The reconstruction of Mexico - Part 2

The title of the autumn issue of the Mexican architecture magazine Arquine «missing pieces» refers to the fact that a large part of Mexico is still not rebuilt even two years after the tragic earthquake of September 19 in 2017. On the one hand, reconstruction was delayed by the change of government a year ago, on the other hand very few Mexican homeowners have building insurance. This makes private initiatives, politically independent and financed by donations all the more important.

Arquine presents various exciting reconstruction projects. Particular attention is given to the large-scale projects in the villages. Many architects see reconstruction as an opportunity to take care of social housing projects in general, which are a rare commodity in Mexico. In addition, Mexican architects consider it good manners to carry out social projects partly without payment. Some architects see their responsibility in educating the village population about traditional building systems and earthquake-resistant construction. After all, the majority of houses in the villages are self-built. Others are developing adaptable typologies that can be applied to a large number of houses without the effect of the monotonous grid construction that is widespread in Mexico.

1-4. Chapel of Alberto Kalach in Jojutla, 5-9. «Alameda» of the architects MMX in Jojutla 10-14. Emiliano Zapata school in Higuerón 15-17. Church of Dellekamp Schleich in Jojutla

In the village of Ocuilan, which was severely affected by the earthquake on 19 September 2017 due to its proximity to the epicentre, around 150 prototype houses are to be built over the next few years. The non-governmental organisation "Recostruir MX" brought together a large group of architects and other specialists after the earthquake. Well-designed architecture should serve as a wise investment here. The Arquine edition presents twenty projects in Ocuilan by the country's most renowned architects. Adapted to the needs of the families and the respective plot of land, the architects developed single-family houses that were allowed to cost between 200,000 and 600,000 pesos - the equivalent of 10,000 to 30,000 Swiss francs. Even by Mexican standards, this is an unbeatably low price.

A state-supported reconstruction of public buildings took place in the small town of Jojutla in the Morelos region. Situated only about 90 km from the epicentre, the devastation caused by the earthquake here was enormous. A delegation of architects travelled to Jojutla in 2017. In exchange with the population it was decided which public buildings should be replaced by new buildings: A chapel, a church, a park, a meeting place, a school and a community center. Through the new public spaces and buildings the identity of the place should be restored or newly created. The prestigious offices Alberto Kalach, MMX and Dellekamp Schleich were invited to realize the projects. The architects were required to work closely with the residents of Jojutla and to work to a tight schedule. The expression of the recently completed buildings communicates strength and a high earthquake resistance. The architects mainly worked with the architectural element of the arch and the material concrete. The new buildings stand next to destroyed residential buildings, whose financing for reconstruction is still uncertain.


This essay was published on werk, bauen + wohnen.

© LEARNING FROM MEXICO 2019 by Laure Nashed

 Die Beiträge von «learningfrommexico» entstehen in Zusammenarbeit mit der Schweizer Architekturzeitschrift werk, bauen + wohnen.