relates to temporary and reusable structures; meshes and canvas. Together, wraparound and structure, embody a multi-scalar configuration strategy that looks and performs in accordance to its own material and constructive components, while relating to the urban, architectural and typological properties of the surroundings and of the surface in which it stands.
The Fair represents a political positioning of the city itself. In recent years Mexico City has relied on the intensive use of public space aiming to become and present itself as an open solidary and inclusive one. As part of this effort, the fair is held by Mexico City’s main square; a traditional “melting pot” where the diversity and dynamism of the city itself is expressed constantly. Mexico´s Zocalo, presumably the largest and most significant public urban space of the country, represents a great challenge to architects when designing for it. Despite its formal simplicity, the “Zocalo” is a complex space full of planning, political, historical and hysterical implications. At its surface, differences have always been demonstrated, some ideas have been repressed and the space, sometimes, has also been “abducted”. Yet the square remains a space to celebrate discrepancies and the survival of public space, so inherent to Mexican culture but sometimes forgotten by Mexico City’s inhabitants) There is no other space where it becomes evident that every single architectural intervention turns out to be political. The project, therefore, aims to steer away from a spatial imposition, while participating -as a temporary background- in a temporary programmatic and configurative transformation of the space, that fosters the coexistence and dialogue of multiple cultures and diverse actors.
The usage of not only the structure but also the main square itself was intensive and extensive. Despite the traditional significance of the open space in Mexican culture, the relative lack of free time of the current population, in addition to the growing influence of the alienating space of the shopping mall, has drastically distanced people off the public realm. Notwithstanding, events like the FCA pull back the interest of the people towards their own city and their own co-citizens; strategies like this one, let people know that their city and it’s spaces, still have much more to give and promote. The scaffolding strategy was developed to meet the standards and time frames of a considerably demanding political space. Six thousand square meters were assembled and covered in only three days, requiring a colossal effort of many different teams and an enormous amount of coordination by the architects. The opening happened seventy-two hours after the placement of the first post. When taken down, ten days after the opening, the Fair had hosted three million people assisting to concerts, forums, book presentations, cultural interchanges, etc. But above all, the fair acted as an attractor that brought back people to the Zocalo, reminding them about the fact that the space is theirs and there to be used and enjoyed; that the dynamic potencies of the built environment depends, not on the space itself, but rather on their involvement with their city and it’s everyday human interactions (Politics). As long as people retain the latter in their memory rather than the object, the project will be really successful.