A very ambitious social housing policy was created in Mexico in the mid seventies to provide an affordable solution to the housing deficit at the time. The solution definitely gave access to find a real home for many Mexicans. But its expression grew with out control up to the point of creation of ‘suburbangettos’ in every city in the country that where lacking of connection to the urban centers, infrastructure of any type, services or even nearby jobs.

These housing complexes, that sometimes exceeded 20,000 units, are being abandoned little by little and some of them already report at least 50% of abandonment. The government has launched several policies that are stopping the sprawl of this type of developments, but is not giving many solutions to the existing problem besides repainting the houses to resell them.

The studio will focus on understanding the conditions of these complexes, to find architectonic solutions to reintegrate these housing developments and transform them into a space that could be reverted from abandonment and could also be the detonator for its surroundings. INFONAVIT (National Institute for Social Housing) will be a major sponsor for the studio and will cover the travel expenses of the students to visit the mentioned areas. Also, the documented process and results will be gather in a formal publication.


The studio will divide in teams of two; each team will analyze a specific complex. The different case studies will be place in diverse zones of the country (Mexico) in order to examine different social, climatic, economic and urban environments.

Study of similar cases

a. Spain: Real State Bubble 2008
b. Ireland: Glenatore Esate in Athlone
c. Detroit: Abandonment and first steps toward urban renewal
d. Berlin: Abandoned infrastructures Post-war
e. Taiwan: Keelung Ghost City

The project must cover:

1. Site analysis:

a. Causes and level of the abandonment
b. Housing polices
c. Site conditions
d. Urban context

2. Urban strategies in order to:

a. Connect with the urban context (centers or other housing complex)
b. Rehabilitation of the housing complex
c. Creation of new infrastructures
d. Demolition and remodeling of new urban core

3. Project

a. Urban context
b. Complex rehabilitation
c. Housing units

We will travel to Mexico City to visit the urban authorities (INFONAVIT, SEDATU), academic experts and other architecture offices involved in the housing developments. Also it would be a planned itinerary in Mexico City to know Mexican architectonic culture. At the end of the week each team will visit the housing complex they are going to work with.


INFONAVIT, Abandoned Housing: An Opportunity for Urban Renewal.

INFONAVIT, Estudio sobre el estado y uso de las viviendas INFONAVIT, Resultados, November 22 2010. (Translation ongoing)

INFONAVIT, Estudio Nacional de Vivienda deshabitada, Fase II: causas de deshabitación, Entregable 4: Informe final y presentación de resultados al INFONAVIT, March de 2012. (Translation ongoing)

CentroEure Estudios Territoriales y Políticas Públicas, Propuesta de Indicadores para el índice de Deterioro Habitacional y Calidad Residencial, Primera etapa, December 2013. (Translation ongoing)

Dra. Louise David, El deterioro habitacional en los conjuntos de interés social de México: Diagnóstico y Visión, November 2013. (Translation ongoing)

Additional sources

Angéli, Marc, and Reiner Hehk, City of God!, Berlin: Ruby Press, 2013.

Detroit Future City, 2012 Detroit Strategic Framework Plan. Detroit: Inland Press, 2013. Accesed November 4, 2014. http://detroitfuturecity.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/DFC_ExecutiveSum

Maycotte Flores, Elvira and Sánchez Flores, Erick, “Ciudades Dispersas, Viviendas Abandonadas: La política de la vivienda y su impacto territorial y social en las ciudades mexicanas”, ACE: Arquitectura, Ciudad y Entorno, Year 5, no. 14 (June 2009): 19-32. Accessed November 4, 2014. http://upcommons.upc.edu/revistes/bitstream/2099/9342/7/ACE_14_SA_11.pdf

Power, A., and K. Mumford. 1999. The Slow Death of Great Cities? Urban Abandonment or Urban Renaissance. New York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Accessed November 4, 2014. http://www.jrf.org.uk/system/files/1859353223.pdf

Bloom, Nicholas Dagen, Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century, (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008).

Lacaton & Vassal, Archicréé, 364 (2014), November 23, 2014. http://www.lacatonvassal.com/data/documents/20141117-12405414PlaquetteLacaton&Vassal00.pdf

Bell, Bryan and Katie Wakeford, Expanding Architecture, Design as Activism, (New York: Metropolis Books), 2008.

Chakrabarti, Vishaan, A Country of Cities Manifiesto for an Urban America, (New York: Metropolis Books), 2013.

Durán Fernández, Ramón, El tsunami urbanizador español y mundial : sobre sus causas y repercusiones devastadoras, y la necesidad de prepararse para el previsible estallido de la burbuja inmobiliaria, (Barcelona: Virus Editorial) 2006.

All Semesters

Spring 2017
Advanced Design Studio: Objects and Qualities
David Erdman
Spring 2016
Advanced Design Studio: Building Water
Wolf Prix, Abigail Coover Hume