chinampas – mammoth // building nothing out of something


[Chinampas, artificial agricultural islands in Xochimilco, Mexico, photographed by flickr user Colibri.  The chinampas have been constructed in the lakes around Mexico City since pre-Columbian times; posts are driven into the lake bottom in shallows, connected into walls by weaving branches horizontally between the posts, and the resultant enclosures are filled with fertile soil from dredged by hand from the lake.  Rows of Ahuehuete, a willow, are planted along the edges, so that their growing root systems bind and reinforce the edges of the chinampas.  More recently, the chinampas have served as inspiration and model for the use of constructed wetlands to treat wastewater in Xochimilco (pdf).]

4 Responses to “chinampas”

  1. faslanyc says:

    yep, the chinampas are pretty cool- sophisticated, low tech interventions that adapt over time.

    mario schjetnan has done a career’s worth of interesting work down in that area, working with similar ideas, though i don’t believe he ever integrated chinampas…

    he’s very interesting though. another one of those old timer’s who was doing landscape infrastructure before landscape infrastructure was landscape infrastructure.

    he has a nice barragan-esque aesthetic, too.

  2. rob says:

    I enjoy Schjetnan, as well (though I’m only relatively recently familiar with his work) — and I think (after checking on it) that his Xochimilco park does in fact claim to be inspired by (though I don’t think it really integrates) the chinampas.

    Would the chinampas be an example of what you were calling a lo-fi landscape? I kind of think so (and that one could probably come up with a modern take on the chinampas that would fit even better)…

  3. faslanyc says:

    yes, xochimilco was kind of a modern take, though perhaps a bit superficial. nonetheless, interesting- this cultural landscape cum landscape ecology.

    yes, in fact i had a little paragraph at the end that mentioned/linked to the chinampas and how they related to chubs and the idea of lo fi landscapes.

    kate orff seems to be a big proponent of this approach, including the latest rising tides stuff she’s doing. i haven’t had a chance to look it over well, but it piques my interest at first glance…

  4. rholmes says:

    See, now I’m feeling bad, for my lazy reading of your post (I read it all, but too quickly, and missed the chinampas reference). And now I just look like a biter…