The Conjunto Urbano Nonoalco Tlatelolco is the largest apartment complex in México, located in the Cuautemoc borough of Mexico City. It was built in the 1960s by architect Mario Pani. Originally, the complex had 102 apartment buildings, with its own schools, hospitals, stores and more, to make it a city within a city. Unfortunately quality of life in the area diminished after two historic events: the Tlatelolco massacre on 2 October 1968, which occurred on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, and the 1985 Mexico City earthquake. Both events not only relevant for Tlatelolco, but for the entire country. Today the two major issues for the complex are crime and the structural risk and maintenance of the area.
50th anniversary of the complex in 2014 is a good chance to think about what could be better ways to remember these tragic events, or simply how to transform perception of the site due to new interventions in a place historically marked by death and constant reborns.
1968 MASSACRE MEMORIAL
The Plaza de las Tres Culturas ("Square of the Three Cultures") is the main square within the Tlatelolco neighbourhood of Mexico City. The name "Three Cultures" is in recognition of the three periods of Mexican history reflected by those buildings pre-Columbian, Spanish colonial, and the independent "mestizo" nation. The square contains the remains of Aztec temples and is flanked by the Catholic church of Santiago de Tlatelolco built between 1604 and 1610 by fray Juan de Torquemada, and a massive housing complex built in 1964.
The Tlatelolco massacre was a killing of an estimated 30 to 300 students and civilians by military and police on October 2, 1968, in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas. The events are considered part of the Mexican Dirty War, when the government used its forces to suppress political opposition. The massacre occurred 10 days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. More than 1300 people were arrested by security police. There has been no consensus on how many were killed that day in the plaza area.
This memorial consists of a large red helium balloon visible from anywhere in the city. A constant reminder of the massacre. For some people, it is a drop of blood floating in the sky. For others, all that fear stuck on site waiting to be liberated by a new and unexpected shot...
1985 EARTHQUAKE MEMORIAL
The 1985 Mexico City earthquake was a magnitude 8.1° R that struck the city on the early morning of September 19. The event caused four billion USD in damage as 412 buildings collapsed and another 3,124 were seriously damaged in the city. While the number is in dispute, the most-cited number of deaths is an estimated 10,000 people but experts agreed that it could be up to 40,000.
In Tlatelolco, the largest apartment complex of its kind in Mexico City with 102 buildings, during the 90 seconds the ground shook on that day, two of the three modules of the Nuevo Leon building fell with about 300 dead and twelve buildings in the complex were so severely damaged that they were demolished in the next six months.
With all this in mind, this memorial is proposed in the lot empty by the Nuevo Leon collapse. A memorial that is half to remember the disaster, half to celebrate life. A half sumerged ferris wheel-like that symbolizes day and night, light and dark, under and over, suffer and joy, life and death, earth and sky, lightness and heaviness… circles.