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The urbicide of Mexico-Tenochtitlán

Mexico City, Mexico
Historical perimeter that comprises the area of the Spanish Main Cathedral built after the Conquest in 1521 and the Main Temple rediscovered (in purple)
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Historical perimeter that comprises the area of the Spanish Main Cathedral built after the Conquest in 1521 and the Main Temple rediscovered (in purple)

“Mexico City appears to form itself, from its origin and destiny, to the miracle of Quetzalcoatl that served men. Each stage in history is forged, kneaded with the vestiges of the previous stage and the sacrifice of the generation that raises it.” - Salvador Novo

Mexico’s city downtown area has a unique history and configuration. Each phase of its construction has been done with the vestiges of the previous phase in an exceptional geographical context.

This area has been growing endlessly since the Spanish conquered the Mexica Empire and dismantled the first phase of construction built in 1325. From that date on, Mexico’s city has been constructing over layers of history becoming one of the biggest cities in the world.

Today, in Mexico’s city downtown we can find traces of the destruction of the buildings of the Mexica Empire, next to constructions of the Spanish Colonial Era and new attempts of urban renewal within the historical perimeter. Because of the exponential urban growth and high demand of construction, conservation policies and urban redevelopment proposals deal with new challenges and discussions within the architectural, archeological, political and historical disciplines.

Since the vestiges of the Mexica civilization where discovered years after its destruction, its late rediscovery process created a new discourse and marked a new era of Mexican Archeology. The late rediscovery of the edifications of the Mexica Empire created tensions that complicated the management of the site and arose several questions: How can we manage a site so lately discovered in such a dynamic historical center? What is the current discourse around this event? How did the architectural and archeological communities respond? What does the rediscovery means in terms of symbolism? How did the urbicide and rediscovery of vestiges of an old civilization impact the city today?

The aim is to expose how the authorities respond to this event, the role of architects in decision making regarding the built environment in a dynamic area and to highlight the current practices/processes around the rediscoveries today.