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Yujun Liu

MA work

Alternative Memories of Pre-existence

Years of over-exploitation of aquifer and delayed recharge, Mexico City has been sinking as a result of land subsidence; Inequality of water distribution seasonally and territorially causes conflicts on rights to water that becomes a financial threat and political bargaining chip; Insufficient maintenance in buried piped networks lead to unsatisfactory sanitary levels, while some parts of the City have no access to domestic water supply; Short of capacity in sewage systems causes yearly flooding in Mexico City; Lack of treatment plants leaves wastewater to be discharged directly to farming lands and neighbour states... 

Water cycle was meant to be a loop and make itself a type of renewable resource however, in Mexico City, we see a big hole in the loop where water will not be retained, and Mexico City is always thirsty; all these conflicts and crisis were generated from the drainage of Lake Texcoco. 

On a planetary level of scale, cities like Mexico City tend to grow further and land resource within the densely built urban area becomes more and more valuable. Land area that is originally home for natural habitats and ecologies are being turned into manmade artefacts where the balance of nature such as the carbon cycle is also being broken down. We take over the land, we build structures on it and it's a non-revertible move to the environment. In the conflicts between us and nature, is there a way that we can be together, or at least to try to maintain a certain level of balance to keep the environmental cycles running alongside humanity? 

And when we zoom into the urban scale, man-made boundaries for accessing resources creates classification, then conflicts between classes as a result in demand and supply. For instance, water consumption minimum in Mexico City is divided by social classes occurs as: in some illegal establishments; it is around 28 l/p/day (liters per person per day), the consumption estimation average in the sectors of medium income is between 275 to 410 l/p/day and in the sectors of maximum income is between 800 and 1000 l/p/day. How can infrastructure work better to ease the gaps between different social classes and bind the community together?

Based on the series of collective memories found around the water issues in Mexico City, the project will run as an alternative way to treat water infrastructure that has always been shielded and isolated from the urban set-out and community. The site of Avenida Alvaro Obregon 286 in the earthquake with the loss of 49 lives was expropriated by the government of CDMX and planned to be a memorial park. Deviating from the traditional way where a memorial that is in a form of still life, I am proposing an active "memorial" where running water is used as the medium in the remembrance of the loss of lives as well as the loss in balance between human and nature. It's been a long battle for space for humanity and space for nature. More 'world's largest infrastructures' are seen to be built in Mexico, turning lands that's for natural habitation into only-for-human use. The proposal is an alternative plan for the formal programme - a wastewater treatment plant and groundwater injection station to be place in the city centre, which may also create space for informal gathering and eliminates the boundary between infrastructure (a place), natural ecologies (a place-used-to-be) and public realm (a place-to-be). 

It's an architectural solution from the constraints where land resource is limited for development in such a populated urban sprawl and where a certain level of natural ecologies should be retained and prevented from this endless sprawl. It is also a project which alternates the purpose of energy consumption. It transforms the traditional way which is consume-only into a give-take situation to the environment. By developing this typology, Mexico City will be able to gain itself carbon credits as part of the funds are secured on environmentally beneficial projects, and not only focusing on economic development and financial assets.


  • MA Degree


    School of Architecture


    MA Architecture, 2018

  • Degrees

  • BSc(Hons) Architecture, University of Bath, 2015 (RIBA Part I)
  • Exhibitions

  • Night Time Is The Right Time, The Building Centre, London, 2017; Design for Safety at Sea, Lloyds Register Foundation, London & RNLI College, Poole, 2017; ARCH-CAMPUS Student Architecture Design Exhibition, China Design Centre, London & UED Magazine Press, Beijing, 2015
  • Awards

  • 1st place Winners, VIII ed. DMKM278, 2018; Finalist, "Night Time Is The Right Time" Competition, 2017; 1st place Winners, Bloomberg Bursary, 2017