Material politics, urban nature and residential neighbourhood design in the Global South: how architecture can rupture and repair the native, historical, and cultural landscapes of modern Mexico

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services released a report declaring that up to one million species are at risk of extinction within the next few decades, largely due to human activities. Urban landscapes, and the people who live in them have a critical role to play in actively reversing this current trend.

The design and construction practices of our cities shapes the way that people experience and act within them. These practices also determine the forms of nature found within these landscapes, and the role that they play in the biodiversity extinction crisis. While we are developing a strong understanding of these dynamics within countries from the Global North, we have less understanding of how they play out in the Global South, where the challenges of high indigenous biodiversity and accelerated rates of urban expansion are even greater.

This project seeks to investigate how the tensions of urban expansion and biodiversity loss might be navigated through a stronger understanding of the role that architecture, design and construction play in shaping human understandings of, and responses to nature. We focus on the INFONAVIT-sponsored developments in Monterrey, Northern Mexico as a study system, as they allow us to investigate both the social and natural legacies that emerged from the proliferation of one-story, single-family, detached units as a residential form;  and how this knowledge can be combined with material politics to create disruptions and positive transformations to deliver better outcomes for both people and nature.



The University of Melbourne: Amy Hahs.

University of Manchester: Leandro Minuchin.