Restoring urban rivers to a healthy relationship to the cities within which they flow is a process of great import as it touches on the environmental, economic, public health, recreational, open space and sociological needs of the cities in which they run, forging linkages with disparate communities along its waterway. It is an effort to not be taken lightly as it is an evolving process that requires resources and time. The city of Uruapan in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, is blessed with the farsightedness and vision to undertake consideration of such a process to restore its River Cupatitzio, a gem of a spectacular canyon sourcing within the city boundaries with copious cascading springs, lush vegetation and spectacular views. Initially residing within the Parque Nacional Barranca del Cupatitzio, much of the river beyond the national park is challenged by an urban fabric that mostly turns its back on the powerful potential that resides within the river. This is the opportunity that presents itself to the City of Uruapan.
Muñoz & Company was honored to be invited to Uruapan by the Municipality, CAPASU and IMPLAN URUAPAN, the municipal planning agency, to tour the river and speak concerning the evolution of the San Antonio River to the essential urban feature it is today, and our design process for our San Pedro Creek restoration project in San Antonio. This occurred at the Conferencia Taller “Rescate de Rios Urbanos”, or “Rescuing Urban Rivers” Conference Workshop. Randy Hohlaus, AIA, principal with Muñoz & Company, illuminated the history, the challenges, the inspirations, the necessities and the success of the San Antonio story as a case study of how a city can “Live with Water” and its urban waterways, and the lessons as how they can apply to Uruapan in enhancing the economic and civic success of the city. Key in this endeavor were our partners, Ed Quiroga of Metaform Studio and Juan Homero Sanchez of JHS Architects of Laredo. Stakeholders including business people, municipal leaders, local design professionals, and students from three local universities participated in a lively discussion concerning our experiences and design and how the lessons of San Antonio can apply to Uruapan and the Cupatitzio.
Perhaps just as exciting, as part of the workshop the students of the Universidad Contemporanea de las Americas, the Universidad Don Vasco, and the University Vizcaya de las Americas participated in a charrette to revitalize a section of the lower Cupatitzio within the town. The creativity and depth of thinking about the problem by the students was impressive, resulting in five unique takes on how the waterway can be restored in its relationship with the urban fabric.
The people of Uruapan are warm, friendly and great hosts. Many thanks to IMPLAN URUAPAN for coordinating this endeavor to educate the Uruapan community with the insight of our design experiences.