Jojutla Central Gardens
Jojutla de Juárez, Mexico
Jorge Arvizu Soto, Emmanuel Ramírez Ruiz, Ignacio del Río Francos, Diego Ricalde Recchia
Laura Alonso, Pablo Goldin, Daniel González, Diego González, Zabdiel Ramos
The arcades that coexist next to the gardens are structures that reinterpret the region´s traditional architecture. They serve as frames for the civic and leisure events required by the city. The selected materials were artisanal ochre brick, basaltic grey stone for pavements, and an extensive array of local flora species.
The generation of a civic square with a new identity was only possible by understanding and ordering the previously disarticulated spaces and giving each of the spatial elements a new role while keeping a strong relationship between them.
Different spatial and experience qualities were achieved for each of the spaces. Leisure and meeting points for the community, a civic square, and an open-air forum. Spaces that recognize and fortify the transit, pause, leisure, and encounter of their users.
The use of thoughtful architectural and landscape design generates shaded areas on the open plaza, creating diverse atmospheres throughout the gardens, ranging from a dense vegetation zone, with stone benches under tree shadows, to a civic square with hard pavements that holds its own social dynamics.
Mexico is one of the world’s most seismically active regions, sitting atop several intersecting tectonic plates. In 2017, an earthquake struck September 19th (coincidentally on the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earth¬quake), with an estimated magnitude of Mw7.1 and strong shaking for about 20 seconds.
After the devastation caused by these two earthquakes, not only physical but also social and psychological, the reconstruction efforts in the city of Jojutla began with an inclusive participative process, where the community got involved in all projects, especially the one destined for the main civic square where neighbors gathered, celebrated, manifested and encountered with each other on a daily basis.
From the perspective of architecture and urbanism, the seismic event is of great relevance for various reasons that affect the responsibilities of our discipline. The territory, its population, the physical and social infrastructure of countless communities and millions of individuals are at stake and seeking balance.
True reconstruction is not possible without reestablishing everything that has fallen. It is urgent to re-establish the interest of society for equals in disgrace, the knowledge that is born from the memory of previous experiences, the recognition of the different (and absurd) social differences in our country, the inequity in the distribution of wealth, and the population in the territory and the misery, as well as the lack of opportunities and security that are tragically evidenced by these events.
Faced with this scenario, the first thing that must be taken care of is social cohesion. The creation of gardens, complemented by two structures formed by the composition of large arches as formal elements that refer to the traditional architecture of the area was part of a fast-paced community dialogue, where the end-users and community members were both parts of an open, integrative process, resulting in a project made up of vegetation and traditional materials for a contemporary intervention that looks carefully at the place where it is implanted.
The local community has shown great interest in appropriating their new space, making it the main place to celebrate different festivities throughout the year, decorating the arcades at every opportunity, and making it a recognizable meeting place.
Likewise, the local government has been deeply interested in caring for and maintaining the space in good condition, which has helped to ensure that the landscaped spaces are in perfect condition. The involvement of the authorities has been essential for the promotion and care of the space, becoming one of the main assets of the local government.
The project has shown, both to the authorities in charge and to the architects involved, that citizen participation in public projects turns out to be a crucial aspect of their effectiveness, which makes us enormously proud.