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Hope of the city

Updated Tuesday, 10th May 2011

Professor and architect Jorge Legorreta remembers the disasterous events in Mexico City such as the earthquake in 1985 that changed his career path from architecture to environment

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Jorge Legorreta
I am a professor at the Metropolitan Autonomous University and I have been teaching for 30 years. 

Many people in Mexico City have suffered sadness, distress and pain as a result of the floods, and especially due to the earthquake, the earthquake that left many people dead in Mexico City in 1985.  I was then finishing my studies in architecture, and I think that it was then that I started to understand that the environment relates to our knowledge of the nature that surrounds us.  So for more than 30 years, I have been studying the city around its environment, as a result of these calamities that I experienced in a very personal way when people lost their possessions, and it was then that I started to understand what we architects and urban planners had been doing in contemporary cities as nature is still causing disasters, and in that context I started studying the environment. 

I will be mainly working on a personal wish on a utopia, which has been described in books and which I would love to realise; the restitution of the rivers.  The 45 rivers in the low parts of Mexico City have been turned into drains, and my big desire is that before I disappear from this world, some of these rivers will be turned back into clean water rivers which can be used as another way of getting around the city, as they are the veins and the hope of the city.  This is my future work, and in addition to that we need to build new technology in Mexico City for the storage of rainwater.  This is something that in this city we will urgently need in the next 20 or 30 years, and I started working on this a few years ago. 

I am not very optimistic about the future of my city.  I think we’re going to meet problems.  In fact I am very pessimistic, as by 2020 Mexico City is not going to have 22 million inhabitants, but 28 million.  We will have many problems, but I think we will manage to overcome the great paradigms that bring these catastrophes.  I think we’ll manage to face them from other angles, from other types of people as I really believe in the youth of today.  I think that the young people who are entering the world of communication with their careers can have a different vision to ours, that is what we try to instil in them.  I have much more faith in this new generation of university students than in my generation.  I am very hopeful as I've seen young people using much more sophisticated technology, who have a better understanding of the world, and who are more sensitive about the damage done to nature by civilisation.  This is why I have faith in the city.






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