El Manantial Comunal is a communal fountain that brings community members together through the provision of drinking water and the establishment of rituals around the celebration of water. Drawing inspiration from Altepetl, the way a settlement was framed in Aztec society, this project looks to water as a means to form a civic identity, new community groups in Santa Maria la Ribera.
On a corner lot at the intersection of Naranjo and Manuel Carpio, there is an abandoned concrete shell that has started to crumble, leaving a single tower remaining. This lot is sandwiched between two residential buildings on either side, forming two courtyards that lie diagonal from one another, one that lies deeper inside the block than the courtyard formed by the shell.
El Manantial Comunal begins as an alliance between the owners of the lot’s neighboring buildings, using the two courtyards to establish common pools for the block. These two courtyards become the sites of two wells, receptacles for water collected off nearby roofs. Connecting these two pools is an iconic fountain, bringing water from the back pool to the front pool via an Archimedes screw and a series of sculptural basins that cascade down towards the front pool. As the water travels down the fountain, it is distributed to programs that have become nestled into the edges of the existing buildings.
This fountain is built up over time. It begins as three monumental walls that support the existing buildings and frame the courtyard, rising up from the lot. These walls support large basins that provide shade and distribute water. After the fountain is built, community members mosaic the structure using pieces from recycled objects that did not go into the neighborhood archive in a communal ceremony. Beyond the fountain, El Manantial Comunal also has classrooms and rooms where community groups and religious organizations can hold ceremonies involving water.
Over time, the rituals associated with the fountain bleed into the neighborhood as the neighborhood bleeds into it, helping other community members set up similar systems and organize amongst their neighbors. What begins as a steady intervention, a communal spring built up over time, becomes a means of forming a collective identity in the neighborhood of Santa Maria La Ribera.