Crisis of Relevance: The architect’s response to the housing shortage in Mexico City

Subject: Art
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 13
Word count: 3423
Topics: Architecture, Design, Mexican Culture
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Abstract

The crisis of relevance that the proposal intends to focus is the architect’s response to the housing shortages in Mexico City. The proposals intend to focus on the specific role the architects have played in resulting to the housing shortage in Mexico City.  The proposal will look at both ends of the menace of housing shortage that is facing the Mexico City. The housing shortage in Mexico may be due to the result of the role played by the architects, and therefore it is important to look at the housing shortage in Mexico City from the architect’s roles both in positives and negative perspectives (MONSIVÁIS, 2009).

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The majority of the housing problem that is being experienced in Mexico City can be attributed to the architect’s role. Architects are the one that is mandated in the urban planning of many cities. The architects are the one to design plan that will be able to sustain the growing population in the urban areas. Mexico City is not an exception, and therefore the architects have been given same duties to plan and design houses that are affordable and can sustain the growing population in the city. As a result, the problem of housing shortage that is being experienced in the City of Mexico can be negatively related to the role the architects play. The plan that the architects designed could not sustain the demand of houses in the city, and that is where the crisis of relevance lies (Adler. D, 2015, n.p). The architects failed in their role in designing the city of Mexico to serve the growing population.

To reveal how the architects failed in their role of planning and designing the state of Mexico, several case studies will be reviewed around the municipality of the Mexico City. At the same time, the proposal intends to look at other architects related documents that reveal how the architects should play their role when it regards the urban planning. Also, the study will use several theoretical backings that will help in expounding the role of architects. To support the fact that it is due to the failure of the architects that the Mexico City is facing a lot of problems regarding housing shortage, visuals and another type of videos will be described (Mumford, Lewis., 1996). Also revisiting of several secondary sources regarding the role of architects in the delivering of their mandate would be looked into.

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In the last few decades, there has been noted a tremendous increase in the population size in the Mexico City. According to a report produced by Mexico City Population 2017 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs),” 2017) Mexico City has got one of the largest population in the world with the hosting around 8.9 million individuals. The population increase has led to the housing shortage in the city. However, this problem could have been tackled by the architects who designed and planned the city. There are various roles that the architects should paly to help the society in dealing with the growing population regarding housing. However, the architects have been avoiding to play this role, or maybe they don’t know how to play those roles. Also, some are playing those roles part they are doing them wrong. As a result, it is important to focus on how the architects are misplaying their roles in designing and planning of the urban centers (Aghili. S, Medellín Rising, 2016). Understanding this point of what the crisis of relevance which is architect’s role in the housing shortage in the Mexico City from the bottom point of it, will help in coming up with new approaches to the designing and planning of the urban centers. Will help the architects to be able to plan and design the city in a manner that will accommodate the growing population increase. Also, the findings will add knowledge on the role of architects in helping the society and at the same time help scholars in conducting their researches.

Case Studies

To support the crisis of relevance that architects have contributed to the housing shortages in the Mexico City, several case studies are going to be evaluated to help in the revealing how the architects failed the city of Mexico in performing their mandated roles. The case studies intended to show what role did the architects do wrong.

One of the case study that reveals how the architects failed the Mexico City is the Neza-Chalco-Itza Barrio in Mexico City. During the 1980s Mexico City experienced a robust migration into the urban areas. Due to the migration, the people started to settle in areas that they had not be entitled to settle. According to a study conducted by the Mexico City center, it was estimated that more than 29 percent of the individuals who were in the urban areas of Mexico City occupied 384 kilometers and had no legality of occupying the land. The Neza Chalco Itza is one of the urban towns in the peripheries of the Mexico City municipal. The town is a host to one of the urban immigrants. The city is a host to a population estimated to the 4 million with people living in the cheap habitation of 80, 000 per square kilometer. The town is one of the biggest slums in the Mexico City. As a result of the large population, the town has been hit by housing shortages for the longest period. Due to the housing problem resulting from the increased population, the government came up with a plan to end the problem. The government decided to come up with projects in the urban houses that were suited for different economic groups. However, as a result of poor planning, the wealthy families that had been allocated some of the houses failed to accept them due to poor planning and designs (Benner, C., & Karner, A. (2016). The houses were therefore converted to be of the low-income earners rental. Initially, the project was meant for permanent wealthy families. However, the wealthy could not live in the neighborhood of the poor due to the status quo. As a result, the government had to turn the project into rental houses for the low-income families. It is estimated that for about 10 percent of the resident of the Mexico City live in the barrios.

The failure of the Neza-Chalco-Itza Barrio in Mexico City project was due to the poor planning of the project. The architects designed and planned the barrios near the area where the immigrants live (Smith, 2012). As a result, the area had high crime rate, disease affection, and even poor sanitation. The project was meant for the wealthy people and therefore planning and designing the project to be carried out next to the suburbs of the slum was poor application of the planning by the architects (Smith, 2012). As a result, the case study is a typical example of the crisis of relevance whereby the architects failed to redeem themselves when they had a chance to address the housing crisis in the Mexico City.

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Another case study that reveals how the architects have deliberately failed in their roles of addressing the housing shortage in Mexico City is Tlatelolco, Mexico City, 1964 by Architect Mario Pani. The project was initiated by one of the Mayors of Mexico City. The mayor commissioned famous architects to design houses that reflected the modern European workers and also the state employees. The government decided to conduct a development through implementing the most innovative buildings of the lifetime. The design was mainly inspired by the modern utopia of Le Corbusier’s which was a housing project. Architects who were hired to carry out the project design was known as Mario Pani, and he came up with a housing design with 102 residentials with varying heights from four to twenty-two floors.  The main reason for having the design be like the modern Utopia was just to improve the lives of the residents (“PREVI: The Metabolist utopia,” 2011).

However, despite the project being influenced by the modern Utopia and mainly embracing modernization, the project failed. The project was initiated to host residents of different economic muscles (Theodore, Peck, & Brenner, 2012). The project had been hyped by the Tlatelolco government and was seen as one of the solutions to the housing shortage that existed in the town (Gallo, n.d.). However, that was not the case. The failure of the project started by cost-cutting which led to the building being constructed poorly. As a result, when the place was hit by an earthquake the buildings collapsed. The other failure was that the architects designed the project without an inclusive of a maintenance plan. As a result of the poor designing, the houses were poorly maintained, and they collapsed. In the case study, it is evident that the collapsing of the building during the earthquake was a result of poor designing and planning by the architects (Herod & Aguiar, 2012). The architects in this case study failed to play their role correctly and in failing to play their role correctly have contributed to the housing shortage being experienced in Mexico City.

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The other case study that reveals how the architects play their role is the Ixtapaluca, Mexico City. It is one of the successful projects that have been undertaken in the Ixtapaluca Mexico City. The project was initiated to address the housing shortage in Mexico City (Tolstoy, 1975).  The government realized that there had been a problem in housing the large population. As a result, the government identifies the housing sector as a way to foster economic growth. The government decided to come up with a plan to house the people by constructing some houses in the Ixtapaluca are in the Atizapan municipality. However, despite having a well thought of the project, the architects hired to carry on the project failed in their role. The housing project was initiated to address the increasing population and their needs for housing (Velásquez Atehortúa, 2015). However, on designing the project, they designed it in a way that it cannot be expanded and to expand it will mean to demolish and then to reconstruct. The project should have been a sustainable project that will help in addressing the future population.

Critical research

It is estimated that by the year 2050, three-quarters of the world population will live in the urban areas (“Mexico City Population 2017 (Demographics, Maps, Graphs),” 2017). According to the author of the “The Endless City,” the word by the turn of the 21st century will be having one of the biggest challenges of population increase in the cities (Burdett, & Sudjic, 2010). As a case, the world must holistically come up with the various disciplines that are responsible for planning in the urban areas. The author insists that the precedented challenge has to be addressed now or sooner. The population increase will result in housing shortages all over cities (Kim, 2010).  A follow-up book on the same entitled living in the Endless city insists that the change in world demographics needs to be discussed and analyzed critically or else the world will come to the wake of an endless challenge of the housing problem (Burdett, Sudjic, London School of Economics and Political Science, & Alfred Herrhausen Gesellschaft für Internationalen Dialog, 2011).

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According to a case study conducted on affordable housing in Mexico City, there is insufficient housing in the Mexico City. Mexico City is one of the cities in the world that have been affected by what is currently known as globalization. The city is also one of the largest metropolitan areas in the globe with over 22 million people on a 2000km squared area (Claudia Santos Cortés, M.Arch, 2010). The city has been seen as one of the places that offer better life opportunities which translate to massive rural to urban migration. As a result, the city has been crowded and thus creating a demand for houses that the current housing sector and structures cannot supply. According to the marketing principle when the demand is high the supply is low the price goes up. As a result, of the demand people tend to live in the slums where there are poor planning and poor construction of houses (Frearson. A, 2015).

Mexico City has been receiving a tremendous increase in the population that lives in the urban areas. According to a report by the world population in Mexico, Mexico City alone is a home to more than 8.9 million individuals. The high population has led to the city experiences several housing crises (Cuthbert, 1995). One of the crises that mainly is associated with the increased population is the housing shortage. The housing shortage is the situation where few houses cannot be able to meet the demand of the same.

According to an article (Luis, 2013), the neoliberalism had a great impact on Mexico city. The globalization has led to the victory capitalism as the only way for economic growth as well as development. However, as the world was adopting the neoliberalism and globalization was promoting capitalism, the world was hit by the bank crisis in the early 1980s which resulted to the adoption of the free market policies in Mexico (Cutter, 2007). The free market policy entitled to capital movement and accumulation of wealth by individuals. The change of the economy from capitalism to the free market policy is what contributed to the urban migration. The migration was supported by the fact that the life in the urban areas offered opportunities to those who came to the city (Benner & Karner, 2016). Therefore, the population continued to increase in the urban areas. However, as the population continued to increase the demand for the houses to settle the new immigrants in town increased and the supply reduced. In the long run, it resulted in the Mexico City experiencing the housing shortage.

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However, the problem of housing shortage can be addressed by proper planning and designing of the houses that are sustainable and will be able to accommodate the future generation (“Architecture of Affordable Housing: Does Design Matter?,” 2009). As earlier mentioned there are professionals and various interdisciplinary that should come together to deliver the urban areas from the menace of housing shortages. According to Davis 1997 architect are among the professionals that can help the city from succumbing to the menace of housing shortages. Sam Davis argues that a good housing design is a delicate issue as it entails the balancing of the values of the community, the needs of individuals and even the aesthetic value together with the technical requirements.

According to Sam Davis 1995, a good design can save money. He argues that the largest percentage of the cost of constructing a good house is mainly based on good planning and even design. A good plan can accommodate the community dignity, and therefore the architects have the mandate to help in coming up with good plan and designs. In his arguments, Davis emphasizes that good designs and good planning are the keys to the housing shortage that is being experienced in Mexico City. Unfortunately, that is not the case as architects have taken another route that is emphasized on the value of money and not on quality and applicability to solve the existing problem (Thomas Weaver,, James B. Greenberg,, Anne Browning-Aiken, James B. Greenberg, & William L. Alexander, 2013). The new crop of architects has been overshadowed by the need for celebrity status and need for money (Davis, 1995). The architects and the media are tarnishing the value of good planning and good designs that can help solve the problem of the housing shortage. The architects won’t go for a project that is not highly rated by the media as they want world popularity and at the same time, greed for money makes them shy off from taking public projects and are only interested in private projects where they can reap big.

The problem of housing shortage can be blamed to the architect’s failure to come up with good plans and good designs. The architects are only interested in what fellow architects are doing. According to (Williams np), the architects are only interested in the projects that with earn them fame and will bring competition to the table. The architects are only listening to what they want to listen hear and not on what they are being told as the author argues. The architects are just repeating and addressing the same problem in the community instead of coming up with new strategies to solve others. Benner & Karner 2016 argues that the main causes of housing shortages in the urban areas are due to the poor designs. However, the architects who have the capability and skills to solve the problem have not addressed the issue due to their fame and status quo which do not allow them to do a design which is not worth millions.

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However, among the different research, the one that better explains how the architects have failed to help the community in addressing the issue of the housing shortage in Mexico is the one by Davis. Sam Davis emphasizes that the use of good planning and good design helps in solving the housing crisis (Davis, 1995). However, the architects mandated to help in carrying out the process of creating good plans and designs have failed to deliver on this mandate due to greed and want to have celebrity status something that has been propelled by media and valuing money.

Visual Evidence and Analysis

The following visual evidence and analysis will help in expounding on the crisis of relevance of how the architects have not been able to deliver their mandated duties. One of the visual evidence that I choose to analyze is about the video on youtube. The video is a lecture teaching student about the architecture with a major analysis on Mexico City. The lecture introduces his work by giving the principle underlying architecture. He argues that from his past experience and the vast knowledge acquired in the field of architecture, he says that architecture is not about the issue of shape, but it is an issue of understanding. The architects have to understand what the society needs to be able to provide it. Through the video, Arturo Ortiz argues that in Mexico City the situation of housing crisis does not need to be addressed using shapes but needs a deeper understanding of what happens on the ground (Learning from… Mexico City: Arturo Ortiz Struck, 2012). However, Arturo says that the architects, however, do not want to understand the society and therefore not being in a position to help in coming up with good plans and designs that can help in solving the crisis. The link to the video is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcQiTJiKsZ4

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The other visual evidence is a housing unit plan that was designed to tackle the problem of housing shortages in the urban areas of Mexico. As earlier mentioned, the Mexico City is one of the cities that has had several projects that had been initiated to help to deal with the urban population increase. The population resulted in crowding in the city which later translated to people leaving behind the business warehouses to go and live in places that are not crowded. The left was houses could be redesigned and be able to come up with places where people can live comfortably. One of the projects that have been initiated to deal with the housing crisis is the housing unit (“Existing Literature on the Role of Architects in Designing Post-Disaster Housing,” n.d). The design below was created to reveal how the housing unit can be integrated into the left warehouses and then have some residential structures.

The housing shortage in Mexico City is one of the biggest challenges that is facing the Mexican Government today. However, the architects have the professional mandate to help and solve the housing shortage. Nevertheless, the architects are the one to come up with good planning and good designs to be able to solve the problem. However, as observed from the various literature, most of the architects are not in a position to solve the problem because they don’t take new jargon but instead are focusing on the issues that their peers have already solved and improved on them. According to the Arturo video architects now value money than a good plan and good design. They want to privatize the architecture to the point of not taking projects that will not yield good money and the celebrity status appeal. The architects have failed in the deliverance of the roles.

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