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Landscape Architecture in Latin America: Unpacking Theory, Practice, and Agency, Panel 2

Landscape Architecture in Latin America: Unpacking Theory, Practice, and Agency, Panel 2


[MUSIC PLAYING] OK. Welcome, everybody,
to the second panel. We’re very lucky to be joined
by Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, who will do a brief introduction
to this second half of this wonderful,
wonderful symposium. Please welcome Dean
Mohsen Mostafavi. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, [INAUDIBLE]. A few things. First of all, thank you very
much for all of you being here. I know how much this event
matters to so many of you. Hi, [? Jenna. ?] And also
to Anita Berrizbeitia. And sadly, because of
some family situation, she couldn’t be with us. I know she really
wanted to be here. So partly, I’m here
because I love this event and I’ve sort of
watched how it’s been planned and been in progress. But I also know how much
Anita wanted to be here. And the fact that she cannot be. There are two things that are
immediately kind of important. One is that you know
that at the GSD, the whole focus with the
group Women in Design has been an important part
of the culture of the school, which, in a way, it’s
always been there. But it became even more
focused a few years ago around the whole
discussion of the Pritzker. There are many political issues. It’s not just about
women, in a way. It’s really about the attitudes
and the way in which there has been, in a way, a
fundamental, institutional kind of problem that
has been at play. So we believe in, really,
total equality and equity. And we find that
there are institutions who have created complications. So it was really amazing
to see how the GSD students and Women in Design being not
only women, but women and men together, can really
address those issues. The other one is really the
question around the importance of landscape architecture. And I think everyone knows
that the school, especially over the last 10 years or
so, has focused a great deal on landscape architecture,
because we feel that landscape architecture has
gone through such a significant transformation
in terms of the way that it’s positioned itself
and the way that it really impacts social transformation. Because in terms of
people’s perception, it has definitely shifted
from being focused or being understood to be focusing purely
on garden design or parks. And the scale of
landscape has changed, and it’s become much
more, obviously, significant at the territorial
scale and the way in which landscape really interacts
with questions of urbanization more broadly. And I think in this school, we
have obviously hired people. We have cultivated students. We’ve cultivated
the kind of research that has been very
important in terms of enhancing the value and
the significance of landscape architecture. And that is also attested to
by the kind of big research projects, by the growth of
the Department of Landscape Architecture, and so on. At the same time,
now we see that there is the juxtaposition
of landscape architecture and Latin America. And this, again, is a topic that
is very close to our hearts. You’ve seen– last week we had
the mayor of Mexico City here. Gareth Doherty and I spent some
time in Chile and in Brazil to promote the Portuguese
and Spanish edition of ecological urbanism. Charles Waldheim has been there. A number of people who’ve
been involved with the school are playing very
important roles. And it’s fantastic to see
friends of this school and graduates of the school
playing such a key role in that part of the world. So one thing that
is noticeable now, in the context of Latin
America, as far as I can tell, one is really the
question of pedagogy and the importance of
landscape architecture as part of the future
education or graduate education at institutions
in that part of the world. And at the same
time, it’s really the importance of
the discipline itself in terms of societal
transformation, in terms of really big
questions of urbanization. So I think this is why
it’s also so timely to have this combination of
landscape architecture in Latin America. And I think it’s also great then
that this panel this afternoon, if I understand
it correctly, will be dealing more specifically
around the questions of the role of
academia and policy, which is featuring Fabiola,
Elena, Loreta, and Martha. And I know that
Sonja has already been introduced this
morning, but she’s also going to be moderating this
session this afternoon. So please welcome
Sonja Dumpelmann. [INAUDIBLE] Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Mohsen. So I am charged here with
moderating this session on academy and policy. And our first speaker
is Fabiola Lopez Duran, who holds a PhD in the history,
and theory, and criticism of architecture
and art from MIT. Prior to joining the
faculty at Rice University, she was the 2009/2011
Mellon post-doctoral fellow in the humanities at the
Department of History of Art at UC Berkeley. And she, prior to
that, actually was awarded a number of
pre-doctoral fellowships from various
institutions, including the Harvard Center for European
Studies and the Fulbright Program. Fabiola is very interested in
processes of modernization, in particular in Latin America. Her forthcoming book,
Eugenics in the Garden– Architecture,
Medicine, and Landscape from France to Latin America
in the Early 20th Century I just heard is now in press. Or– Yes, good! So I’m very curious to hear
her contribution today. And please join me
in welcoming Fabiola. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, Sonja, for such
a lovely introduction. And thank you, the women in
the assigned group, [? Adria ?] in particular, and
the Latin GSD group who are doing such a
great activism and that put this together. And I’m really amazed by
what I have heard so far. So what I’m going to
share with you today is a little, tiny piece of my
book Eugenics in the Garden that is going to
be out hopefully at the end of this year. I’m going to do a real effort to
concentrate the main arguments of my book in a
very particular case study that happened in a very
single space in Rio de Janeiro. So let me just see
how this works. So should I use this one? The green. The green [INAUDIBLE]. OK. OK. My story begins at the
critical global moment in which scientific discourses
articulated in France crossed the ocean
and then became intertwined with the discourses
of architecture, aesthetics, landscape, and urban planning
in early 20th-century Brazil. At the epicenter of this
ideological encounter was the utopian
project of eugenics, the social and
biological movement that has strove for nothing
less than the improvement of the human race using
heredity and environment as its primary tools. This very form of eugenics
based on Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory of the inheritance of
the acquired characteristics conceptualize evolution
as driven by adaptation to environmental
changes in contrast to Mendelian eugenics–
let’s say the mainstream eugenics– which
view evolution as impervious to the environment
and driven solely by genetics. The plot of my story is
driven by Brazil’s conviction that eugenics was its critical
instrument in the crafting of a modern nation. The belief brought
together a diverse cast of characters, politician,
technocrats, scientists, architects, and
intellectuals alike. From the physicians– I’m wondering if I’m
doing the right thing. OK. From the physicians
and architects of the Parisian Musee social,
the early French think tank that sought to address France’s
pressing social question, to the physicians and
architects in Rio de Janeiro who formulated the theories,
practices, and ethos of Brazil’s social modernity
to Le Corbusier who began formulating
a eugenics ideology precisely during those months
he spent in Brazil in the 1930s. My story’s narrative revolve
around these individuals all converging in a
particular territory at the center of Rio
de Janeiro, essentially a eugenics laboratory. In the early 1920s, a
highly dramatic event occurred in this very territory. The battle against the
bubonic plague, yellow fever, and other tropical diseases
had led to a radical sanitary and urban reform that
reached its climax with the spectacular demolition
of an entire populated mountain located at the center of
the Brazilian capital. The idea of eliminating
the mountain was not new. As far back as 1798,
a medical report had argued for the
mountain’s demolition since, according
to the author, it acted as an enormous
barrier that blocked the circulation
of air from the sea and consequently facilitated
the proliferation of diseases. But it was not until the
1920s that aesthetics and moral reasons were
added to sanitary ones. The mountain became the
very negation of modernity itself, a reservoir
of vice and disease, a place of a marginal
population, mostly poor, blacks, prostitutes,
and former slave who, according to the elites,
invaded the center of the city, quote, “with their embarrassing
practices of superstitions and misery.” End of quote. At that time, medicine
became the principle tool used by the elites to
study and then reconfigure the national population. It was only at this point when
hygiene, until then understood as personal or environmental,
became social hygiene and economic science
concerned with the outputs of human capital, production,
and reproduction– that the demolition of the
Morro de Castello was possible. So this dramatic
demolition, which generated an extensive
territory immediately occupied by the 1922
international exhibition commemorating the 100th
anniversary of Brazil’s independence, represented
the first and most radical action in the construction of
the new national image free of backward associations
and racial exoticism. In other words,
the exhibition was conceived as a self-portrait of
a modern nation, a nation that undertook a self-remaking
process not only of its milieu but of its population. The more-than-500-page catalog
for the exhibition explicitly described the
exhibition as, quote, “displaytion of the constructive
energy of a new race, a race able to triumph in the
battle between man, mountain, and ocean.” End quote. Promoting itself
as a tabula rasa, the exhibition represented
a literal triumph over the territory, a
territory now cleansed of its history of
unwanted inhabits. Its catalog is striking in
its complete elimination of all traces of the African
and indigenous component of the Brazilian culture. With the exception
of one article briefly mentioning the
abolition of slavery, the catalog presents Brazil
as a quiet, white country. An examination of
its images provides an excellent demonstration of
a new alliance between beauty, health, tropicality,
and modernization that the Brazilians
adopted to represent themself and their nation. As you can see, in most
publicity materials, white men, women, and children of classic
Greco-Roman appearance, wearing red-white
robes and crowns, were arranged against a
transplanted, European-looking heel and gardens to frame the
architecture and machinery of modern factories. And just as humans
were portrayed as icons of the ideal, so
too were natural monuments released from the tropical
fatality, politicized as new icons of
collective identity, and moralized as elements of
transformation directly linked to the reimagining of the body. In several advertisements,
the catalog exulted the natural monuments
of Rio de Janeiro, particularly those human-made
or human-dominated. In fact, an advertisement
for a medication portrays the pan de
azucar as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It also celebrates
the Corcovado, the extraordinary mountain
at the center of the Tijuca forests, the world’s largest
human-made urban rain forest, which will be crowned
a few years later with a monumental, 40-meter-tall
statue of Christ the Redeemer, gracing the Morro
de Costello while transforming two other
mountains within the city into sites of pure
aesthetic pleasure. Tropical nature,
now monumentalized, is portrayed
precisely as the site of the interplay between the
body, labor, and technology. But the exhibition
not only represented a triumph over nature, but
a triumph over degeneration. In fact, the first
Brazilian Congress for the Protection of
Infant, an essential part of the exhibition, was at the
core of Brazil’s transformation of puericulture, the
French faith-based science, into a new Lamarckian
form of eugenics. Revealing the influence
of French medicine on Brazilian medical circles. The debates in Congress
focused on the importance of puericulture, the
term that Adolphe Pinard, the French physician and member
of the Parisian Musee social, revitalized as a human
analog of agriculture for the scientific cultivation
of the mother and child unit. Echoing Pinard,
Brazilian physicians were convinced that
puericulture, quote– I’m sorry– that, quote,
“a child was the result of the forces in equilibrium–
heredity and milieu– and that consequently,
puericulture was one of the most
accessible ways of conserving and perfecting the
human species–” end of quote– while whitening the population. Sorry, [INAUDIBLE]. OK. So as the catalog was overrun
by Hellenic-looking people, the demolishing
mountain’s footprint was suddenly overrun by
neocolonial pavilions and even by a
splendid hydroplane port built to provide a
glorious entrance to the city. The adoption of
neocolonial architecture was followed a few years
later by an invitation to French Beaux-Arts architect,
a member of the Musee social, Donald Alfred Agache,
to formulate an urban plan in the language the elites
had identified as their own. Curiously, the neocolonial
and Beaux-Arts styles were interchangeable
as representations of the visual ideology
of the country. And Agache’s invitation suggests
an interesting complicity between science and
aesthetics in the practices of physicians and architects. Agache’s proponents in Brazil
were physicians supporting the neo-Lamarckian ideas
proclaimed at the Musee social, where both Pinard and
Agache were active members. Of course, the elites were
not a homogeneous group. But they seemed to
agree on the image they wanted for their cities. Even Mario de Andrade, one
of the main protagonists of the Semana de
Arte Moderna, who celebrated Brazilian identity
as a mixture of the foreign, the indigenous, and the
African; and Lucio Costa, the famous architect who will
develop super-modern Brasilia, the capital ex nihilo of
Brazil, were open supporters of Jose Maria [INAUDIBLE],
the Brazilian physician who became the most
vehement promoter of neocolonial
architecture and also the main advocate for
the appointment of Agache to develop the urban master
plan for the Morro de Castello Esplanade. In 1928, in a series of
articles, Andrade, in fact, celebrated the role
of architects working for the normalization
of the neocolonial as a Brazilian
nationalist style. In many ways, the
modern attitudes sought to homogenize this city
and, with it, its population by eradicating
undesirable inhabitants, and proclaiming
the Esplanade to be a political and economic
altar to power infused with white, European forms. It was not a coincidence
that all these– the demolition of the mountain,
the elimination of the Rio de Janeiro’s original urban
nucleus that was in the Morro de Castello, the displacement
of its poor inhabitants, and the construction
of the exhibition pavilions– was executed almost
simultaneously with the policy some mandate such as the
white-only decree of 1921, which literally prohibited
the immigration of blacks to Brazil. Nevertheless, it is
interesting to observe how Mario de Andrade and the
other organizers of the Semana de Arte Moderna in Sao Paulo,
in their frontal attack on what they believed to be a false
modernity, embraced by those controlling Rio’s
art establishment, paved the way for
an art tradition that branded Brazil from
then on precisely as tropical and heterogeneous. These three well known paintings
that I’m sure most of you have seen before
by Brazilian artist Tarsila do Amaral
brought to center stage two elements associated
with backwardness– primitive, untamed nature,
and those people who the elites wanted to overlook– Indians and blacks. These two elements were the
very territorial targets of transformation– of
the eugenics movement– tropical environment
and non-white people. The painting on
the left, Abaporu, which means “Man Who
Eats” into [INAUDIBLE], the language of a tribe that was
said to practice cannibalism, was the very painting
selected to illustrate the 1928 of Oswald de Andrade’s
influential Anthropophagite, or Cannibal, Manifesto. By adopting a metaphor
for cannibalism and thus implying the
need to eat the enemy to appropriate his
best qualities, Andrade championed Brazil’s
suggestion of European culture, metabolized now into something
original, truly Brazilian. This was the first declaration
of a culture unique to Brazil, in which Anthropophagite became
its constitutive element. In this way, the tattoo was
transformed into a totem. But let’s get back to the
centennial celebration in Rio. One must ask, why did the
organizers of this exhibition selected the neocolonial
style to represent their new, modern country in
the centennial anniversary of their independence? In other words, what do these
two images– white people and neocolonial architecture–
have to do with one another? No one illustrates
this connection between race and style
better than Lucio Costa, who, in 1928, made this
racist and forgotten link in a newspaper editorial. Quote, “I’m pessimistic about
architecture and urbanism in general. All architecture is
a question of race. When our nation is
that exotic thing that we see on the
streets, our architecture will inevitably be
an exotic thing. It is not just those
half-dozen who travel and dress on through the [INAUDIBLE],
but that anonymous crown that takes strings from
Central Station and Leopoldina. People with sickly faces
who shame us everywhere. What can we expect
from people like this? Everything is a
function of race. If the breed is good and
the government is good, the architecture will be good. Talk, discuss, gesticulate. Our basic problem is
selective immigration. The rest will
change on its own.” End of quote. Thus, the neocolonial,
which was, in a sense, anti-modernist,
pro-Iberian, and white, was appropriated as the emblem
of progress and modernity, suggesting that Costa intended
for his eugenic syllogism of breed begetting good
government begetting good architecture to
work also in reverse. In any event, the
neocolonial white style represented in almost every
pavilion at the exhibition was declared by the
government, from 1922 to 1938, to be the national
style mandatory for every building that would
represent Brazil abroad. Perhaps this need to
present modern Brazil as a homogeneous white society
was behind the omission of race as a demographic factor
in every national census from 1890 to 1940. This omission was not
the result of a need to promote a
race-neutral society, but of the fantasy of a
much-desired white Brazil. This is a very
interesting diagram. And it was presented at the
first Brazilian Congress of Eugenics in Rio to show
the Brazilian whitening process that forecasted
a country with zero Negro by 2012. At the time, the diagram
upset, irritated everyone, but not because of its
ideology, but because of the opposite–
of how long it would take to achieve a white Brazil. I’m sorry. It should not go so far. But OK. Brazil became a laboratory
where the built environment was used as an object of
racial transformation. In Rio, from the demolition
of the Morro de Castello to the use of neocolonial style
as a symbol of white Brazil, architecture became
a eugenic technology. In this context,
it’s very significant that Le Corbusier’s
working sketch for the series of lectures
that he will deliver in Rio during the
summer of 1936 placed the image of a simple man
in a horizontal position at the base of his notes. Notice that in the last
phrase of these notes, when Le Corbusier writes,
“achete [INAUDIBLE] Carrel,” he reminds himself to
buy the book by Alexis Carrel, the French Nobel
Prize-winning physician who had just published in 1935 his
best-seller Man, the Unknown, a book later
considered a manifesto for white superiority,
intellectualism. The rest is cryptic. Castello, Lucio Costa, Carlos
[? Porto, ?] Pedro [INAUDIBLE], and Castello [INAUDIBLE]. The sketch brings together the
mountain, Morro de Castello, with the names of Brazilian
modern architects, the most important
French eugenicists, and the representation
of the simple man who became the object
of transformation for Carrel, Le Corbusier,
and, as we know, for Brazil’s government. What made Le Corbusier
think of Carrel while thinking of Rio Janeiro? Was Carrel’s theory of the
salvation of the white race at the core of Le
Corbusier’s ideas on landscape, urban
planning, and architecture? It is not a mere coincidence
that “Castello,” the greatest eugenics laboratory
in Latin America, is the first word that
appears on the cardboard. It was the pulverized
mountain from which hundreds of inhabitants were displaced. It was the esplanade
that remained after this devastation
that became the stage for the
1922 exhibition and its image of white Brazil. It was also the epicenter of
Agache’s urban plan, intending to cleanse the city of
disease and undesirables, where he also visualized
a tropical land cultivated and healed for the
enjoyment of white people. And finally, it
was also the name of the new building for
the Ministry of Health and Education, the
institution that will be in charge of developing
and enforcing Brazil’s eugenics policies for Getulio Vargas’
new authoritarian regime. The building for which
Lucio Costa was chosen as the leader of the design team
and for which Le Corbusier just happened to be invited
as a design consultant will be located on the very
site where the Costello mountain once stood. In fact, the association
between Carrel and the built environment
will become the trigger point for much of Le
Corbusier’s thinking over the next several years. But it was in Rio during
that summer of 1936 that Le Corbusier
clearly aligned himself with Carrel’s ideas. I promise I’m– 30 more seconds. Evoking Carrel’s eugenics
book, Le Corbusier commented to his
audience, quote, “Plun, the editor who published
my book on North America, celebrates the success of his
latest book, Man, the Unknown, by Dr. Carrel. Right, he told me, a book that
will be an echo of that one. I will do it with pleasure–
the man and his shells.” This appears to be
the very first time Le Corbusier made public
reference to Carrel and his work. This card/board note, where he
linked Carrel and Rio Janeiro with the sketch of
a man, was the spark for new theories
first articulated in the Rio lectures that
will become a viable doctrine on the remaking of man, of
a new, entire way of life, of a new relationship
between man and nature through which the
built environment will be put to work.” In the end, this is not just
a story of Brazilian modernism nor a story of European
scientific concepts applied to the Americas. This is a transnational
story that grapples with theories
of modernity, modernism, and modernization, which
places architecture at the very center of
the eugenics agenda of white supremacy. So what the French
thought was going to be the pure and
direct materialization of Lamarckian eugenics, in
fact, turned out to be much more a negotiation between
positivist ideologies and Brazil’s innovative approach
to its racial and environmental reality. Thus, in its search for
ameliorating the race, this new eugenics-founding
architecture, urbanism, and landscape design
both is technology in its ultimate aesthetic form. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much, Loreta– sorry. I’m sorry. Fabiola. This was a wonderful
contribution. But next we have a
tandem, actually– Loreta and Elena from Mexico. Loreta Castro obtained a BARC
from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico and a
degree from the Accademia di Architettura di
Mendrisio in Switzerland, where her thesis was
directed by Peter Zumthor. She also holds an MAUD Degree
with Distinction from Harvard University, from here. And she was also the 2010
Druker Travel Fellowship recipient and has been awarded
with diverse awards and prizes, such as the CEMEX– am I pronouncing this– yeah? CEMEX– you say that this way? OK, CEMEX [INAUDIBLE]
Scholarship, the Abraham [INAUDIBLE] Prize,
and the [INAUDIBLE] Young Creators Program Scholarship. She’s the co-founder
of Taller Capital. And she has led projects
with institutions such as the Institute of
Social Sciences of the National Universidad Nacional Autonoma
de Mexico and the Centro Mario Molina. And Loreta currently teaches
at the School of Architecture at this university, at
Taller Hidrico Urbano. And then Elena Tudela
received a BARC with Merit from the Universidad Nacional
Autonoma de Mexico in 2009. She earned an MAUD degree
from the Harvard GSD in 2012 and a
scholarship, actually, that brought her here. Then that was what she was
awarded for that purpose. So she is currently
a PhD candidate at the Graduate
School of Architecture at the Universidad Nacional
Autonoma de Mexico. And she recently received tenure
as a professor and researcher at the School of
Architecture, where she forms part of the
Taller Hidrico Urbano and at the Graduate
Sustainability School. She recently coordinated
the urban design and studio, and participated in the
design of La Quebradora Park in Iztapalapa. I– this is probably a real
mess that I’m currently making of these terms. So please accept my
apologies for this. I do need to kind of
take up Spanish classes, I’m realizing here. So. But Elena also
co-founded the agency at the Resiliencia Urbana,
the Urban Resilience Agency. So I’m looking forward to
hearing from both of you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much
for receiving us here. It’s a great honor to be here
at Piper and speaking again at the GSD. And we’re going to be
talking about the work we’ve been developing at
the Taller Hidrico Urbano of the School of
Architecture of UNAM, which actually somehow started
in the rooms of this school. So to begin with, I want
to show you Mexico City. Some might know it, some not. But this city, which is based
upon a traditional Renaissance grid, used to be a lake
system and was positioned on top of this system with a
very sensitive urban design, where the environment was
totally taken into account for the design of the city. The city actually was
built upon the system of [INAUDIBLE] canals. This is a photo of
Xochimilco, which is what remains today of the
ancient way in which our city was developed. And I’m going to go back
a bit to this map, which is the map of Cortes. It’s the first map of Mexico
City, the first-ever drawn map. And it shows how the
city was structured through four large
avenues and the center, and was surrounded
by these pieces of floating land, which
are the chinampas that you can see here. So this waterscape was
totally transformed. And its transformation was
somehow slow and started with the Hispanic conquest. So we have a set of images
here, where you can somehow imagine how this happened,
how the city center started with this traditional grid. And slowly, the
land surrounding it started to become desiccated and
populated by the urban fabric. And the whole story
happened and started with this artificial
opening, which is called the Gash of Nochistongo. So Mexico City has
this particularity of being placed inside what is
called an [INAUDIBLE] basin, which is a closed water basin. No natural water exits. And that’s why the basin held
this system of five lakes. When the Spanish
arrived to Mexico and the conquest was
done, the new urban system was somehow imposed based on
these Laws of Indies, which had these rules of how
cities should be done. And it was established
in that way. And the city– short
after, it started to become continuously flooded. And this became a
very big problem. So 100 years after the
[INAUDIBLE] city was founded, the engineers that
were supporting this new urban design
decided to open this gash, so that water had a
new, artificial way of going out of the basin. And with this gash, a history
of hard infrastructures started, helping the city
become larger and larger. So this shows how the city
was when the Spanish arrived and then, through these
artificial openings, how the lake started to
become desiccated, leaving free land for
this infinite grid to expand until today,
where this is true. And it happened in
just, like, 50 years. We have no more lakes, and we
have an enormous and infinite urban fabric. And today’s basin– if you
recall the other drawing– is like this. We have a very big
city that works water-wise based completely
on hard infrastructures. So we import water and
we export waste water. We export waste water through
the largest waste water drainage system in the world. It’s really high-tech. [LAUGHS] And it’s really big. And then we treat
that water, or we will be treating that water also
in the largest water treatment plant in Latin America. And then we import
water with one of the largest water importation
systems in the world. [LAUGHS] So as you
can see, we are really top on this kind of technology. And then we also extract
water from the aquifer through deep drainage
wells that are compared to those that extract oil. The latest and the most
deep that has been built– sorry, I’m going back– is 2,000 meters deep. And all this infrastructure,
which is, as I told you, like, top, is causing a lot
of problems in the city, because it has
really transformed our natural environment. So the first thing is
that the city is sinking. This is the
Metropolitan Cathedral, who sank 10 meters in
the last 100 years. And then urban floods, which
are caused both by extraction of water, but also because
of our ground, which is an impermeable ground,
because it held a lake. And then this urban
hydric paradox, where we have not
enough potable water and then we have
all those floods. So based on all this really
compromising situation, where there’s no more space
for drinking water or drinking water has
a really hard time to come into the
city, we decided to start working on how a
parallel system for providing better water water management to
the city could start happening. And these are some
examples of cities I visited with the Druker prize
given by the GSD, about how other cities in the world
have historically but also contemporarily handled
water through urban design. This is coal ash of the
lake cities in China– [INAUDIBLE], specifically. And how all these
wetlands that surround the cities are transformed
into rice grounds, and how the cities,
although they are walled, are all constructed
through a network of canals capable of managing water. This is Curitiba, which
has a very big flood plain. The entire urban fabric is
surrounded by green spaces. The lowest one is this one. So when it rains, the
runoffs concentrate in this part of the
city, causing no harm to the inhabitants. Or Venice, that is
built completely thinking about how to capture
every single raindrop that falls in the city
with these squares– sorry, [INAUDIBLE] — that are
also cisterns and that have the wells that are able to open
those cisterns and pull water from them. And then Hyderabad in India,
which has a lot of cisterns, or regulatory basins, that are
able to capture drinking water and that have lately been
transformed into urban parks to protect those water basins. So based on top
all these projects and on the very large problem
that water means to Mexico City, in 2011, we decided
to create the Taller Hidrico Urbano at the School
of Architecture. OK. Thank you. So I’m going to talk
a little bit more about what the THU, or
Taller Hidrico Urbano, which means Hydric Urban
Workshop, or Studio, means and what it entails. It’s been going on since 2011. The past three years,
it has been operating as a special thesis seminar
with a special space for our students,
which we got to select. And so it’s got a lot
of new opportunities. So part of the work we do– it’s
a one-year-long thesis seminar, which Loreta, myself, and
[INAUDIBLE], incidentally all women, teach at the School
of Architecture at UNAM. It’s working, as Loreta
already mentioned a little bit, on alternatives to
water strategies, where we can connect hydric
cycles with other types of contexts, such as geographic,
social, and political, cultural contexts. So it’s more like doing
projects that are decentralized and that become a different
way to practice with a water sensitivity. So these are the places
we’ve worked before. So each year is
one different site. And sometimes there’s
been a year where students pick their own sites. And so you can get
to see, more or less, that we’ve only been out of– the white line is Mexico City. And so we’ve only been out
of Mexico City’s limits once, which is Zumpango, the last
remaining lake on the north. So these are
basically the sites. And each year, we switch. So what we use is a
theoretical background for these students’ work,
because our students do not have a regional
approach to problems. And as many Latin American
schools’ architecture is meant to be approached
as a one-lot problem. And so we’re faced with students
interested in these scales and in sort of like
working with landscape and working with urbanism
as much as an architecture. So we need to give them some
sort of framework for them to operate. And so we use several
of the textbooks that we know from here,
in that many of them have come from the GSD
to sort of help them out in this multi-scalar approach. And so what’s
interesting is that they read certain texts
and certain articles from these books
and many others. But they do make their
own mind in terms of how to adapt it
to our local context. And those conversations
become really interesting when each student
uses them in different ways. So what we’re more
most interested in is an applied research
practice grounding Mexico City’s environmental,
social, and political aspects, which means landscape
even though none of us are landscape architects
trained that way. Landscape became
the lens that allows us to actually
approach these problems with a more or less complex– that we can use to understand
the complexity that entails making all of this
happen in the same project. So it allows us for a
systemic thinking lens. So that’s why we’ve been
involved in landscape projects and landscape frameworks
for all the work we do. And this is an example
of the multi-scalar work our students do. This is all student work. And we get to see some regional
master plans at some point. So depending on the site, and
depending on their approach, and how we define
the problem, always, when we talk about
water and hydric cycles, we need to go to
basins and we need to understand that type of
topography, geology, et cetera. So sometimes it
becomes a master plan. Sometimes it becomes a
very specific project at an urban level. And sometimes it becomes
objects or even graphic work. Something that is very important
for us at Taller Hidrico Urbano is that we link all our
projects to real clients, or necessities, or real
institutions that we work with. So we have some of them here. Some are governmental. Others are interested in
projects like museums. So it’s very important
for us to always operate within a real context. And that has allowed
for some of the projects to become a reality. And this is a case of
Tlaltengo, a project that’s near what Loreta
described as Xochimilco with a chinampas landscape. This is very close to that area
and operated in a similar way at some point in history. And so this project began
as a thesis seminar, and then it became
a real client. Government environmental
agency became the client for this project. Unfortunately, it could
not be implemented for political reasons. But the whole project
took a different dimension when it became a
real, true project. And these are some
of the research lines that we have worked on. And this is all students’ work. We have, for
instance, the research on urban rural landscapes. And a little bit we’ve
talked earlier today about this one in particular. And how there are certain
points where Mexico City is very interesting, because
we have a megalopolis, we have this huge city, but
it has a lot of rural activity and agricultural activity still
happening within its limits. So that makes it
very interesting. And this particular project
was done in the north but was still very
interesting in terms of how to make those happen
and negotiate those needs. We’ve also worked within
the consolidated city and how all of these
lines of research are related to the urban and
hydric context of the studio. But when we’ve worked with
the consolidated city, it’s interesting to
try to find the gaps and to try to find the
opportunities to operate within those two subjects– the city and its water needs. And these are some of the
projects that have come as an outcome of that research. We have also worked with
affordable housing, which, in Latin America, is a huge
necessity, a huge topic to work on. And so what’s interesting is
that these students are not thinking in terms
of just the house and how it works
within just the unit. So these students are
trying to understand what ties them to the water
bodies that are close to them, the infrastructure that
links them to the city, and how this goes back
to the house itself. And they end up designing
the inside of the house in resonance with that study. Then we have a lot of
students interested lately in public space. So we are also working in
terms of how water becomes the center of this public
realm and how that shapes not only the physicality of
a built environment but also the culture, and how we
become more in contact with our condition. Currently, Mexico City does
not understand its relationship with water, topography,
its basin, even its conservation
land, which lies on the outside of the city. And people are not conscious
of that relationship or even that the land that they’re
standing on used to be a lake. So these public space projects
help understand that past and also change the
way that we manage water in public space projects. We also have worked with
tradition landscapes. I guess this happens a
lot in Latin America. And it’s very interesting
because it operates a– how do you incorporate
all these traditions that are currently
taking place in the city, but are not accounted for? And most projects don’t take
them into consideration. And so these projects
try to do that. And another one is
cultural landscapes. We have also recently
tried to connect with a museum that’s interested
in the culture of water. And so that’s like the poster
of the exhibition, where the students participated. And they’ve done these
art installations working with different
artists to understand how to do something in terms of
the water culture in the city. And now we’re going to talk a
little bit about one singular project that we’ve
been working on. And I leave it to Loreta
to introduce the project. So this project, which is called
Parque Hidrico Quebradora, we decided to present
it, because it’s been a very particular case. And it’s been a work that has
taken us around four years to develop. It started as a research
project at the university. Then it was somehow left alone. So I took it upon the
studio to continue it. And one and a half years
ago, we found the sponsorship of the government
to make it real. So we formed a
multi-disciplinary team with people from the university,
with architects, landscape architects, engineers,
sociologists, and biologists, and planners,
politicians to start putting this project forward. And what’s interesting
of this project is that, for us, it
sets the beginning of a new way of managing
water in Mexico City that could become an alternate
and parallel system and infrastructure through
landscape and soft strategies. So Quebradora is
located in Iztapalapa. Iztapalapa is one of the
poorest boroughs in Mexico City. And it transformed itself
from the ’40s to today from first lake, then dry
land, and now the city. The site had this use. It was not a regulatory
basin, but it is capable of catching runoffs
and making these runoffs infiltrate really quickly. So we took upon
this characteristic. And after looking around it
and examining it carefully, we realized that it became
like a blocking part at this used area,
public space– speaking. No. So it became a barrier
between these two areas of this borough. And it was also left with no
other use but water management. So people didn’t even understand
that it had this purpose. This is how we found the
site one year and a half ago. And this is how the
site looks today. We’re not going to
go too much in depth. It’s just like a quick
overview of the project. But with this material,
we started the design transformation. So this is sort of like what
we envisioned for this project. And it’s interesting because
this project is currently under construction. So it’s expected to be
finished by next year, mid-next year more or less. So for us, it was an
amazing experiment first because of what
Loreta mentioned, that we’re designing
with many disciplines. And for me, it
was the first time that we were trying to
come up with a project that is not between two
or three people, but between 20, 30
people and even people that residents or citizens near
the park would be involved in. It’s interesting to say
this park is more important or is more relevant because
of the site it’s on. It’s one of the most marginal
areas within Mexico City area. Of course, it started
being an informal area, and then eventually, the city
just caught up with them. But the poorest
people live here. It’s a very dense area, if
not the densest of the city. And they have almost no
green areas, public space available for them. Almost non-existent. But they’re also in
contact with the mountains that you see at the
back, volcanic mountains that are conservation land. But they cannot use it. They cannot take advantage
of it as a public space. So this would
really make a change in the way informal
cities are retrofitted with this kind of projects. And here, what we can see–
sort of like what Loreta already mentioned, the infrastructural
character of this park was vital, was part of the most
important part of the park. And we also need to
take into account that this park had to be very
low-maintenance, remembering what was mentioned earlier
today in terms of Chapultepec. I think it was [INAUDIBLE] Maria
that mentioned Chapultepec, which is this very iconic park. We know that that’s not
the way to go currently because of the means. We don’t have the
means to maintain it. It is one of the most expensive
parks in all of Mexico City. So as much as we love it,
we know the future does not hold many Chapultepecs. So we’re thinking
this medium-scale park that actually has an
infrastructural role is very important
for public space but also for water management. So it became a
great opportunity. Luckily enough, it’s still
there, this infiltration basin. And we can see here
some of the images that we are envisioning,
using materials. And this alluding a little
bit to what has been said earlier today
in terms of the rock. And we’ve thought
about this a lot– the materiality of the
public space itself. Because it has to
be low-maintenance and it has to be easy to build,
easy to everything, right? Cheap. And so the rock, which is
sort of like the reason why the water filters right there,
it’s because it’s a rock bed. So we’re using
that rock to become part of the visual
character of the park. And then also, we are
envisioning this park as an open museum
of water management, where people can actually
begin to understand what happens to
water when it falls and what role it plays not as a
closed lot that filters water, but actually as a place where
you can see how it operates and how a wetland
area cleans the water and allows it to
become available for people of the area that
have almost no drinking water. They have drinking water
once a week, I think. More of these images. We have two main
buildings that have some programs such as a
bookstore, and a museum, and a cultural center,
stuff like that, restrooms, because people
don’t have, as we mentioned, water in their houses. So restrooms were really
important for the project. We have a huge amount of them. And this is a [INAUDIBLE]
construction process that has already been going. And for us, it’s important to
talk about this park not only as an experience
in design, but also as an academic experience,
because we believe that the fact that an academic
institution is behind it is what makes it
feasible, is what makes people trust the process. And so I believe– or we
believe that Latin America has a huge opportunity within
its academic institutions to make changes and to
propose alternatives. Because there’s a lot
of reliance on research that comes from them. And there’s also the fact
that policies usually, at least in Mexico City, do
not come before development. Usually development or
informal settlements come in, and then legislation catches up. So these kind of projects
that may seem little or may seem small in proportion
within the whole city become really important,
because they start showing how things can be different. And then legislation
can act behind it if social pressure is
large enough behind it. And I think that’s one of
the important takeaways from our academic experience
and probably a discussion we can have later on. Thank you so much. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much,
Elena and Loreta. So our next speaker
is Martha Fajardo. Martha is a Colombian
architect, urbanist, and landscape architect. She holds an honorary
degree of Doctor of Letters from the University
of Sheffield. And she is co-founder and
CEO of Grupo Verde Ltda, a firm dedicated to the
professional practice of landscape
architecture, landscape urbanism, and urban design. She’s also the co-founder and
chair of the Latin American Landscape Initiative. And she represents the landscape
architecture profession in the working group of the
World Environmental Hubs Initiative. And she serves as the World
Urban Parks America’s region co-chair. So please join me
in welcoming Martha. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much
to Harvard University and all the wonderful ladies
who organized this event. My thanks forever. I was using the name you
put on this symposium. And I was a little sad,
because I said, “Unpacking Theory, Practice, and Agency.” And I tried to translate it
into Google to understand what was the meaning. Because “unpacking”– it
doesn’t translate correctly. Then I said, well, I will change
my presentation into something which is not unpacking,
not theory, yes, practice, and a lot of agency. So it’s with– this– what? Oh. What is the– It’s here. And it’s the [INAUDIBLE]. OK. The green one. Yeah, the big one. OK. Sorry. Latin America. You all imagine Latin America
as vast, green, wonderful, diverse, erotic, an Amazon who
spans eight countries in South America and who has the
highest diversity on Earth. And the Andes, which goes
across Argentina to Venezuela. That’s the land, it
happens, I born in. It’s a land, it’s a
territory full of knowledge, of traditional
knowledge, knowledge from our ancient
cultures, knowledge that we are now trying to
look and to understand– as we have seen the
conference before me– to understand how
the Aztec, the Incas, the Muiscas worked
with water, with land in a very sustainable way. This Latin America, the crucible
of intangible communities– how wonderful is Latin America. We can talk each other,
even with the Brazilians. And we do understand
each others very well. And it is the role– this challenge that 80% of
the population lives in towns. And Latin America is full
of very chaotic towns, but also very creative cities. That’s where the new paradigm of
landscape architect is coming. Medellin, Curitiba, Sao
Paulo, even in Mexico. So we always– when I go
everywhere in the world, they always say,
violence, crime, cocaine! Yes, it’s true. But also, it’s true of hope. And Fajardo Mayor in Medellin,
he present us from fear to hope, the hope that
things can be changed, the hope that if we are
close to the landscape and if we reside in places
that are green, resilient, and livable, we will
be good citizens. And that’s something
that we have learned. And that’s why we
are working together beyond borders, invisible
borders, professional borders, political borders. Once we understand like
birds who fly on the air, working together, I’m sure
we will be a better society. That’s why I changed
my presentation and I said, well,
I must tell you a little bit of my life, a
life which has been wonderful because of the landscape. The landscape become, at a
very early age, the language of my life, a language that,
it happens, to understand when I was a little girl. And for the first
time, I saw the Earth. And since then, I was fascinated
by the colors, the immensity, but also the tiny, beautiful
of the ocean, the mountains, and the greenery, especially
the greenery in Latin America. And then at a very
early age in my life, I understood the power
of the landscape. It happens that I born in the
most tiny place in Colombia, the coffee region,
which produces the best coffee in the world. And I was a little girl. I opened the window
in my farm, and I saw this beautiful landscape. And it was a coffee-sustainable
production with trees, with bananas, with avocado,
but also with birds, with butterflies, and beautiful
workers that always smiled that made my life a challenge. A challenge that when I
study architecture in Bogota, I didn’t understood what
architecture was about. Then I said, I must
go study a master in landscape design, not
landscape architecture– design. And I went to England,
Sheffield University, where I have a
wonderful experience. And I understood that
beyond cities, we have to work not only locally,
regionally, but globally. And that’s how, in 2003, as an
IFLA International Federation landscape architect, I was
the president for four years. That’s one thing that the
curriculum didn’t say. But that was a challenge. It was fantastic. 67 countries. And this little girl was dealing
with a huge transformation of that fossil organization. And the right to landscape and
the trans-frontier cooperation become my mandate. And I work influenced
by a very old man who said, coming together is the
beginning, keeping together is the process, but working
together is a success.” And we work together
with the influence of part of the European
Landscape Convention. We start to work regionally. We went to UNESCO. We talked with the
Union of Architects, the [INAUDIBLE], the planners. Let’s work together. Let’s have a global
convention of the landscape. But UNESCO, the Americans,
and the French, they said, no. The rest of the world say yes. So we start to work regionally. And Latin American
Landscape Initiative, the Australian
Landscape Initiative, the New Zealand Landscape,
African, and the Canadians. So we all mostly cover. We only need United States
of America and India. And that will be
the whole world. Why Latin America? Because I finish my role
as an IFLA president. And still, I have
the energy to work with wonderful people,
especially women, who, all together, we work
with these guiding principles– that we must recognize
landscape as vital. We have to consider of living
beings, not only the nature, but also the butterfly, the bird
deal with every day landscape, integrating biodiversity,
expand knowledge, and inspire good practices,
and the legal aspect. So we make synergies with
the Spanish Observatory of [? Cataluyna. ?] And
I just want to say– the role of woman
in this initiative has been amazing, because
we care for the land, because we understand
the people, and because we know
how to keep the house, and because we know how to talk
with mayors in a very coqueto– how– [LAUGHTER] I love you, mayor. And so mayor will say, do it! So in Medellin, 2012, we
signed this initiative. 400 people. Diana was there. Diana is part of this
movement of 18 countries– Argentina, Bolivia,
Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador,
Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Paraguay. All under a concert. And butterflies light
the Garcia Marquez– yellow, golden, and
pink butterflies when we were signing
this declaration. And we have been working since
then very hard every year. We meet all over Latin America. We set up different clusters. We work like the cells. Network of network. Knowledge network that
interlock, that lend learn each other from the other. And we have the
cluster of education. This panel is education. I am not an educator. I am not an academic. But I am a dreamer. And a dreamer can
solve many things. And we have the glossary of
communication, education, civil society, which Diana
is the leader, catalogs, and good practices. And we will celebrate the
five years doing many things all year around. And I would love to invite all
the students, all the Latins, and even the Americans who would
like to be part of this journey to be with us. This is part of the
coordinators of the initiative. Some are landscape architects,
others economist, lawyers, politicians. And as I said, women,
we have this leadership in the landscape field. Not only landscape architecture. We must work as a transversal. The landscape matters. And the second
part of my speech, which is going to be quick, is
about my professional practice I have time to work also. And I will say, landscape
design in my own backyard. It’s about connecting people. It’s about building resilience. It’s about inspiring vital
and sustainable places. It’s about love. It’s about happiness. When you see this lady
looking in my homeland after a terrible earthquake– 2,000 people died and
the town was destroyed. And we reclaimed that
city by the landscape. The landscape become part of the
new local economy in Quindio. And this is my office. And it happens that I married
the most beautiful man, a Japanese. Can you imagine a
Japanese with this person? And this man is a
biologist with a master’s in landscape planning. And has given the
office all the meaning from that humanism, that
bound with nature that he has, and I have, and we have
inherited from him. I will now talk
about the projects. There are several scales. Many of them are now
under construction. But what I want to tell you is
that creating this statement– from the right to
landscape, we need to demonstrate the
value and power of the landscape [INAUDIBLE]. Creating places that are
sociocultural, responsible, and sustainable is at
the heart of what we do. The power of our
profession is to show that places can be healthier,
fairer, resilient, and greener. And that investing on the
landscape is not a cost, but saving. It’s a strategically
designed tool that opens all
[INAUDIBLE] society and inverts physically
and metaphorically. But now that in Colombia
we have changed hands, we are now in a
process of peace, the power of the landscape
professionals is amazing. So in this exercise, we
took a very complex area in downtown Bogota, and
we started to think, how can we reclaim
an urban landscape through tactic urbanism,
social urbanism, and landscape urbanism? The three together are the
answer to this proposal. And which matter most? Every day or
outstanding landscape? A landscape matters, yes. But today’s landscape
are the most important. The role of the landscape as
an activism is very important. In this case, landscape
architect with civil society in a bottom-up process
beyond boundaries, we work with the community,
we collect the budget, and we reclaim an urban park
for the people for the joy to be together, for a place where
culture and encounters are every week, a place
where people can– the fat, the black,
the poor, the rich– can be all together
watching a film at night. So really, landscape
architecture is becoming a very important
profession in Colombia. Not only that we are
leading, with the architects, the planners, but the
mayors, institutions are becoming to understand
what we do is very important. This is a project
that we just won. And I am the leader. And we have 45 people
working together. It’s 4,600 hectares,
which is about 11 acres. And we have the budget. And it’s going to
be mayors of Bogota, larger park in Colombia. And this park will be his
landmark on sustainability. And we are trying to understand
the region, because it is secret land for the Muiscas. So we will be doing
a project that– it is related to the nature of
the site, always using birds. I admire birds. I would like to finish, because
I’ve received the notice. And two minutes. Coming back from my land,
this is my beautiful land. We will celebrate in November
the five years’ anniversary of the [? Lalli. ?]
And you all are invited to be in this garden,
to be in this sustainable region, which happens
to be a coffee cultural landscape by UNESCO. And we will celebrate with
a symposium, with a fire. We will make la
fiesta del paisaje. And just we want,
in this symposium, to present the Latin American
Landscape Convention, but also the Colombian landscape
[INAUDIBLE] in that event. And I will finish
with this little boy I met in Cartagena
de Indias when we were doing a very
large project, surrounded the walls, the fortification. He was so happy that we will
make a park, a place for him, for his family, his friends. He’s gone, but
the air is coming. What a wonderful time to
be a landscape architect– creating better places for
people and for the planet, allowing us to build for the
happiness and well-being. This delightful air contains
everything we have– the joy of adult children,
the quiet sunset, the coffee we drink,
all the hopes and dreams for well-being. Today this world
looks small, fragile, and it behooves landscape
architects, designers, to work on [INAUDIBLE] is truly
[INAUDIBLE] as ambassadors for the Earth’s landscape. This will lead to
reconciliation and protection not only for the
environment, but for those who are oppressed. Gracias. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much
to all our speakers. And I would like to
invite all four of you to join me on the panel. Thank you. Thank you very much again for
these wonderful presentations. And I was wondering, while
I was listening to you, it seems all of you
trained in architecture. Is that correct? So maybe, could you
talk a little bit more as to what brought you to either
a topic that actually deals– in Fabiola’s case– in part,
at least, with landscape, for example? So what brought
you to landscape? We just heard the
best advertisement for landscape
architecture, I think, that I’ve heard in a long time. So. [LAUGHTER] And now Elena and Loreta, you
being in an architecture school but basically having adopted
landscape architecture as the field but also
landscape as a medium that you’re working with. So I’m wondering
whether you could let us know more about this
interesting transition, in a way, that
has happened here? Why do you feel compelled to be
working in these new areas now? Well, I guess that there
are several answers for that question. I was trained as an architect. And then I worked for
several years in a museum as a curator of architecture. And also, I taught
at the university. But when I came here
to MIT to my PhD– well, this has to do
with a personal story. But I was just out
of a treatment. I’m a cancer survivor. So I was really interested
in understanding what happened with the body. And I think that that
kind of personal curiosity drove me to take very MIT kind
of classes, like in robotics, and the history of the
body, and things like that. And I ended founding this
fascinating connection between medicine
and architecture, and the understanding
of nature as something that is not natural at all. So in that process, I ended
finding one important component of my research,
which is the built environment as this incredible
agent in the implementation of the eugenics
movement in Latin– but the French eugenics movement
that was medical in origin in Latin America. So let’s say that something– I mean, only the main thing
that basically connects all the different
components of my research is nature, the
understanding of nature. And it’s the understanding
of that there is nothing mothering in Mother Earth. I know that you are in this
[INAUDIBLE] you maybe are not and you maybe don’t agree. You disagree maybe with that. But it’s like a kind
of reality that I think that we need to understand
in order to move forward. Martha, there were at least
five, four men in your office. Correct? Ah-ha. Yes. There are men and women. And most of them, they are– one is engineer, but he’s
a landscape architect. The other is an
architect and also make landscape architecture. So all of them have
a second title. But talking about why we
choose landscape architecture when the profession– it was not common
at all in Colombia. No school at all. There were only two
landscape architects. And it happens that one of
those, Alfonso [INAUDIBLE], went to the university
in the last year. And he gave such
a wonderful speech that inspired a lot of people,
especially three of us– in that year went to
Sheffield University, and the other colleague,
Gloria [? Pointi, ?] who has established the
master’s degree in Medellin. And you have seen all
those fantastic projects in Medellin who are
very much attached by these cosmo [INAUDIBLE]
of spice of life. It’s because of
Gloria’s department, the strong belief that we have
to develop our own identity from the school’s. As for myself, I actually don’t
consider myself a landscape architect although I know
I deal with the tools. But I think what
brought me to landscape is this union of how I
learned architecture, about how to
understand the site, and which things should be
taken into consideration to design whatever you design– like, from a spoon to a city. And then about all
the sensitivity that needs to be put in place,
about how you understand materiality, how you
understand atmosphere, what needs to be taken into account. And then these together
with what I learned here at the School of
Design and how you understand the strategies of
the city and of the environment. And maybe these two
put together are what somehow draws our
practice into this side of more towards landscape when we
talk about urban design and how we approach
this urban design in a city like Mexico City. And obviously, with
the topic of water, which was born here
from my thesis– it was my thesis that I started
working on water in Mexico. How do you manage
water in Mexico City? And then how it evolved with
the Druker price, the Taller Hidrico, and to the point in
which we are designing parks with this background. So somehow, I see it
more like a toolbox where you take what you
have in hand and sensitively understand what the
problem you’re dealing with and how you respond
to that problem. For me, well, I think I’ve been
indoctrinated by the GSD too to love landscape
in so many ways. But then after leaving
the GSD and practicing, I realized that
urban design lacked, at least in the
context of Mexico City, that part that studied
the environment as a more complex, natural,
artificial entity which required a lot of the knowledge
that landscape architects have. So in a way, it’s true
that we don’t have that– the School of
Architecture at UNAM has a very small
landscape department. And so it’s still
very incipient. And all of a sudden, we’re
being landscapers, in a way. Is there a lot of friction
between what may still be diverse fields and
diverse disciplines, where not quite in the– I mean, I tend to say, yes, we
are kind of post-disciplinary, in a way. But not quite, right? You’re still talking
about departments, We certainly have
our departments here. So is there friction? How does this work out? What do your
architecture colleagues say now that you
are the ones who basically seem to be
very successfully leading some projects here? It’s interesting, that
question, because I believe that landscape,
at least in Mexico City, is considered to be very
traditional landscape architecture, not in
the way of gardening, but in a lot of
biological knowledge. And what we’ve
been doing has more to do with infrastructure
in a more contemporary lens to landscape, which
is what’s taught here. And so we’re not competing. We actually
complete– I mean, we can integrate our
work really well, which is interesting enough. Because we don’t
have that knowledge in terms of biological
information. But we do know how
to make it work into a more systemic approach. So I would say. And I would also add that us
coming from the Architecture Department, they don’t
see us as aliens. It’s somehow like,
OK, they are taking that approach on whatever
project they’re doing. But it does feel
a bit of tension when we deal with
landscape architects, because somehow, we
step on their feet, in a sensitive way, because
we don’t do it like we want to make them step aside. Not at all. We include them in our projects,
because we lack that part that Elena is talking about. But somehow, when
we first arrived with the approach of what
we’re going to try to solve, the way in which landscape
architects treat us is like, to begin with, it
might be wrong. And then maybe they
give us a chance that it might not be that
wrong, especially when we make them part of the team. So that’s been part
of the strategy– is to incorporate all the
professions in the team. Because it’s the only way in
which we can work together. It is kind of [INAUDIBLE]. So would you say, would you
describe what you’re doing more relating to urban design? So an urban design
activity that maybe was not fulfilled by the architects
in the department? Yeah. What I would say regarding
that– because when I was here in 2010, the Department of
Urban Design and Planning was going through a rough state. Like, the director
was being changed and there were a lot of changes. And actually, that’s
when they put together urban design planning
and landscape somehow in the same office. And that’s how I was
taught urban design. I think also Elena, because she
was only one year after myself. So it was like a mesh of
all these three ideas. So I think that’s what we
are trying to put forward. It’s somehow coming
naturally, not with many– And we also need
to open this up. But one more question
also for all of them. But Loreta– Hi, hi. Can I add just a little thing? Because this panel
is about education– how to empower Latin America
to have more schools. Actually, it has been a
capacity knowledge project, which is led by IFLA,
International Federation of Landscape Architects. It’s co-sponsored by UNESCO,
IFLA, and each university. And the first
capacity project was done in Rio de Janeiro in
order to teach professors that teaching in
architecture or in geography to teach for landscape
planning, or landscape design, or landscape architecture. The second one was in Medellin. And the outcomes has
been very encouraging, because you will see how
the profession is developing according to new schools in
Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, even in
Venezuela with this crisis, and in Mexico. So I think one other matter. Since we are here in Harvard
and you have the power, that would be lovely if you
can have a capacity knowledge project back in Latin America,
because education is so needed. It’s a proposal. [LAUGHTER] Fabiola, where do
you see history coming into the equation? I don’t know whether you
have still a lot of contacts, personal contacts maybe
to your native country and to universities
in Latin America. Because it also starts with
the teaching of history of the respective fields. So in this case, this
would be landscape history or related design histories that
relate to landscape, as you so beautifully have showed
us in your example. Well, I’m Venezuelan
but my scholarship is not in Venezuela. So I had been working on
this transnational connection between Latin Europe and Latin
America, but specifically in Brazil, Argentina,
and France. And right now I’m
in a second project that has to do with Argentina,
Uruguay, Cuba, and Spain. And I’m moving back and
forth across the Atlantic with my research. I’m a historian. I’m really interested in
what history, what art, and architecture,
art history has to teach history, plain
history, and how history matters for political
and social issues that we are living today. So my work basically
focuses on the first half of the 20th century. But I think that it’s really
important for today’s problems, the problems that
we are facing today. So in my teaching
philosophy, I will say that one very
important thing for me is the transnational and
interdisciplinary approach that allows us to see the
complexity of the problems that we are visualizing. And because my main
focus of interest is the built environment,
it goes back and forth between art, urbanism,
utopianism, landscape design, and architecture, and
engineering, geography, et cetera. So I don’t limit myself
in terms of what I found. It’s what the archive
tells me to keep going. Right. Thank you. So we have a little bit
of time for questions. Hi, my name is Pallavi Mande. I’m the Loeb Fellow
this year at the GSD. And just first wanted
to compliment you all. It was very inspirational. My contact with Latin America
has been pretty limited. But I know being in the water
field for as long as I have, I can see so many connections
between the work you’re doing and what I have been dealing
with in the context of the US. My question really is I was
glad to hear Sonja frame this as how you all
being traditionally out of the discipline of
landscape architecture came to the realization
that that’s what the scale and discipline is
that you wanted to make your work
relevant and influential. And personally, I’m coming from
the urban design, architecture, environmental planning, trying
to be a landscape planner, designer in this one year here. I want to understand
that connection that you see in trying to bring
multi-disciplinary perspective to your work and how much do you
think is just you as a person, as a woman, feeling like
the nature and landscape is a part of what you are and how
you respond to the environment that you work in? I take two seconds
to say somebody who came to me wanting to
work with rivers and saying, I don’t really come from a
traditional training in this. I know it’s something
that inspires me. And how do I go about
solving these issues that we see in our current rivers? And I could simply
say, if you feel the river flows through
you, you can definitely make a difference. So I just wanted to sort
of put it back to you guys and hear your perspective
oh how much do you see this as a personal drive
beyond the disciplinary aspect? Well, thanks for your
question and your comments. I think for me, I don’t
think it’s a personal– I mean, it’s personal in
the way that I’m doing it. But I don’t think it’s a
matter of personal experiences, because part of my PhD research
has to do with resilience and resilience in Mexico City. And a little bit in the
same way that Fabiola just mentioned how history
just makes her go through different
disciplines without realizing the boundaries are
there or not, I think when you talk about
resilience, the same happens. You realize you’re within
borders of disciplines that require mediation. And sometimes you
don’t find what you need to be able to
understand processes within one single discipline. So I don’t think it’s
a personal project. I think it’s a need. It’s something that’s happening
whether we like it or not. Because if we talk
about certain topics, that’s where it leads you. And the main problems, at
least in terms of resilience, lie within those borders,
where urban development says, this is as far as I go. I don’t want to go
into conservation land, because that’s not my thing. And then landscape architects,
or biologists, or people studying natural
environments say, I don’t know about
anything urban-related. So then there’s this point where
things actually break, where that’s the most dynamic border. And that requires that you
understand both languages, and you deal with both,
and yet you try to mediate. So for me, it’s personal
for me, but I don’t think it’s a personal problem. And I would say it also
departs from an interest on making something change. I can’t speak that. Like, in that sense,
it’s personal for me, because for me, it’s
really important to try to put a step on
how water can be managed differently in Mexico City. And then you just need to flow. And it guides you
I don’t know where. I’m still trying to decipher,
because right now I’m in another set of
different issues regarding the construction of
the park, for example. So you start touching any
different kind of things– politics, deeply into
politics, and how can you manage politics, how can
you manage different groups of people, all the community? And then the same team. How you deal with teams with
maybe 98 people or whatever, and everyone with a different
interest, a different agency. So it’s more like if you
want something or try to make a step on
something, it surely brings you to enormous
encounters with whatever. I don’t know. So to build on that,
I was wondering if any of the panelists
could speak to a bit about the translation of
landscape architecture, about the history to various
universities where you teach or work, and maybe also,
for the practitioners, how the translation of landscape
architecture methods and maybe building methods are
taught within each setting, and how those then
translate to the built work that you’re trying to
get done in cities? So maybe just
speaking a little bit to the work that
still needs to be done or the various ways to translate
landscape history or methods to each setting? Well, maybe can
comment about a course that I’m preparing
that I’m going to teach in Rio de Janeiro for
Rice’s [INAUDIBLE] this summer. And it’s a class
about Rio as the city. But it’s a class that basically
is divided into three themes that I consider very important. And the first one that
I call [? Paisaje– ?] the Tropical and
the Modern, it’s more about the engineering and
the transformation of the– the engineering and the
social engineering– just let’s say
the transformation of the landscape as a kind
of environmental enterprise. So when you go from these kind
of environmental thinkings to more political issues about
the crafting of a nation, the modernization of a country,
you go from issues of engineer to issues of politics to
aesthetics, let’s say. And I think that
at the end, what you are doing in that
very particular process of approaching
landscape is trying to see how the most serious
problems of today’s time– from racism to climate change– the solution for
them is actually not only in the laboratory,
but also in the humanities and in lessons that we
receive from history. So I try to go back and forth
in between history and practice in order to be
pedagogical, let’s say, for architecture students. And you mean like
regarding how you teach how to build landscape projects or? Or specifically, how to
work with water [INAUDIBLE] city [INAUDIBLE]
something that we’re also trying to learn
in whatever setting. And even at the GSD,
we are empowered with a certain set of theories
and ways of learning here about those issues. And because you’re working
with students on a project right in Mexico City, it
sounds like right now, I was wondering if there are
specific things that you’re learning on the ground? Yeah. What we usually
do is approach it from the strategy point of view. So the whole studio
focuses on putting on the table strategies for
water management at the term inside. It depends. Each year it changes. So all of the time, we
do our research part. And then there’s like
this very important moment in the semester when
strategies must be built. And the students
need to condense the strategy in a sentence. So when they get to this
sentence, then we say, good? Now you can start the project
based on this strategy. And that’s how we
are trying to deal with how they approach
water, the term inside from a standpoint. I don’t know if that’s somehow– I don’t know. [INAUDIBLE] I’m trying to get to the
fact that these projects need to get built. And how
does that translate? We don’t teach that. We should teach that. We’re learning that. [LAUGHTER] We’re students of that still. So we are almost
running out of time, but there’s one more question. Yes, thank you. My name is Santiago. First, congratulations
to the four of you. Great lectures. This question goes directly
to Elena and Loreta. I’m Mexican. I’ve lived in Mexico
City, and I’ve dealt with the
complexities of trying to bridge the gap between
academia and the real world, and also align yourself
with your practice to huge and very huge
bodies of institutions that have a lot of inertia. And I feel that one of the key
points that you touched upon– and Elena basically laid it
out in a very clear way– was to try to blur this limit
between what academia is and what the transformation
of the city can be. I think that it’s an exciting
time to be in Mexico City and to be at the
national university. I’ve seen from my side
but also with your work. So how do you see this
process of interaction between academia and within
academia themes of your nature and the institutions that
actually guide actions to transform cities
in Mexico City, as a case study,
but Latin America, if you want to broaden
the perspective? Well, I think it’s
very political, as Loreta mentioned already. And you need to have a lot of– be very wise in those terms. It’s not easy. It’s not easy to move around
not even within academia. And of course, we’re
talking about UNAM, which is one of the
largest universities in the whole of Latin America. And you know, it’s
a public university, so it has a different vibe. We have 5,000 students
just in architecture. Yeah. It has a whole
different magnitude. But it is very– as
Loreta said already, we’re learning how to move, swim
in the sea of uncertainties, and learning how to do that. And collaborations
are basically the way we’re finding how
to bridge this. This project of La
Quebradora that we presented operates within the
Institute of Social Sciences and is linked to
local government. But we’re participating from
the School of Architecture. And then we have the
School of Engineering also providing
what we need to be able to do this and
implement it in real life. And so that– I think it’s an
interesting question, because I think in Latin America, academia
has a very important role or can have. And it’s an opportunity that
we should take advantage of, because not only it’s
trustworthy for the people, which, socially speaking,
in Latin America, we have that issue of
not trusting whatever comes our way, no matter what. And so coming from
this institutions is a huge progress. It’s like having a key. And so you’re
already one step in. Now you have to
deal with everyone. And as we said, it’s
designing with 50 people. It’s a challenge. Even like, how do
you design that? It can’t be done on a paper,
because nobody can see. So you have to project it. And then like, what do we do? So it’s still an experiment
for us, at least for me. I don’t know how
you feel about it, but it’s very interesting that
way in terms of collaborations. Just with [INAUDIBLE] think
what’s the good side of it– and what I’ve encountered is
that it’s somehow a new idea. I mean, it’s not new because
it’s been done in other parts and it was done before. But it’s new to the
time we’re living. How I saw it is that
there’s this idea. There’s a project that
we think can work. And then we need to back
it up really strongly, so that we can present
it to the authority and so that the authority,
the community buy it. So then we find UNAM as a really
good backup for these kind of projects, which are
large-scale and which also cannot be handled
from a small studio, because government
eats the small studio. In Latin America– I don’t
know if in all Latin America. In Mexico, it happens so. If you don’t have a strong
backup, then even money-wise, it’s impossible for you
to work with government. So when you work
from the university, which is a very
large institution and which has a lot of power,
socially speaking, but also intellectually and
trustworthy speaking, then you can put forward
this kind of an ideas. And it’s hard for the government
to eat the institution. Actually, it happens
the other way around. So for us, it’s
been strategically to work with UNAM as a way
to start pushing forward these kind of projects. OK, thank you very much. And now I think we
have a coffee break. Do you want to make
some announcements? Hi. So we’re just going to
take a 10-minute break. We have some coffee
if you would like. But stick around. And we’re going to invite all
eight speakers and our two moderators for a
larger discussion. Thanks. [APPLAUSE]

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