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Interview with Mexican architect Alberto Kalach

The interest in environmental issues, as we enter the 21st century, is a need that is addressed and defended by the majority. In ARKIHAUS we are evangelizers of the environmental issue and we assume our responsibility as architects and builders to contribute to the quality of life in the city and to raise awareness about environmental issues. It is for this reason that we bring you the interview of the Mexican architect Alberto Kalach in relation to his project “Lacustrine City, a question of urban quality of life”, where he reflects on the objective of architecture and the important role of conscience and participation of majorities to produce changes that increase our quality of life in cities.

A little history

The conquest of Tenochtitlán, more than 500 years ago, not only meant the disappearance of the Aztec empire, but also the beginning of a project that lasted until the beginning of the 20th century and whose objective was the desiccation of the great lakes Texcoco, Xochimilco, Chalco , Xaltocan and Zumpango, which gave rise to the basin of the valley of Mexico and made up the sophisticated hydraulic system of Tenochtitlán. Policies, since then, have been aimed at creating infrastructure that guarantees desiccation; and now, a group of architects among which is the prestigious Alberto Kalach, fight to reinvent the Lacustrine City.

A team project

It is not an easy task. This innovative multidisciplinary team committed to the environment and the quality of life, formed by architects, philosophers, urban planners, engineers, biologists … and even some politician, must fight against the short-term policies of complacent governments, support the actions of interests created and face the neglect of a society that does not demand quality in the environment; although he is poisoning them.

The Valley of Mexico, considered one of the largest urban agglomerations on the planet with a total population of more than 21 million inhabitants – 8.5 million are concentrated in Mexico City – records absolutely unhealthy levels of air and water pollution; but politicians do not see the need to act on a problem that seems not to matter to its inhabitants.

The architect Alberto Kalach also insists on this theory. Citizens do not deepen their environment and water, both in terms of guaranteeing their supply and their quality for consumption, begins to be a problem of present and future for all; but especially in large urban agglomerations. In Mexico City, where floods alternate with water scarcity, it is already an environmental and public health issue.

The question is simple. What is needed for the Lacustrine City project? The answer is even simpler: that society demands it. For your well-being and that of the environment.

The relationship of the inhabitants of the big cities with their surroundings – their well-being, their roots in the neighborhoods where they live, their sustainability or the ability of the environment to positively or negatively influence their health – is a topic that interests sociologists, doctors and communities, in which they are becoming increasingly involved, urban planners, politicians, international organizations, architects … and, also, aware citizens.

Alberto Kalach, who has been fighting for the “Lacustrine City” project for Mexico City for twenty years, gives a recent visit to Spain, to Barcelona, invited by the We Are Water Foundation in collaboration with Casa América Cataluña, with the aim of making a dissemination work on what might well be the “work of recovery of the future”, both for its magnitude and for its social impact.

Slowly, thoughtfully and measuring his words very well, Alberto Kalach explains to us, in this interview that we offer, a project of the future that is inspired by the idea of engineers Nabor Carrillo and Gerardo Cruickshank to treat wastewater to save the lake from Texcoco in 1965.