Refurbishment of an old neighborhood through public space intervention, Oaxaca Mexico.

                                                              

Refurbishment of an old neighborhood through public space intervention, Oaxaca Mexico.

Fundación Hogares
Solution proposed by: 
Fundacion Hogares with the sponsorship of INFONAVIT (The National Housing Fund Institute for Workers), Municipal Government of Oaxaca
In a Nutshell: 
The renewal project for Neighborhood Unidad 1o de Mayo in the city of Oaxaca, Oaxaca Mexico which includes the rehabilitation of public spaces helped revitalized a housing complex that is more than 40 years old and made it accessible to the older people.
Where and When: 
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico in 2015. Time of execution 5.5 months
Challenges: 
Oaxaca is a city with a history of social and political unrest, which makes interventions more challenging than other cities. Particularly this complex, which is in a very centric area of the city of Oaxaca, was found in very impaired conditions. The use of platforms throughout the area and the inclusion of canals helped prevent floods in the houses and alleys however these elements limited the accessibility between plazas, specially for the older people or the disabled. The main challenge was to connect these areas and to reform the existing social center and bring it back to activity.
Innovation: 
Innovation in this project includes the solution proposed to mitigate floods, which is a yearly issue in rain season. These solutions included floor replacement by permeable paving stone, rain gardens that absorb water and gabions to slow the speed of water for drainage absorption. The complex topography was alleviated ramps constructed with the use of residual materials to form gabion baskets which helped to structure and contain. Another innovation component was the process used for community engagement by Fundacion Hogares which includes workshops, visits and overall activities that give confidence to the neighbors and builds trust in the assigned team. Fundacion Hogares has also developed an Index of neighborhood social cohesion that seeks to measure four components interpersonal trust, sense of belonging, social identity, and participatory behavior before and after the project has been done. With the Index the interventions are evaluated and monitored through time to see the level of success of the proposed design and the community’s acceptance.
Concept: 
The project was designed by TOA, an environmental operation workshop hired by Fundacion Hogares whom worked the rehabilitation program for public space within the housing unit and which was developed in nine stages. The premise of the project was to make use of local and residual materials and to bring back to life the public areas which had been abandoned by the community due to the lack of sitting areas and accessibility.
Description: 
The project focused in the accessibility of pathways through ramps for the disabled, the inclusion of urban furniture, children games, bridges to connect spaces which previously were separated by the water canals and the refurbishing of all areas. The use of local materials, which require low maintenance, was essential to the project. Gabion baskets were used to limit spaces, plant-holders, and as retaining walls for the ramps. The social center was refurbished with subtle changes, maintaining the original structure and allowing a more dynamic space for active participation of the community. With the objective of promoting reading, a lecture room was included in the social center with new furniture and bibliography. Vegetation was also an important component of this project focusing in the use of local plants. The community contributed in one of the nine phases of the project, which was Mural Painting. This project was possible due to the successful coordination between the three orders of government (federal, state and municipal), INFONAVIT ‘s Mortgage branch (The National Housing Fund Institute for Workers), the community and Fundacion Hogares
Impacts: 
8,595 people were benefited with this project. The intervention included the following: 13,100 m2 of renewed surface; 1902m2 of paint, 4082 m2 of pavements, 386 m2 of vegetation, 89 new lights, 25 pieces of new urban furniture, 357 gabion baskets. The most important impact was the social cohesion achieved, the sense of community generated after the completion of the project and the appropriation and use of the public area. During the whole process the community was uncertain and impatient to see the final result. Once the project finished, the residents were very pleased with the results and used the spaces as they saw their needs had been fulfilled. In a final survey to evaluate the results of the project the key findings indicate that the perception of security was increased in 5%, the use of the public areas increased 8% and 58% of the population agreed that the project improved significantly the public areas. On the other hand around 34% of the respondents of the survey agreed that the physical intervention improved the sense of security in public places.

Photo Gallery