Crossreadings: From Domestic to Urban in CDMX
Proposal for Seoul Biennale 2021 (SBAU 2021)

Our exhibition showcases “fan zine” publications that were printed in 2019 and 2020 for coursework as part of the KTH Urbanism Studies masters’ program. The program is composed of students from a constellation of professions, home countries, orientations, and experiences. Students offered their own subjective perspectives on issues in a city that is among the most complex in the world. 

Each group utilized Hannes Meyer’s 12 points of departure for the organization of architecture, found in the 1928 Bauen manifesto, as an analytic lens through which singular life processes were studied and responded to with a series of strategic design proposals. Meyer himself emigrated to Mexico City and was active in politics, serving as a director of the Instituto del Urbanismo y Planificación, drawing a connection between our interest in the collectivization of life processes for a better quality of urban life.

The zines present different functions of how domestic life is played out in public, covering 10 of the 12 points defined by Meyer, such as “Sex Life” and “Car Maintenance,” and a view of the city through each lens. At scales ranging from 1:10 and 1:10,000, the pages contain drawings, photographs, and writing regarding observations on everyday life in Mexico City. 

Each zine culminates in a strategic design proposal relevant to the lens through which the city was studied. Each proposal is placed in a fictional timeline in which their ability to positively affect urban life expands because of changing conditions to the problems they are proposed against. 

Design Strategy

The “Crossreadings” installation is a form that complements the content in order to provide a waiting room space where the visitors can interact with the main exhibit, i.e. the risograph zines, and carefully study, or ‘crossread,’ them while experiencing a representation of a public site in Mexico City. The spatial configuration is set as an exploration of the transition between the private and public spheres, which can also be seen as a bodily experience of crossing the liminal boundaries of safety and risk. 

As a recreation of a typical space, the installation seeks to show the blending of private life into public space. The proposed structure presents a waiting room in which a four-metre diameter circle is either suspended or supported by metal pillars from below (depending on the needed solution), with a sheer fabric curtain defining the space of the installation. The curtain promotes curiosity from outside the fabric through visible shadows and light from within. Additionally, the curtain divides the colourfulness and vibrancy of the interior space from the perceived sterile appearance of the exterior. 

Placed just off-centre is a kiosk, in the type of a magazine stand, covered with a fabric tarp, backed by wire mesh, with wooden shelves, that displays the zines that are the essential content of our proposal. Such magazine stands are widely found throughout Mexico City and are informal meeting points where people receive printed news and entertainment. Multiple copies of 10 different risograph zines will be available for reading, with each topic presenting a different lens through which domestic life processes, often occurring in the private sphere, are brought into public space in Mexico City, based on Hannes Meyer’s 12-point manifesto. The zines are colourful, give attractiveness and interest to the kiosk, and also refer to the chaotic yet extraordinary urban environment of Mexico City. 

Team Mayra Reis, Christopher Carreira Chau, Malin Heyman, Michaela Litsardaki, Alejandra Navarrete Llopis, Veronica Rivas Plaza, Michael Stapor
Year 2020
Role Designer & Visualiser
Category Competition Entry
Stage Concept Design
Location South Korea