Agora MML : Reimaging La Merced Market as a New Landscape of Agricultural and Cultural Endeavors

Teaching Associate: Adriana Chávez

Emergent conditions demand new paradigms in all fields. In today´s new world, old categories will not suffice: local vs. global, modern vs. tradition, science vs. art vs. engineering, city vs. Landscape… all become too narrow divisions that need to be radically reinvented.

Already, a 120,000,000 inhabitants metropolitan area is stemming in the Pearl River Delta. This conglomerate incorporates three cities with separate legislations (Guangzhou, Foshan, & Zhaoqing).

Should this new conglomerates still be called “cities” or we need to come up with a more appropriate terminology for this constructed landscapes rests yet to be defined. In this urbanized reality, if recent birth rates in Africa do not subside, there will be almost 9 billion human beings to be fed by the year 2050. Under today´s agriculture technologies, which has evolved little in the last 150,000 years, there is no chance to meet this challenge:
Only 0.3% of all the sweet-water of our planet is available for human access.

The amount of land available to produce food is also a limited and scarce resource that already reaches alarming levels of abuse. At this pace there will not be enough land or water to sustain our traditional practices to procure aliment.

The demand for high yield production within limited constrains of territory make vertical farms a feasible endeavor in the near future, both technically and financially. Avoiding the need for territorial expansion and redirecting to vertical structures that breed life, while making most of scarce resources such as water and energy, will radically transform the landscape that we know both in cities and the countryside.

This opens the possibility to reconsider the space of agriculture. It may become one no longer limited to production of food but a rather more complex construct, a site where production of aliment and culture within cities come together. This “new countryside” holds the potential to transform how we produce, relate and consume food and ideas, to enhance our conscience of water, land, soil and energy waste, management and contamination.

A new realm for landscape design, one where architecture, engineering, science, art, etc. become almost indiscernible opens up. It withholds the possibility to enhance public health, both physical and mental and avoid unnecessary waste to sustain an economic system. Briefly, to our cities more balanced and resilient. Should this new landscape introduce a new dimension of public space, and if it can become more than just about the production and exchange of goods is both the focus and the design challenge of the studio.

Studio´s aim:
Markets in MC withhold a potential new landscape… An organizational structure with independence from private real estate interest capable of becoming a “designed” field: a new system of landscape and public space throughout the city. Such is the challenge of the studio: to explore the possibilities of this new productive landscape system to become designed, social and public: one capable of producing a site for economic & cultural creation, exchange and consumption. The studio will explore a radicalization of the renovation on La Merced exploring a future where it becomes not only a market but also a laboratory for what markets in Mexico City, and other cities, may become.