Roberto Ransom Ruiz


Process Embodied: Running as World Building

Advised by Gareth Doherty

The practice of long-distance running is an embodiment of the complex relationship of the Tarahumara people to the landscape. Can it serve as a multidimensional design driver for landscape architecture? This thesis explores running as a world building practice through the project of a greenbelt corridor in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico. The green belt, as a network of interwoven programs and typologies, presents a microcosm from which to negotiate the overlapping and fraught realities of the larger territory. Running reveals and deploys the landscape practices of the local Tarahumara people, renowned for their long-distance running ability. Running operates in dialogue with their culture and cosmology, which is grounded by environmental theocentrism, engaged in a constant process of negotiation with the landscape and environmental cycles.

Spatially, the project seeks to create a network of flows and sequences that allow for multiple narratives to occur in the everyday. As the practice of running interweaves the urban fabric and the existing ecology, the core of the experience is defined by our ability to navigate the landscape on foot. This experience includes a powerful social dimension, as ritualized games and races born from abstractions of the ancestral practice of persistence hunting shape running today. Materially driven activities, such as agriculture and water management, enable the nourishment and habits necessary for running and shape the spatial experience through process. The implicit universality of running as a human experience, embedded within a specific urban and territorial fabric, encourages us to embrace otherness.

Roberto Ransom Ruiz, MLA I AP. Illustration of a circular pattern containing line drawings of deer and people running.