SCI-Arc Vertical Studio Visits Mexico City to Explore Social Housing

Thirteen undergraduate and graduate SCI-Arc students from a vertical studio directed by SCI-Arc Vice-Director and Chief Academic Officer, John Enright, closed the month of January with a trip to Mexico City. The Los Angeles contingent met 13 students from Ibero-American University, and SCI-Arc Mexico Coordinator Francisco Pardo at the SCI-Arc space in the centrally-located Juarez neighborhood of Mexico’s capital city. The rapidly changing neighborhood now hosts a growing number of artists, galleries, and restaurants, and the students have been challenged to find a social housing solution within guidelines set by INFONAVIT, the National Workers Housing Fund Institute of Mexico.

INFONAVIT provides housing subsidies across Mexico, and has overseen millions of housing projects in various regions. Enright’s vertical studio explores ways to bring INFONAVIT’s housing solutions into the city by designing his or her own city block, leveraging existing INFONAVIT housing units; equating to 26 newly designed city blocks. To maintain the urban fabric, the “Levitating Urban House” projects must add to existing buildings, both above and between. And while this phase of project work is conducted independently, the immediate proximity of each project will introduce unique group dynamics among students. Enright, Pardo, and Juan Rincon, SCI-Arc Colombia coordinator, juried discovery sessions with students. 

“The studio trip to Mexico City enabled the students to better understand the particular cultural and socioeconomic issues involved in Social Housing in Mexico City,” Enright says. “Their meetings with other Mexican architects and students lead to a helpful dialogue regarding the issues our studio is pursuing.”

In addition to coursework, the visit emphasized experience. “Whenever we travel abroad, we want to expose students to different cultures.” Enright adds. “Given the political climate right now, we saw ourselves as representatives trying to build bridges instead of walls.”

At the end of the spring 2017 semester, Ibero-American University’s vertical students will come to Los Angeles for a-week-and-a-half for a joint final review.