(Dedos de la esperanza, Les doigts de l'espérance)
It all started in the summer of 1995, when a seminar on popular housing in the developing world was held in the coastal town of Ixtapa- Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Organized conjointly by the Minimum Cost Housing Group of the McGill University School of Architecture, the College of Architects of the State of Guerrero and the municipal government in Ixtapa- Zihuatanejo, it addressed problems of informal and low-income settlements and examined strategies for their upgrading.
The team of seven students left Montreal in early June and worked on site in Zihuatanejo and La Esperanza from June 10 to August 2. The material that they have collected and assembled presents a snapshot –a time exposure, to be more accurate – of the community. It includes large-scale measured drawings of a selection of houses, hundreds of photographs and slides, eight hours of video, and a comprehensive portfolio of sketches and watercolours. It describes the topography of the site and how living patterns acknowledge the landscape; it documents local building traditions and built form in relation to climate and to material and human resources; and it examines infrastructure and site services and the extraordinary extent to which the residents, particularly the women, are able to provide for their families under adverse conditions.
Their fieldwork and upgrading proposals are eloquently and colourfully described in the twelve essays that follow.
Introduction by David Covo and Vikram Bhatt
Essay 1: I Still Dream of Hot Tortillas by Julieete Patterson
Essay 2: Turismo, vivienda y desarrollo by Manuel Lara
Essay 3: Material Culture in La Esperanza by Sarwat Viquar
Essay 4: Suburban Dreams by Sukaina Kubba
Essay 5: A Television but no walls on the outskirts of paradise by Juliette Patterson
Essay 6: Of Earthquakes and Minotaurs by Sukaina Kubba
Essay 7: Women and Water by Laurel Miles
Essay 8: Women and Water by Aitor Iturralde
Essay 9: Water and Sewage: The Big Question by Sandra Haefelfinger
Essay 10: Terre d'opportunités et de dépaysements by Jean-Maxime Dufresne
Essay 11: Ces maisons-caméléons cachées dans l'ombre: les petites entreprises adaptées au domicile by Jean-Maxime Dufresne
Essay 12: La Madrina by Laurel Miles