2022 MCHAP.emerge to Infrastructure Project in Mexico

John Hill
22. September 2022
Photo: Rafael Gamo

Going under the full title, Containing the Flood: Colosio Embankment Dam, the winning project for the fourth biennial MCHAP.emerge is described by Taller Capital as reflecting the studio's interest in working at the "intersection between architecture and infrastructure," per a statement. 

Initially commissioned to design a park adjacent to Represo Colosio, an embankment dam built in the 1960s in Nogales, a city at the US/Mexico border, architects Loreta Castro Reguera and José Pablo Ambrosi "decided to intervene in the dam itself," transforming it "into a working infrastructure and a public and recreational space."

Photo: Rafael Gamo

Informal housing surrounded the dam in the decades after its completion, in turn polluting the dam through wastewater and, in concert with regular flooding, pushing the dam beyond its capacity. Infrastructural interventions have helped, with no issues since the project's completion in January 2020, according to the architects.

Pedestrian pathways and seating at the water's edge follow terraces that are structured in gabions, which further provide for the filtration of rainwater. A structure housing sports courts below a sloping roof is meant to give the project an urban presence and serve as a landmark for the local community, which has embraced it through the creation of local sports teams and other activities for residents.

Photo: Rafael Gamo
"A project solving infrastructure problems with the delicacy and sensitiveness of a thoughtful architectural intervention where people are at the core of all considerations. It is an example on how a vulnerable neighborhood can be socially and physically transformed by going beyond a resolution of a technical problem to offer the habitants public space to use, a linear walking promenade and a shade as a place to meet."

Sandra Barclay (Jury Chair)

Photo: Rafael Gamo
The MCHAP 2022 jury:

  • Sandra Barclay (Jury Chair; Lima, Peru), Founding Partner of Barclay & Crousse Architecture and Professor at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú
  • Mónica Bertolino (Córdoba, Argentina), Owner of Estudio Bertolino-Barrado and Professor at the School of Architecture, Urbanism, and Design at Córdoba National University
  • Alejandro Echeverri (Medellin, Colombia), Director of URBAM Centro de Estudios Urbanos y Ambientales, Owner of Alejandro Echeverri + Valencia Architects, and Distinguished Professor at TEC de Monterrey
  • Julie Eizenberg (Santa Monica, CA, USA), Founding Principal of Koning Eizenberg Architects
  • Philip Kafka (Detroit, MI, USA), President of Prince Concepts
  • Dirk Denison (Chicago, IL, USA), MCHAP Director and Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology College of Architecture, ex officio

Drawing: Taller Capital
Previous MCHAP.emerge winners:

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