Saturday, May 16, 2009

GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana

GROUNDED: Ecology as Frame for an Informal Community in Tijuana
Harvard University Masters of Architecture Thesis
Quilian Riano
First of all, I want to thank everyone that helped me in the final push of the project, many staying with me until the wee hours of the morning for several days.

Big heartfelt thanks to:
Izabela (MLA), Joaquim Mendoza (Architect), Stephanie Tam (MArch), Simon Bussiere (MLA), Melissa Guerrero (MLA), Jonathan Evans (MArch), Neil Freeman (MUP), Pedro Santa-Rivera (MArchII, MAUD), Ilana Cohen (MLA), Darwin Marrero (MAUD), and Linda Chamorro (MLA). I also want to thank Eric Howeler, Teddy Cruz, Shauna Gilles-Smith, Christian Werthmann, and Margaret Crawford for listening and working with me.

This would have been both harder and not as fun without all of you.


Note: click on any image to see it in better resolution

Strategies to improve the social condition and clean the water of the Los Laureles Canyon (Haven't really changed since Midterm).

The Following Masterplan is a prototype for the new communities with commercial and social services I am proposing above (All together diagram).

The main issue the Masterplan deals with is WATER. How to control it, channel it, and how to make it a part of daily life. This means you need to be able to see it, your buildings need to react to it, and at times you need to be able to play with it.
Larger Version of this Axo

The masterplan uses a series of terraces to direct water into public landscape areas that run in the opposite direction. This water is channeled into six cisterns that in turn help shape the roofs and ground planes of two community sheds. Houses then plug into the community sheds for their utilities.

The Housing is comprised of a cheap and interchangeable system. As with the rest of the elements of the thesis the main purpose is to collect water. The house if self is comprised of an aggregatable 3mx6m module. One is enough for a studio apartment, two are good for a single family housing, and then they can be aggregated into row housing and other typologies.

I began with the argument that frames and infills (see the poster) are the best way in which architects can operate in informal contexts. However, often these systems, trying to let anything happen anywhere, have been generic, siteless, and universalist to a fault. My thesis was trying to develop frame and infill systems that are grounded and tied to the natural systems in their site while still allowing for flexibility and change overtime.

This took me out of my comfort zone many times forcing me to understand landscape and urban planning better. I am glad that this happened as I feel that these type of projects need to happen in a holistic, interdisciplinary way. I was happy to have four MLAs, four MArchs, two MAUDs, and one MUP helping me at the end of the semester. This is something I hope to do more of as I transition into professional life.

The final review generally went well. The jurors seemed to buy the project and its premise. The major question that came up is ownership and how it is dealt in this project. My answer is that I want to continue to develop the concept, but right now I am thinking that people would not own their lot. They would instead buy into the large public infrastructure and own the pieces that make up their house. Afterall, this is a community of migrants into Mexico many of them who are there for only some time. When you leave you can sell pieces of your house to other people in the network of new communities using similar systems all over the Los Laureles Canyon.

Another aspect that the jury seemed to like is that this is a real need and a real project. I, with Teddy Cruz's support, will begin working with Oscar Romo (the non-profit client) soon. What I designed here may not be 100% what gets built but it will influence that final outcome.

I reposted this in my Archinect blog


sellegr said...

Awesome project Quilian. The rain collector roof is a sickly executed idea. Major congratulations on finishing, thesis is definitely brutal!

Heath F said...

check out gaviotas and the use of water for low impact power generation... very cool model.

Anonymous said...

This look fantastic. I will do a write-up in my blog with link. Congratulations on your graduation, too. what's next on your agenda?