DF 1:500, Mexico City, 2012 © Buró-Buró DF 1:500, Mexico City, 2012 © Buró-Buró

“And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water, and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Mexico (City), we were astounded.” - Bernal Díaz del Castillo.

Already in the sixteenth century, Mexico City was a vast complex territory of water management dilemma, natural equilibrium, social segregation, and strategic transportation systems. Its tremendous transformation during the hispanic colonial period changed the history, from a map of a networked-based urban system of rivers, canals, and lakes, into one of a central-squared based layout implemented in most colonized settings in Latin America.

This dramatic shift was followed by continuous overlayering of new ideas of the Mexico yet to come: industrial and revolutionary era, Beaux Arts, Modernism(s), renewal strategies, massive formal and informal housing sprawl, new plans, new better ways(?), and new survival strategies.

Today, its bigness and endlessness is more astounding since it has created a notion of a living creature difficult to grasp, to embrace, and thus to imagine.

In an effort to start a new urban master plan for Mexico City, the large and complex representation of the territory itself became the plan. The plan of putting together the pieces, layers, scales, and histories in a space large enough to understand its symbolism and small enough to be experienced it by foot, collectively in the heart of the city, el Zócalo.

DF 1:500 was a mapping tool for the recognition, planning, and urban design in a monumental scale of Mexico City.

Laura Janka

Laura Janka is an architect and urban designer (Architecture-UNAM and Urban Design- Harvard). She has focused her professional and personal interests on the dialog with and within cities, designing tools for new interventions in public space, civic engagement, and creative planning processes, leading strategic political projects inside and outside the government. She is part of Borderless-studio, a Chicago-based collaborative urban design studio, and of l-o-c-a-l, a Sao-Paulo+Mexico participatory platform. Since 2018, she is a researcher for the National Creative System in Mexico. laurajanka.com@laurajanka