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Competition: Tenancingo Square media-scape, Mexico

An open international architecture competition has been launched to transform the human trafficking hotspot of Tenancingo Square into a space for progressive social engagement and learning (Deadline: 15 May)

The contest invites designers and architects to draw up architectural proposals that harness modern media presentation and urban renewal to raise awareness of issues surrounding global sex trafficking, which plagues the southern Mexico settlement of Tenancingo.

The planned intervention will feature a stage, public educational space and an area for hosting markets and an annual carnival. Concepts may integrate additional functions and be of any scale, but must promote urban transformation and support the growth of new perceptions among local residents.

Mexico

Mexico

Tenancingo Square

According to the brief: ‘Within Tenancingo, designers should consider the provocative potentials of media, both digital and physical, to influence a long-term recalibration of consciousness.

‘The proposed conversion should aim to both educate and empower, reforming entrenched behaviour – how might a modified square reshape communal mind-set and motivation, reconstituting the image of a town where exploitation has become normalised?’

Tenancingo, around 10km north of the colonial era-planned city of Puebla, is widely thought to be at the centre of Mexico’s sex trafficking industry where criminal families trick young women into becoming prostitutes.

According to the United Nations there are approximately 2.5 million people worldwide trapped in the human trafficking network at any time. Tenancingo is estimated to host 1,000 traffickers within its modest population of 10,000 people.

Mexico

Mexico

Contest site

The competition site occupies Tenancingo’s highest and most central point, neighbouring the historic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel church and a local government office. In February every year the square hosts an annual carnival which briefly exposes an extensive and sophisticated network of traffickers.

The square also accommodates a large number of temporary programmes and events, serving as both a public plaza and marketplace for the town.

The contest, organised by Arch Out Loud, invites international teams to directly address the global epidemic of human trafficking by proposing an transformative intervention for the prominent public space.

The brief calls on participants to devise an innovative, meaningful and appropriate interactive media-scape which challenges ingrained behaviour within the community.

Submissions must include a single ARCH D-sized landscape presentation board featuring plans, sections, elevations, rendered perspectives, diagrams and images of any physical models.

The overall winner – set to be announced on 5 June – will receive a $5,000 USD, and there will also be three runners-up prizes worth $1,000 each.

How to apply

Deadline

The registration deadline is 14 May and submissions must be completed by 11:59pm (EDT) on 15 May

Fee

Advance registration from 20 February to 18 March: $55
Early registration from 19 March to 17 April: $75
Regular registration from 18 April to 14 May: $95

Contact details

Email: info@archoutloud.com

View the competition website for more information

Gillett Square case study: Q&A with Hawkins\Brown

The London practice discusses lessons learned transforming a disused urban space into a new public square for Dalston

How did your transformation of Gillett Square set out to transform the surrounding area of Dalston for the local community?

The first step was to make the square safe and accessible for everyone in the local community, and to offer activities that attracted more people to use the square. The programme of activities was chosen, funded and organised through social action directing/ engaging the local community (and the architects did not transform Gillett Square, the change was affected by local people).

Dalston, London

Dalston, London

Source: Image by Cristobal Palma

Gillett Square by Hawkins\Brown

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

The actual architectural forms and materials are quite minimal; it was more about clearing the space of unwanted cars, and reducing antisocial behaviour. The developer was a partnership between the local authority (Hackney), a charity (Hackney Cooperative Development and adjoining commercial developers (MacDonald Egan) so the method of harnessing these local energies is critical to the project’s success.

Dalston, London

Dalston, London

Source: Image by Keith Collie

Gillett Square by Hawkins\Brown

What advice would you have to contest participants on designing a transformative mediascape for Tenancingo?

The participants need to think about designing a process (rather than a product) to uncover, identify and then implement the changes to behaviour that are needed. Their first concerns need to be to establish a safe, accessible place. They need to use their creativity, innovative social/ cultural and political thinking (and modesty) to imagine what changes are possible (or realistic) and how they can get started and then be supported. Any production needs to create social capital and encourage political debate. Any architecture needs to prove that change is possible and is sustainable.

Dalston, London

Dalston, London

Source: Image by Matt Chisnall

Gillett Square by Hawkins\Brown

Woolwich Squares case study: Q&A with Donncha O’Shea

The partner at Gustafson Porter + Bowman discusses lessons learned transforming a series of squares in the centre of Woolwich, south-east London

Donncha O’Shea

Donncha O’Shea

Donncha O’Shea

How did your transformation of Woolwich Squares set out to transform the surrounding area for the local community?

Our competition-winning design seeks to create spaces that are particular to Woolwich and embody an essential quality of the immediate context, whether natural or historic. Woolwich has a very diverse community, and the squares needed to be a shared space for all to use in transit, or to pause and reflect. While the language of the project is modern, the design is sensitive to the historic fabric of Woolwich, especially its Grade II-listed buildings which are re-established as key architectural features in the public realm. The scheme addresses the shortage of green space in the town centre by creating a ‘garden’. The design generates a sense of calm and relaxation while providing a functional space that can be transformed for other uses.

London

London

Source: Image by Chris Mansfield

Woolwich Squares by Gustafson Porter + Bowman

Which architectural, material and other methods did you harness?

The town centre was quite fragmented, with General Gordon Square separated from Greens End, Beresford Square and the rest of the town centre. We worked with Space Syntax to analyse existing pedestrian flow through the site. Using the movement studies, the design identified and accommodated clear routes to improve connections and provide an axis of movement that also supports the wider town-centre regeneration. The result is a unified pedestrian space which also greatly improves accessibility by providing a landscape that is free of clutter, without compromising public safety. Terracing is used to improve the usability of the steeply sloping site, with level routes provided across the primary axis of each square to ensure accessibility for all users. A language of materials and details was developed that incorporated best practice universal design for seating, ramps, lighting and planting. Natural stone was chosen for its robustness and appearance, and ease to maintain. The water scrim was important in activating the space with sound and movement so the space never felt empty.

London

London

Source: Image by Chris Mansfield

Woolwich Squares by Gustafson Porter + Bowman

What advice would you give to contest participants on designing a transformative media-scape for Tenancingo?

Thoroughly interrogate the brief, and don’t design a square that could exist anywhere else – it must embody total site specificity. The concept should also consider universal design features which address issues of access and security in the public realm. A successful public square is one that is in constant use, and supports those using it. At Woolwich, for example, we were asked to safeguard against antisocial behaviour at night. General Gordon Square has been designed to feel observed from all its major edges and entrances. By forming a bowl-like form at its centre and using lighting in trees and the water scrim, the design ensures that its centre is not a ‘black hole’ at night and will naturally police itself. This encourages use by all members of the community.

London

London

Woolwich Squares by Gustafson Porter + Bowman