← Back to the Portfolio
  • Emily Kwok
  • Committee: Rene Davids | Tom Buresh
  • water + the city

The intent of this thesis questions the position of an architecture that resists. Mexico City was a good candidate to test this approach because it is sinking unevenly at a rate of 9-14cm per year. This is due to two factors, the population’s pumping of groundwater and because the city is built over a drained lakebed, soft silty ground that would rather swallow than support the buildings resting on it.

This project proposes that the settling ground levels can be incorporated into the design. The initial strategy will be to extend and expand the current activities of the Plaza by excavating a series of underground spaces. As the surrounding ground level shifts, these spaces are gradually revealed and reshape the urban topography over time.

The current identity of the Plaza – a space for concerts, art shows, performers, marketplaces, protests, celebration site, connection to subway and tourist attraction will remain. The spaces below will provide both an extension of, and because of the smaller scale of spaces, a reprieve from, these activities.

This system allows for the continual building of the new underground, creating a multi-level structure growing from the ground-down and over a series of epochs. The intent is for this to remain a functioning space on a day-to-day level, while also serving a symbolic reminder of the changes experienced over time.