Subterranea: Surveying Guanajuato’s Underground Infrastructure

In a previous post F.A.D. discussed the remarkable experience of walking in the city of Guanajuato: the odd perception of never being quite sure where the ground plane is due to the shifting and merging planes of a multi-floored, steeply undulating metropolis.  I was delighted to find that thenorthroom has actually mapped one of the many subterranean tunnels with  high definition Survey equipment:

“This study presents preliminary results from La Subterranea, an ongoing research project which takes its name from a tunnel and viaduct system running underneath and through the city of Guanajuato, Mexico. As riverbed, vehicular thoroughfare, and the historical back alley to the city, La Subterranea has evolved in a state of tension with the city above. Its use, form, and place has shifted over time, registering changing attitudes towards hygiene, shifts in transportation and hydrological infrastructure, and alterations to the natural topography. At present, La Subterranea is embraced as uniquely embedded cultural capital—contributing to the city’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 1988—and as a practical solution to the transportation problems in the city center.”

“This study presents preliminary results from La Subterranea, an ongoing research project which takes its name from a tunnel and viaduct system running underneath and through the city of Guanajuato, Mexico. As riverbed, vehicular thoroughfare, and the historical back alley to the city, La Subterranea has evolved in a state of tension with the city above. Its use, form, and place has shifted over time, registering changing attitudes towards hygiene, shifts in transportation and hydrological infrastructure, and alterations to the natural topography. At present, La Subterranea is embraced as uniquely embedded cultural capital—contributing to the city’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 1988—and as a practical solution to the transportation problems in the city center.”

“While Guanajuato and La Subterranea co-evolved into the interwoven system it is today, their contingent development has produced spaces of uncertain allegiance—neither wholly of the subterranean nor wholly of the city proper. The result is an uneven morphology, a subtle incongruity of form and fabric, where moments of correspondence give way to moments of complete misalignment. The result is an interference pattern in which the overlay of the two systems at times shows correspondences of alignment and access and at times a counter patterning of seemingly misregistered street axes and criss-crossing vectors. In this erosion and misalignment, then, lies the fundamental ambiguity of this system. La Subterranea is simultaneously an artifact and a void, a presence and an absence.”

Plan view of entire Subterrania tunnel.  View the animation  and all images here

All quotes and images courtesy of thenorthroom (inversion of images by F.A.D.)

Thanks Emily!

This study presents preliminary results from La Subterranea, an ongoing research project which takes its name from a tunnel and viaduct system running underneath and through the city of Guanajuato, Mexico. As riverbed, vehicular thoroughfare, and the historical back alley to the city, La Subterranea has evolved in a state of tension with the city above. Its use, form, and place has shifted over time, registering changing attitudes towards hygiene, shifts in transportation and hydrological infrastructure, and alterations to the natural topography. At present, La Subterranea is embraced as uniquely embedded cultural capital—contributing to the city’s designation as a World Heritage Site in 1988—and as a practical solution to the transportation problems in the city center.

One comment

  1. Stan Freid · ·

    Hi, I’ve been to Gaunajuatoa two times for brief sortes from San Miguel de Allende. I have found Guanajuato fascinating. It is the location of a few chapters of my novel, Magck In Mexico (to be finished this summer). I have sketched out an ending of this supernatural adventure to be played out in the subterranean caverns under the city. I know this is a tough order but I cannot visit Guanajuato again, any time soon, so I need to immerse myself in what it feels like to be exploring the Subterranea first hand. Any suggestions?
    Stan

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