Where does the city end? Where does the bus driver who takes you to work live? What to do with non-places? The debate on the limits of the city will be the core on which the sixth edition of the Mextrópoli, the largest festival of urbanism and architecture in Latin America. Taking Mexico City as a reference, Miquel Adriá, its founder and one of the most prestigious urban planners of the region, stands out as recipes "to pedestrianize historical centers, improve public transport and integrate informality".
From this Saturday, exhibitions, workshops and conferences by key names of the current scene, from the 2016 Pritzker Prize Alejandro Aravena, to the former mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, the architects David Chipperfield or Dominique Perrault, or those responsible for the municipal portfolios of urban planning and mobility sitting at the same table with Mexican real estate developers.
Question. Where does Mexico City end?
Answer. Like most of the metropolis, it does not end. A metropolis is not a bigger city, it is characterized by being polycentric and informed. As part of that informal condition we see how it interweaves with the territory, as it happens in Buenos Aries, which has that hand form in which lines that continue being a city are crossed. In Mexico City it also happens. The urban sprawl, for example, spreads through the State of Mexico and begins to have places that are not places.
P. What are those is not places?
R. For example, the back or what is below those great arteries, those peripherals that leave dead areas, without a name, without their own attributes. La Sedatu (Secretariat of Agrarian, Territorial and Urban Development) is proposing an intervention in these more depressed informal neighborhoods. We will have to see what the strategies are.
P. Which would be the most appropriate?
R. In Mexico City, we have heard that the neighbors will be transformed into a kind of local Airbnb for marginal tourism. I do not think it helps much.
P. What do you propose from Mextrópoli?
R. Privilege the public space begins on the sidewalk. We must privilege the ordinary citizen. Make the street more plural and transversal in this city that privileged cars from the middle of the last century. Improve public transport. The best is still the subway. You have to invest a lot in the subway and take the confined lanes for bikes and skateboards seriously, without oversizing them, but minimizing their risks.
P. What do you think of skateboards?
R. The greater the diversity of transportation, the more alternatives we have as citizens. Now there is an effervescence of skateboards. They seem especially fragile to me.
P. In the hardest neighborhoods there are no skateboards. Is not it an alternative that segregates instead of integrating through investment in public transport?
R. The companies do not take away investment from the public area, which should continue to prioritize the metro. They have to go in parallel.
P. How do you rate the service provided by the Metro?
R. It is the most effective way to move five million people. But there is much to be done, such as expanding the network to where people really live. Many of the stations stay until a certain point in which then there are private transports, many of them informal, that should be analyzed and see to what extent they can be integrated into a network.
P. For example?
R. In the south there is the alternative of mopeds that move 2 or 3% of the city. Its alot. You have to understand your own informal logic and try to integrate it as much as possible. I would convert them into electrical transports, I would give them electricity for a first term, I would create an app for their management and that way I could control them. According to studies we do with the university, people prefer mopeds to combis, where there are harassment problems.
P. Why is the city so poorly lit?
R. The reaction to this lack has been hyperlumination in many cases, as in the Alameda. The appropriate thing is to generate comfort, promote circulation and avoid dark corners. But we're still a little in diapers
P. What lessons can Mexico draw from Los Angeles?
R. Los Angeles is the global capital of the car. But in recent years, he has turned his gaze towards the center, abandoned for more than 40 years. There has been an important process of investment, redensification and gentrification. There are positive and negative experiences, but the centers of the metropolis, such as Mexico City, have been abandoned, there has been a giant depopulation, and the historic homes are warehouses for informal businesses.
P. What do you think of a similar project that Slim led years ago?
R. It was a good intervention that was not sufficiently sheltered. A pedestrian passage was created, but insufficient. The entire historic center should be pedestrian according to the general consensus of the future of urbanism. But in the last six years, the Government did very little. The city was abandoned.