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The response to September 19 from an architectural perspective

Wrriten by: Daniela Cruz | November 10, 2017

You can read this article in: Español | English | 中國

Faced with the disasters that hit our country in September this year, the Mexican people demonstrated their love for their fellows and without hesitation set about helping with the rescuing effort and volunteering their support however they could. Without question Mexicans’ passion and determination to overcome the difficult situation is laudable; however we must now seek to foster this desire and motivation in order to achieve the ultimate goal of improving the wellbeing of our fellow citizens.

From the perspective of architecture practice, represented by architects, urban planners and structural engineers, we must play a significant role in initiating and carrying out the reconstruction of Mexico, which we should perhaps describe as the creation of twenty-first century Mexico. Why is this? Because our perspective on the world, which is defined by the concept of livability, is of importance when it comes to upholding the rights of those who inhabit a given space.

What was my own experience of this situation? Witnessed from the bunker of a firm with a wide range of professional knowledge, I saw how, immediately after the earthquake, each without hesitation took up the role they had to, and set about the volunteer work that corresponded to their experience and abilities.

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Architects working with their peers on brigades to evaluate buildings; structural engineers leading these efforts; a team focused solely on the creation of an efficient database in the Central Support Office; machinery from the construction department brought to the disaster zones to help however it could. Each one of these efforts a commitment to respond to the other, following the same impulse that always drives us.

It is an honor to be part of a civic movement that emerged from the tragedy, and I would like to mention an internal operation that arose from a successful social media campaign: the creation of a Central Support Office within the Architecture studio, the recording and follow up of buildings damaged by the quake, and the delivery of building reports to the relevant authorities as well as one of the leading professional associations in the field of real estate development. These actions animated the duty of the profession in the studio.

It is also important to emphasize and reinforce the humble lessons taught by architects of different nationalities—such as RAMA Estudio in Ecuador and ELEMENTAL in Chile—who having suffered similar situations, offered their support in the challenge of how to implement coherent actions following a natural disaster that is unpredictable in its level of destruction. This serves to study and compare their operations in order to make a justified intervention more feasible.

It is important to establish an official manual setting out what to do in the event of an earthquake, and how to deal with its inevitable consequences. It would undoubtedly form part of our civic code. However, there remains a concern about the implementation of an protocol of action for architects and non-architects, and the relevant authorities need to engage in an initiative to define this. For now, we continue with the determination to use our knowledge to support and serve however we can.

Perspective. Critique. Determination. Synergy. Dedication. Motivation. This is the task of the architect and citizen alike when confronted with a state of emergency that impacts on the wellbeing and quality of life of the society you belong to.

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