Restoring an historical lake from the rubble of an unfinished airport in Mexico Metropolis



Weeks after President Andrés Manuel López Obrador took workplace in 2018, the combative leftist chief enraged worldwide traders and Mexico’s enterprise group by canceling the airport, which was already round one-third full. Throughout his marketing campaign, López Obrador had railed towards the venture’s administration for overspending and corruption. Then, in a post-election referendum launched by López Obrador’s get together, the general public had voted to scrap it (although critics claimed the outcomes had been unrepresentative, with only one in 90 Mexican voters casting a vote). 

Left behind was an eerily empty panorama greater than Paris, circled by the sprawl of Better Mexico Metropolis. On this huge footprint, the president decreed, the town would construct one of many world’s largest city parks, a venture he dubbed a “new Tenochtitlan.” To supervise what would turn out to be often known as Lake Texcoco Ecological Park (PELT), he appointed Iñaki Echeverria, a Mexican architect and panorama designer who had spent over twenty years advocating for the location’s restoration. 

Echeverria’s imaginative and prescient for the park is a part of a wave of initiatives which have upended the standard aim of ecosystem restoration: returning ecosystems to the state they had been in earlier than people broken them. As an alternative of searching for to roll again the clock, Echeverria is creating a man-made wetland that goals to remodel the way forward for the whole Valley area, drawing classes from each Tenochtitlan and trendy Mexico Metropolis on how thriving cities can coexist with flourishing ecosystems. 

With a price range of $1 billion, Texcoco Park is repurposing the structural skeletons and concrete gorges left behind by the airport development to create synthetic lakes and habitats supposed to host human guests and an unprecedented mixture of species. And Echeverria’s workforce hopes the park also can assist foster financial growth by creating native plant nurseries and reviving cultural practices going through extinction, together with the harvest of spirulina algae. Whereas the top outcome would look little like Texcoco’s previous, it might revive one thing extra elementary: the Valley of Mexico’s long-dormant historical past of constructing in keeping with pure programs.

But right this moment, miles of Texcoco Park stay ringed by a fringe fence, manned by guards in navy uniforms. Because the venture races towards 2024, when López Obrador’s time period ends (he’s vowed to not search a second one), a lot stays inaccessible to the general public and besieged by controversy. The plans for Lake Texcoco’s rebirth might but vanish.

Lake Texcoco returns

Edged by mountain ranges and two volcanoes, the Valley of Mexico has traditionally shaped an “endorheic basin,” the place water can not move out however as a substitute diffuses into the bottom. This course of concentrates salt on the lowest spot, the place Lake Texcoco sits—the plug within the Valley’s bathtub. By way of historical past, the world’s combined salty and contemporary waters have served as a petri dish for the evolution of surprising organisms, together with a whole ecosystem of now-extinct fish species and the axolotl, an amphibian with the flexibility to regenerate limbs, named for one of many Mexica’s gods.