Jardines del Pedregal
Jardines del Pedregal (English: Rocky Gardens) or simply El Pedregal is an upscale residential colonia (neighborhood) in southern Mexico City. Its borders are San Jerónimo Avenue and Ciudad Universitaria at the north, Insurgentes Avenue at the east and Periférico at south and west. Its 1,250 acres (5.1 km2) were the major real estate project undertaken by Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragán. When it was originally developed, in the mid-1940s in the lava fields of El Pedregal de San Angel, it was probably the biggest urban development the city had seen.
The area has changed a lot since its original development but even as its modernist spirit and its original elements of ecosystem protection are gone critics have described its original development, the houses and gardens as a turning point in Mexican architecture. Some of the old modernist houses have been catalogued as part of Mexico’s national patrimony.
The Pedregal lava fields were formed by the eruption of the Xitle volcano around the year 5000 BC, however there are documented eruptions up to the year 400 AD.
The area near what is currently el Pedregal, called Cuicuilco, was inhabited since ca. 1700 BC. Around 300 BC this area contained what was probably the biggest city in the Valley of Mexico at the time. Its importance started to decay around the 100 BC and was completely empty by 400 AD.
For centuries the area was a wilderness, the Aztecs would condemn people to banishment by sending them there to be bitten by the rattle snakes that lived there.
In the mid-1940s Luis Barragan began a project to urbanise the area and protect its ecosystem. Barragán had the idea of developing El Pedregal promoting the harmony between architecture and landscape. The first structures built on the site were the Plaza de las Fuentes, or Plaza of the Fountains, the Lote Muestra, or demonstration gardens and demonstration houses by Barragán and Max Cetto.
Plaza de las Fuentes
El Pedregal's original main entrance, the Plaza de las Fuentes, was completed by the second half of 1949, it stood at the intersection of Fuentes avenue and San Jerónimo. The only remaining element of the plaza is the concrete Animal del Pedregal a sculpture by Mathias Goeritz, inspired by a prehistoric animal figure etched into the rocks of El Pedregal.
Lote muestra and demonstration houses
The Lote muestra, was located on the north side of Cascada Street, between Agua street and Fuentes avenue, just south of the Plaza de las Fuentes. Though designed for public inspection, the gardens here were planned as models for the development of private space. Along with the Demonstration houses, these gardens were intended to entice prospective buyers and demonstrate the Pedregal's potential as a site for garden-homes. They were to illustrate Barragán's idea of correct building, promoting the sort of harmony between architecture and landscape that Barragán desired. Occupying about 7.4 acres (30,000 m2), the Lote Muestra were enclosed by volcanic-stone walls and iron fences and entered through metal or rough-hewn wood gates.
During summer evenings in the 1950s, classic Spanish plays, produced by Barragán and the painter and sculptor Juan Soriano, were performed here for the general public.
For sculptural effect, rocks and vegetation were left largely in place, crevices between the lava formations were cleared as paths, and at several points, rough-cut stairways passed between rock terraces. These stairways led to pools or fountains of various configurations, or to small patches of flat ground, where loam was brought in and lawns planted. The smooth surfaces of the lawns and pools provided contrast to the jagged rocks, while fountains lent kinetic and aural elements to the mix.
Although some of the original modernist residences still remain a lot of the original architecture has been substituted by more ostentatious structures. Because the original houses were built in large plots, some have been converted to horizontal condominiums or now house schools.
The Plaza de las Fuentes has been almost completely destroyed and large new office buildings now crowd it on either side, it is no longer the main entrance but just an exit street from El Pedregal. At some point after 1953, the lote muestra was divided and sold to accommodate private residences. Though the grounds of these may still contain portions of Barragán's design, all are now closed to the public.
Currently there is an exposition called “La Arquitectura del Pedregal” (the Architecture of El Pedregal) at the Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Arquitectura.
- "At the Liceo: Where Two Cultures Meet." Mexico Journal (Information). Demos, Desarrollo de Medios S.A. de C.V., 1989. p. 22. "In southernmost Mexico City, nestled within the upscale neighborhood of the Jardines del Pedre- gal, is the private campus of the exclusive Liceo Mexicano Japones. In Japan, it is believed to be the best school in Mexico because Mexico because President Salinas' two sons and daughter attend classes there. Headmaster Arturo Zentella prefers to refrain from making such a boast, but he does admit that "it is a school that[...]"
- "Inicio." Liceo Mexicano Japonés. Consultado el 21 de enero de 2014. "Camino a Santa Teresa No.1500, Col. Jardines del Pedregal C.P. 01900 México D.F."
- "DELEGACIÓN ÁLVARO OBREGÓN DIRECCIÓN GENERAL DE JURÍDICA Y DE GOBIERNO DIRECCIÓN DE GOBIERNO UNIDAD DEPARTAMENTAL DE LICENCIAS, GIROS MERCANTILES Y ESPECTÁCULOS PÚBLICOS." (Archive) Álvaro Obregón, D.F. p. 7/7. Retrieved on January 21, 2014. "LICEO MEXICANO JAPONES, A.C. JARDINES DEL PEDREGAL CAMINO A SANTA TERESA Num Ext. 1500 LICEO MEXICANO JAPONES JARDINES DEL PEDREGAL CAMINO A SANTA TERESA Num Ext. 1500"