Research Spotlight - Irene Chinchilla Mejia

Author: Kelly Girst

Irene Chinchilla Mejia Headshot

Irene Chinchilla Mejia

Major: Architecture
Research Location: University of California - Berkeley

Irene travelled to UC-Berkeley to partake in a summer course focused on New Urbanism and Sustainable Design, one that was not offered by Notre Dame. Her research centers around what would be the best course of action when it comes to the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa. Prone to flooding and mudslides due to its mountainous topography, lack of water access and insecurity, Tegucigalpa is a city plagued by a lack of planning for future generations. Her research proposed two potential solutions: regenerating the historic downtown, which could tackle various issues caused by inadequate urban design, or creating a new master plan for the ancient Honduran capital of Comayagua. She then tested these proposals alongside New Urbanism developments in similar sites to observe their advantages and shortcomings.

Irene says, "Notre Dame has a very traditional architecture course and as such, has a very specific way of doing things. However, the world's needs are quickly changing in terms of what we need out of our built environment and to successfully put into practice my future role as an architect, I needed to be exposed to other ways of designing and priorities. Berkeley has a much more modern way of designing and its priorities seem more realistic for the world in which I will be designing. By bridging the gap between traditional design with new resiliency tools, I'm getting the best out of both worlds for my education."