From threat to opportunity

Spatial strategies integrating urban and water dynamics towards a sustainable redevelopment model for informal settlements in Mexico City’s periphery

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Abstract

This thesis tells a story of today, of Mexico City, and a plan for a desirable future for the Municipality of Valle de Chalco, an informal settlement affected by the metropolitan mismanagement of water resources. Today uneven developments dominate in Mexico City Metropolitan Area, a result of a Neoliberal urbanization process. The current urban reality is the result of the unbalanced power relations between the city makers that priorities the city core and the city dwellers that are pushed into urban poverty towards peripheral areas. Those areas are not perceived as part of the city and therefore experience water related problems: flooding and lack of basic services such as safe water supply and sanitation. The Neoliberal policies in the urban process had emphasized the class polarization of the citizens. Valle de Chalco Solidaridad at the south-east periphery of the city is a fine example of a marginalized society in struggle. Moreover, the rapid population growth has led human interventions to affect natural processes and contribute to the growing destruction of natural ecosystems. The story of the natural ecosystems coevolves with the story of the development of Mexico City’s settlement. The human story intersects with that of nature. Until today humans had gain at the expense of nature, which moves ineluctably towards ecological disequilibrium. Current risks of flooding and fresh water scarcity that Mexico City Metropolitan Area is facing will increase if the denial for interaction between the city and water continues. A city that once was an island in complete synergism with water needs to learn how to live with it again and create opportunities from the interaction with it. The desirable is a win-win situation in which harmony between humans and their natural environment is re-established.