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2016 MCHAP

Cuexcomatitlan Waterfront Promenade

Ricardo Agraz

Tlajomulco, Mexico

May 2014


Agraz Arquitectos


Desarrolladora Glar S.A. de C.V. (Builder) Deincokwi S.A de C.V. (Builder) MTQ de México (Structural engineering)


Tlajomulco de Zuñiga municipal government


Mito Covarrubias


The project´s twofold strategy (on the one hand, provide a proper place for Cuexcomatitlan´s annual ceremony, and on the other grasp the opportunity to correct the town´s -public space- historical wrong), had to keep into consideration something that was very important to us while designing the town´s public space. That is, that the solution given to the problem, should be one in which the architecture of the project could quietly recede to the background and allow for social activities to blossom and become the main aspect of this enterprise. After all, it is people who are at the core of architecture, for it is them who ultimately give meaning to what we build. It is through people having a stroll, a couple enjoying a sunset, friends gathering, or the laughter of children that bring to life any given public space. As Frances Yates suggested in her famous lecture “Architecture and the Art of Memory” delivered in 1980 at the Architectural Association in London: “A building lives, not only by its actual visible existence, but by its invisible reflection in the memories of generations of men.”


For more than three hundred years, Cuexcomatitlan, a small town located on the edge of Cajititlan´s lagoon in Jalisco, Mexico, has been the venue in which thousands of people gather together every year to celebrate, between December 31st and January 8TH, a unique religious festivity. This consists in parishioners from all over the country to come and congregate in this village, to honor a representation of the pilgrimage done by the Three Wise Men. Ironically, even though this has been without a doubt, the town´s most important ceremony for centuries, it did not have a public square for this event to take place. Thus, the project´s first task was to provide Cuexcomatitlan with a specific place that could efficiently host their traditional and highly regarded ritual. This was presented to us as an uncommon opportunity to make right a historical wrong. That is to say, by providing the town with a dignified space for its yearly custom, we could at the same time reorient Cuexcomatitlan´s main public space towards the water´s edge.


Beyond the scope of its urban implications, the social impact of Cuexcomatitlan´s waterfront promenade has been very positive because it manages to achieve two distinct but equally important goals: on the one hand, it has given Cuexcomatitlan a dignified space for its annual religious celebration, and on the other, it has given the town a generous public space that in itself works all year long. Thus correcting Cuexcomatitlan´s historical urban mistake which consisted, until recently, of not having its main public space directly on the water´s edge. Another decisive consequence that is worth emphasizing is that Cuexcomatitlan´s waterfront promenade project has resonated in the neighboring towns that are part of the important traditional religious pilgrimage. For example, recently the towns of San Juan Evangelista, San Miguel Cuyutlan and San Lucas Evangelista have all started to show interest in developing their own waterfront promenade projects. In other words, this project has detonated an urban dynamic, which promises to reconfigure Cajititlan´s lagoon shore into a very interesting and socially relevant public space for the region´s near by towns in the years to come.

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