Above: Perspective of Arts District.

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Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Weiztman School of Design

Project Type. Urban Park

Size. 80 Acres

Professor. Claire Fellman | Team. Denise Paredes

YAAX KAHAL

Project. Located blocks away from a few of Merida’s major historic gems, La Plancha Yaax Kahal (Green Place) takes a modern twist on the traditional identity of Mexico’s rich cultural capital. The new design takes on challenges of urban conditions including accessibility, adaptive reuse on site, and public heritage to regenerate and reconnect a historic feature back into the city’s cultural fabric. Keeping true to the historic context of the site, a once booming rail station, the porous park with verdant layers of landscape habitats offers unique experiences for all to discover through visual sensory and interactions. On an urban scale, the park relinks to the city via way of a new greenway city system.

Goal. The park intends to foster social equity by taking into consideration neighboring development opportunities, where an economic succession will trigger and bring momentum to the site developing it into a new urban destination, Merida’s first Cultural Arts District. La Plancha Yaax Kahal overlays new program and Yucatecan culture welcoming tourists, locals, and commuters alike offering something for everyone.

DESIGN PRINCIPLES

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URBAN STRATEGIES - CITY WIDE CONNECTION 

Bike Loops. A large bike culture presently exists in the City of Merida. With weekly "Ciclavia" bike rides taking place, bicyclists take on the streets of the city rotating routes. From first-hand experience, the popular event brought out dozens of residents ranging from toddler to elderly - there was a sense of pride gleaming from the group winding through neighborhoods and passing city landmarks. Bike lanes were rarely present and thus with the macro street intervention, bike loops were introduced to develop safer conditions for bicyclists.
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Trains. An emphasis was placed on reusing existing elements on site when laying out each curated district area, Arts District, Social District, and Recreation/Ecological District. Rail infrastructure is converted into planting strips and paths while trains sitting on-site are proposed to hold new flexible programming (ie. cafe, hammock center, shared book station, etc.) to act as visual historical representations to honor the once-thriving train station - a gem of Merida. A major goal was to improve what is existing and strengthen these already strong features.

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Arts District Section

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Social District Materials Plan

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Social District Shadow Studies + Sections

Social District. Creating a social space to hold large scale events was vital in this design. A large hardscaped plaza space holds flexible programming surrounding with tensile structures found throughout the site. These structures have several purposes, lighting, shade, and visual markers. "Tu y yo" seating is peppered throughout the district, an homage to Mexican culture and further encourages social engagement. 

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