SCI-Arc Mexico Explores Urban and Rural Housing Solutions

To expand academic reach beyond Los Angeles, SCI-Arc hosts global initiatives that engage new and emerging members of the architecture and design community.  In January of 2016, SCI-Arc launched its SCI-Arc Mexico initiative in Mexico City, a global city that boasts the second largest population in the world.

“As part of the global outreach effort on which SCI-Arc has embarked, we are thrilled to have a home in such a dynamic city,” says SCI-Arc Director and CEO Hernan Diaz Alonso. “The extent to which Latino culture influences SCI-Arc, and the Los Angeles community at large, makes a presence in Mexico City a natural next step.”

Outreach efforts have included workshops and studios, gallery expositions, and lectures from notable SCI-Arc alumni and faculty including Thom Mayne, Hernan Diaz Alonso, Marcello Spinas, and Alexis Rouchas. Most recently, 15 students from the United States, and 15 students from Mexico met in the Mexico City location to workshop suburban housing solutions. Sponsored by IFONAVIT, the National Workers Housing Fund Institute of Mexico that outlines a savings structure for private and public housing, SCI-Arc students developed ideas to solve issues of housing density and formal expansion of adaptive reuse.

“[The Mexican government] wanted to work with SCI-Arc on this because the school has been at the forefront of changes in social housing for the last 40 years,” says SCI-Arc Mexico Coordinator Francisco Pardo. Within this context, students addressed two challenges. The first looked at adding more room to overcrowded, single family homes, and the second explored improvements to social housing complexes originally constructed in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The group of SCI-Arc instructors and 30 students concluded the workshop with several weeks of critique and discussions at SCI-Arc’s Los Angeles campus among peers, faculty, and critics, including IFONAVIT Director Carlos Zedillo. 

SCI-Arc Faculty Solves Housing Challenges

Through the SCI-Arc Mexico outreach initiative, Zedillo invited practicing SCI-Arc faculty to submit solutions to a challenge extending outside the limits of Mexico City: Rural housing. Selected from more than 90 submitting firms, 10 SCI-Arc instructors will design affordable, sustainable dwellings for a range of climates and environments across Mexico, from deserts to mountains to seacoasts.

The participating faculty members include:

“Getting our faculty to work on real projects with a major social agenda puts SCI-Arc at the forefront of producing architecture and reshaping realities,” Diaz Alonso says. “This is a unique opportunity and we are excited by the challenge, as well as living up to the expectations.”