2022

MCHAP

Boys and Girls Club

CCA Centro de Colaboración Arquitectónica

Tecámac, Mexico

February 2019

PRIMARY AUTHOR

Bernardo Quinzaños Oria, Ignacio Urquiza

CONTRIBUTING AUTHOR

Grupo PC Carso, DECSA, BVG, Genfor Landscaping

CLIENT

Club de Niños y Niñas CDMX y Estado de México - Nadine Cedrone

PHOTOGRAPHER

Jaime Navarro, Arturo Arrieta, Onnis Luque.

OBJECTIVE

After-school time is critical for children’s comprehensive development. In marginalized areas, many children are left without adult supervision when classes finish, a situation that poses a risk to their health, safety and general wellbeing. In these areas, the lack of safe spaces for recreation means that violence, drug and alcohol use, and insecurity hinder healthy development and lead to the weakening of the social fabric. This situation perpetuates negative cycles that generate inequality, among many other serious consequences for the community.

The Club is a foundation established to provide young people, in situations of social vulnerability and risk, aged between 6 and 18 years’ old a safe and healthy environment for creative, innovative, physical, and intellectual after-school activities; this is a space that promotes positive values and community integration through play, art, and learning.

The project consists of implementing a comprehensive prevention model that helps to reduce juvenile delinquency and addictions and to improve the quality of life for this population segment, thus securing a better future for the community and its members. The program is based on the development of five main pillars: art, sport, personal development, nutrition and life skills.

The Boys & Girls Club of Mexico is based on the successful model implemented 150 years ago by the Boys & Girls Club of America, an organization that offers hope and opportunity to four million children through 4,000 clubs in the United States every year.

CONTEXT

The Club is located at the boundary between two municipalities, Tecámac and Ecatepec, with a catchment area of 15 low-income neighborhoods within a two-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius. This is a special crime prevention zone set up by the government, having the highest population density, insecurity and crime levels in Mexico.

This project required an in-depth study of the zone, focusing on the failed relationship between the city’s growth and community’s wellbeing, as well as the sprawling urbanization of the city’s poorest areas that suffer acute shortages of public space. These deficiencies weaken the social fabric, affecting children in particular, generating a spiral of social decline, perpetuating ever-deepening cycles of inequality and violence.

We carefully searched for an area suffering from extreme urban overcrowding and lack of amenities, in order to maximize the community impact of this major initiative. The death of public spaces suitable for leisure, sports and culture spawns the harmful, violent and destructive behaviors that are typical of peripheral urban areas.

The main problems identified were: drug addiction, drug dealing and alcoholism. In addition to being major health problems, causes violence in the domestic sphere and against women. In the absence of suitable spaces where children and adolescents can spend their time after school hours, many parents prefer that their children stay at home watching television or playing video games, for fear of going outside and being exposed to risks. Another serious problem identified was child malnutrition, obesity and anemia, due to poor eating habits.

PERFORMANCE

The Boys and Girls Club has helped to provide opportunities perceived as enjoyable and worthwhile, removing the tendency to develop addictions and risky behaviors.

The challenge of participating in such an initiative goes far beyond the architecture itself: it requires coordination among various sectors of society to provide children with this service for free, to follow up on the institutions activities and development in order to help finance the running of the campus. The foundation’s board of trustees manages, supervises, and operates the campus with donated resources. This implies helping with fund-raising campaigns and also the involvement of companies, institutions and individuals willing to contribute resources, time and effort.

The project has helped promoting healthy and responsible behaviors through the development of constructive and creative activities, the aim is to guide Club members’ future personal and professional lives so that in turn they become agents of change in their communities, and for their families to benefit from the change in the children’s attitude, creating a more promising outlook. Strengthening the social fabric and the prevention of teenage addictions, crime and pregnancy, and lower school drop-out rate.

By being the largest campus in the world and the only one in Mexico, we had the opportunity to design a space that has changed the life of many children. The campus is prepared to welcome 2,000 young people, the pandemic being the only reason that campus has not been used to its maximum capacity.