Jose Amozurrutia, Gabriela Carrillo, Israel Espín, Carlos Facio, Eric Valdez
The project aims to rescue its character as an urban connector and public park along with strategically measured flexible spaces to be covered courts, community dining tables and recreational spaces. The Old Station was restored and recovered its original character, uncovering the structural elements and the original texture of its walls, as well as the essence, already rescued by the community, of the cultural space and the memory of the heart of Tapachula.
Its conceptual essence arises from the nature of repetition, evoked by the train tracks, and is resolved by a single section, capable of allocating small-format spaces on its sides, for sports, cultural and community use, which serves as “exposed foundation” to support a 19 mts high and 32 mts span lightweight roof, for large-format uses and public events. The landscape intervention forms slopes, public squares and community orchards, taking advantage of the extraordinary local vegetable palette, breaking the limits between the interior and the exterior, between what is built and what exists.
The structural strategy is based on tension elements that allow slenderness in the large span, despite seismic and wind considerations. The color and material palette arise from the place, being Tapachula the largest bamboo producer in Mexico, in addition to steel and concrete as reinforcement elements that promote cross ventilation and natural lighting in all spaces.
At nighttime, the urban space is intended to become a safe gathering place, properly illuminated for sports, cultural activities and daily crossing.
Tapachula´s Railway Station was inaugurated at the beginning of the 20th century; with an eclectic and art deco appearance that by the seventies would become modernist. The train transported passengers up until 1998, when it was privatized and turned into a cargo transport. For seven years the train was colloquially known as “La Bestia”, as migrants used to hop on to travel north into Mexico from Central America. In October 2005, Hurricane “Stan” collapsed the rail system in several sections, making it impossible for the train to function. Given the magnitude of the disaster it proved unfeasible to rebuild. The place that long served as the gateway to Mexico, as well as the heart of Tapachula, gave rise to a garbage dump; at night, housing and latrine for migrants and homeless people. Around the station the open land was abandoned as a wasteland.
The plot area is 27 thousand squared meters, it is surrounded by a large commercial area to the North and a residential area to the South. Prior to the construction of the project those two areas where isolated, the abandoned station acted as a crossing impediment for the citizens of Tapachula.
The project born as an answer to all these conditions. Hand in hand with fundamental actions by the community, the small space for cultural, sports and local memory activities was rescued, achieving throughout the region the intervention of the Urban Improvement Program implemented by SEDATU since 2019.
Tapachula Station was opened for the public a few months after it was completed. It took communal effort and committed organization by different social groups to distribute, program and plan the activities in this new complex. On one hand, over 24 thousand squared meters are functioning as an open city park, large green spaces equipped with dining tables, gathering open air spaces, biking and walking routes opened to the public all day long. On a second level, there is a coordination for the sport facilities: a soccer pitch and two basketball courts, that are being used most of the days. Then there is the restored train station, which is being organized by an NGO called Estacion Cultural Tapachula, a group of citizens that organize cultural activities as art exhibits, music concerts, cinema projections, theatre art plays, etc. The station is equipped with bathrooms and a cafeteria that will soon be operating on its second floor. The newly built spaces have been distributed by the Local Municipality to different organizations for workshops, classes of different sorts. Over 30 different 6x6 meter spaces are still being distributed for the community for non-commercial purposes.
Overall, Tapachula Station is already working as a new urban, cultural and iconic hub for the most important city in the south border of Mexico. It is connecting two sections of a formerly broken city and providing room for activities that are well going beyond our project expectations.