A New Green Archipelago

In 1977, Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas defined ‘the city in the city. Berlin: A green archipelago’.  Led by Ungers, the Cornell University team determined that “any future plan for Berlin should be based in reduction”, as the method to intensify the experience of the city which would operate now as an architectural assemblage. The research and project demystified the generalized idea that the several areas of the city can only be regenerated by building more.

In 2013, The Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico invited us to propose a pilot program to rethink architectural education in the last year of the architectural degree. Following a semester of research on large scale projects in Mexico during its modernity period, we focused on what we then predicted could be the most important vacant site for the city, the 750 ha. ‘void’ of the current international airport, to be relocated in 2018.

We proposed for this site -and as a metropolitan strategy- the opposed condition that Ungers and Koolhaas determined in 1977, an inverse theory. Mexico City, instead of being formed as an archipelago of architectures in between nature, contains an archipelago of nature within the immense ‘lagoon’ of urbanization. We therefore proposed ‘a new green archipelago’, a project to protect and augment the green system of ‘islands’ to establish a more coherent relationship between nature and the ‘metropolis of concrete’.