MODERNIZATION OF THE VERNACULAR IN MERIDA
Housing in Merida Yucatan: The Urban and The Territorial
Partner | Zhe Peng
Urban and Planing Studio | Spring 2016
Advisor | Diane Davis, Jose Castillo
Nominated for GSD Platform 9
“We just want to live in a house with a garden, watching kids playing in the courtyard. That’s also why I would rather live in the peripheral area than the second floor in the historic center...” -- By a young mother in Merida
From the interactions with local residents of Merida, outdoor gardens are extremely essential for their daily life. Therefore, it would be very hard to ask these residents to move to upper floors. Along with the importance of horizontality in Mayan culture, mid-rises or high-rises are not so popular for local residents. Majority of the elderly citizens would prefer to stay in the historic center. The intention of reunion of family would become a potential for attracting people back to the historic center.
Through studies of the recourses and living conditions of the historic center, a series of irregular blocks were selected for the new housing development. Taking advantage of the large underutilized land in these blocks, public programs such as communal amenities, recreation center, health care, educational institutions, and commercial center would be placed here to revitalize the neighborhood. An incremental slow densification is expected for the enhancement of basic public services provided in these bocks, which will improve the living quality of the area. Flexible modularized additional housing units are developed with respect to the importance of outdoor gardens for the local residents, to expand their houses from one room to three or more rooms.
New relationships between the local residents, new residents, the developers, Infonavit and city Merida are established through expansion and potential rental credit product, along with craftsmanship package provided by Infonavit. Instead of having one developer building hundreds of new homes in the peripheral area, the city might only require small scale redevelopments in the historic center. With the intention of bringing people and families back to the historic center, the gentle urban strategies of the project not only respect the overall urban consistency of Merida, but also bring in a nuance of the flatness to the city.