Pockets, Carpets, and Spine

Project Description

Nomination, H.I. Feldman Prize

The objective of this project is to turn Real de Palmas, a low-income workers housing settlement of 60,000 inhabitants near Monterrey, from an agglomeration of houses into a self-sufficient city. Different scales of interventions respond to problems ranging from underused backyards, lack of public amenities and civic programs, nonexistent employment opportunities and need for more housing. The urban strategy takes advantage of the existing structure while allowing for organic growth.

Rezoning the central Spine of Real de Palmas lends program and function to the road system. Enlarging sidewalks and introducing bike lanes prioritizes pedestrians on the currently underused road. Building extensions to houses and introducing commercial activity along the Spine yield new work space for the inhabitants.

The Carpets work on the scale of the neighborhoods and connect existing green areas to offer a place for community activities. Comprised of unified paving material, urban furniture or planting, and covered recreational areas, the Carpets are designed to provide a sense of identity for each neighborhood.

The Backyards recall the ‘Vecindad’ housing type and convert underused backyards into shared spaces. This intervention is a more efficient use of space and creates new relations between the neighbors. In some house types, sideways extensions take advantage of the five-foot gap between the buildings and provide an additional bedroom.

Pockets, anchored around existing civic buildings, break the relentless grid of houses and introduce recreational, cultural, and civic programs. The Educational Pocket provides desired programs in the development – a trade school and a library connected through shaded outdoor spaces. The Market Pocket is inspired by two common, existing market types in Mexico: formal and permanent structures of mercados and informal, temporary tanguis.