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Public Space Authority

Over the past ten years, Mexico City has acknowledged the importance of investing in public spaces, in urban areas that prioritize aesthetics and culture to provide rich and valuable community experiences to citizens. This initiative emerged alongside a newfound understanding of the citizen’s relationship to the built environment, and fostered a belief that public spaces must have high standards of design in order to promote civic culture and thereby dignify the pedestrian.

In 2008, Mexico City’s authorities looked into establishing an autonomous branch of government that could oversee the recovery of public spaces. With the rise of urban mobility initiatives such as Metrobús and Ecobici, it was believed that the rehabilitation and development of several key places around the city would bring about a more vibrant street life. Since then the Public Space Authority has been orchestrating projects aimed at citizens’ well-being and at improving quality of life by restoring iconic historical sites like the Monument to the Revolution. The reactivation of this last plaza, the refurbishing of its Centennial Fountain and the public’s ability to access the observation platform at the monument’s summit has gathered millions of inhabitants from the surrounding Tabacalera neighborhood as well as other parts of the city.

The Authority’s new strategy is to convert small abandoned urban lots into small public parks, known as pocket parks, in which local level impacts can help increase the access to public spaces for marginalized communities. Urban art projects from local artists are incorporated into the design of these spaces, while new construction designs are selected by open contests, in accordance with the Neighbourhood Program.1 The program and its support of democratic design principles has had positive reception and greatly increased visitor traffic in Mexico’s urban parks.

Another function of the project is the mending of relations between the citizenship and municipal bodies as we can think of public spaces as junction points between city administrations and their people. The appropriation of 20 de Noviembre Street is a great example of such modern governance models; as one of the main streets leading to Mexico City’s Metropolitan Cathedral, the street is now part of a pilot program for experimental urban design plans. Tables and benches are occasionally placed on the 20 de Noviembre Street, broadening the space for pedestrian circulation.2 The Public Space Authority is one of the few public administrations that has focused on the importance of connections as well as the relationships between urban inhabitants and their environment.

Project name Public Space Authority
Period
Contributor Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (SEDUVI), Government of Mexico City
Location Insurgentes Centro 149, piso 3, San Rafael, 06470, CDMX
  1. Autoridad del Espacio Público (AEP), “About”, AEP CDMX http://aep.cdmx.gob.mx/.
  2. Ibid