Since 2000 our organization has been installing and maintaining green roofs and other urban spaces denominated Comprehensive Green Spaces (Espacios Naturados Integrales®), which also takes into account a number of elements beyond mere aesthetic to focus on sustainability through activities such as preservation of flora, public participation, environmentally responsible maintenance, sustainable construction and shared value. Based on this concept, since 2011, we have been in charge of the green roof located at the principal office building of the National Ministry of Housing for Workers (INFONAVIT) in Mexico City, our project client. We developed and implemented the landscape design, the plant maintenance plan and public participation program.
The project is a good example of how landscape design can connect social and environmental objectives. Since 2011, more than 5,000 visitors have participated in a social – environmental awareness program (a high proportion are architecture students) at this site. 95 % of the plants are certified according to current Mexican environmental and organic standards; this vibrant and beautiful place encourages relaxation, aesthetic pleasure and the education of its visitors.
The Institute of the National Fund for Workers’ Housing (INFONAVIT) was founded in 1972 with the purpose of complying with the workers’ housing rights established by article 123 of the Mexican Constitution which addresses issues of urban development, housing and construction. It adheres to the philosophy of “generating value for workers and their families through housing and savings solutions that, throughout their working life, allow them to increase their monetary legacy and quality of life in a sustainable manner for a dignified retirement.” These institutional values from the client, which includes integrity, strength, optimism, nationalism, and learning, dedication to service, innovation and transparency, were taken into account for the design team for the conceptualization of the green roof project, both in design and activities. The INFONAVIT building was built in 1974 and was inaugurated a year later. The project was the work of the architects Teodoro González de León and Abraham Zabludowsky.
Between the months of May 2017 and January 2018, at the INFONAVIT headquarters building in Mexico City, our team redesigned and installed the new version of the green roof covering 2500 square meters, composed of 149 species of Mexican succulents (agavaceae, cacti and others) and herbaceous foliage plants on a 5265 square meter rooftop. To add to the aesthetic value of the rooftop forest and fruit trees in planters and an organic vegetable garden in a greenhouse have been added. The rooftop was divided into eight sections according to the vegetation to be planted for each one and was carried out simultaneously in several sections; in such a way that pattern of design corrections became obvious and relatively simple to carry out.
The site was delineated to note the geometries of the project, such as walkways, gravel areas or orchards. At the same time, a trace was made for the location of each type of vegetation within the corresponding section. In the planted areas, the design is composed by geometric figures. These figures, composed of straight and circular lines, establish a pattern, in which the landscaped spaces and corridors of the roof interact to symbolize the connection between areas providing a constant visual rhythm and design coherence. In this way, the design of the green roof space is achieved not by its extension, but by the visual connection. The different sections are linked by a main walkway that guides visitors through the space and by a design that gives coherence to the whole.
Three guiding criteria were the basis and justification of the conceptualization of this design: the establishment of educational activities as part of the institute’s public participation program to permit achievement of its social responsibility goals; the establishment of a green space for the benefit of the community in this densely urbanized zone; and the selection of a type of vegetal palette that offers diverse cultural and environmental advantages. The selection of plants, shows the richness of Mexican flora, and includes specimens of herbaceous, shrub and arboreal plants of a wide diversity of botanical families from the whole territory. Succulent plants (agaves, cactus, crassulas), representative of the Mexican landscape are highlighted.
At present we are working with INFONAVIT to help them attain certification by SEMARNAT (Mexican environmental Secretariat) as a site that manages and preserve wildlife sustainably. The visitors to the green roof learn about plant conservation, the biodiversity of Mexican plants, as well as urbanization, landscape architecture, sustainable building and other social and environmental topics. Our workshops have highlighted succulent propagation and green roofs.
Project name: Comprehensive Green Roof in Mexico City (INFONAVIT)
Entrant office name: Consultoría Ambiental Viveros de Coyoacán, S.C. (CONViVe)
Role of the entrant in the project: Project manager
Website: http://www.ciceana.org.mx / http://www.tecnosfera.mx
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Tecnósfera S.C., Arq. Psj. Bruno Jarhani Palomino Ramírez and Biol. Cristian René Sánchez Martínez.
Project location (Street, City, Country): Barranca del Muerto 280, Col. Guadalupe Inn, Alvaro Obregón, 01029, Mexico City, Mexico.
Design year: 2015 & 2016
Year Built: 2017 & 2018