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Towards a Water Sensitive Mexico City: Public space as a rain management strategy


An unprecedented effort to understand Mexico City’s current hydric metabolism, its related urban vulnerabilities and the possibilities of tackling these through a system of public spaces.

As an emerging platform for innovative ideas and actionable knowledge, Mexican Cities Initiative is proud to present Towards a Water Sensitive Mexico City: Public space as a rain management strategy. This project emerged from the prior work of a GSD alum, Victor Rico Espínola whose involvement in this endeavor crystallized, first in the development of the feasibility assessment, and later into the construction of La Viga Linear Park in Mexico City.

Towards a Water Sensitive Mexico City: Public space as a rain management strategy is the name of the recent study presented by the Public Space Authority of Mexico City (Autoridad del EspacioPúblico; AEP) in collaboration with De Urbanisten, creators of the Water Plazas in Rotterdam, and Deltares, a renowned Dutch hydrology and geology research institute. In addition, 100 Resilient Cities Mexico City Office and the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) also took part in this initiative which was financed by the Latin American Development Bank (CAF) and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

towards-a-water-sensitive-mexico-city-public-space-as-a-rain-management-strategy
Source: Towards a Water Sensitive Mexico City: Public space as a rain management strategy

Mexico City is facing serious challenges regarding its relation with water in the broadest possible sense. During the rainy season, certain parts of the City suffer flash floods that bring serious damage and represent a great danger. Causes can be found in the landscape’s topography, its vast urbanisation and lack of open green spaces, as well as in its total dependence on an extensive subterranean drainage system.

During the dry season there is on the contrary a serious lack of water, that has acute consequences on public health due to heat stress and a drinking water shortage; but this fluctuation also causes the dehydration of vegetation and land subsidence. There is either too much or too little water in the City, and this current system is preventing the establishment of a possible balance which could be brought forth by a circular approach.

The study poses a new approach to a long time problem and broadens the scope for implementation with a catalog of context-sensitive design solutions to face the paradox of abundance, yet scarcity of water. Under the motto ‘Delay, retain, store, reuse and only drain when necessary’ the document introduces a six-fold approach to each geographic zone within the city. By identifying possible solutions to restore the water balance in each, the study proposes a catalog of water sensitive strategies and physical interventions for each one of the six zones.

Vicente Guerrero Linear Park Rendering / Source: Towards a Water Sensitive Mexico City: Public space as a rain management strategy

This research has crystallized into two strategic projects that are currently being built in the city: La Viga Linear Park (in the Venustiano Carranza borough) and Vicente Guerrero Park, (in the Iztapalapa borough).

The full report is available to download here.