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Urban Spa and recreational water usage in Chihuahua


Madrid architecture firm PKMN has been recognised with the NEXT LANDMARK MILANO 2015 award, an international competition inviting professionals a non-professionals in the fields of architecture and photography to experiment with new creative processes with the objective of creating new platforms for urban planning.

Each summer the Chihuahua Superior Architecture Institute (ISAD) organises the Desert Workshop. This year they approached PKMN, together with Mexican designer duo Memela, local architects Juan Castillo and Miguel Heredia, and designer Miguel García, to direct a new edition of the event, destined to create a small infrastructure in Urueta park, located in the centre of Chihuahua.

The workshop began with a participative dynamic, involving local residents in the construction of an imaginary proposal for the future of the park which divided it into a sports area, a small grove of trees and a central street acting as a nexus between both zones. During the session they sketched out future facilities, shaded areas, tiered seating and markers to link the two areas and various repairs for existing benches, but they focused above all on the reactivation of the fountain, which is located in the centre of the park and has been out of service for a number of years.

The students worked to incorporate the desires and expectations of local residents into architectural proposals. The idea of reactivating the fountain gained traction and became the definitive proposal. During one week the project was designed, and during one more week it was self-built, with the help of residents and passers-by. The workshop succeeded in getting the Town Hall to support the project and repair the fountain’s water pump.

Urban SPA is a temporary infrastructure geared towards recreational water usage. A wooden base was constructed to transform the plinth of the fountain into a small swimming deck, as well as leisure areas with tiered seating and recliners, small garden spaces and a ramp providing access to the areas. The scaffolding was used to support a small canopy made of wood and shadow mesh, hammocks, resting platforms and small lookouts. The basin of the fountain was thus transformed into an improvised swimming pool.

Urban SPA began as a unique proposal but is being reconsidered as an alternative for the reactivation of unused fountains in Chihuahua and perhaps in many other cities.


Glorieta de Bilbao, 1 piso 4º izq 28004 Madrid, Spain

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