Our evolution


Year 2009

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In 2009, Isla Urbana installed their first rainwater harvesting system in the house of Mrs Clara Gaytan. Filled with enthusiasm by the impact of this system, our small team went to live in the colonia Cultura Maya in the Ajusco and the project was founded formally. Our co-founder and teacher Carlos Moscoso, died in December.
The first rainwater harvesting system installed by Isla Urbana continues to operate, providing the family clean water for more than 8 months of the year.
Enrique and Carlos at one of the first installations.


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In 2010 we started our first large-scale project in collaboration with the Tlalpan delegation. We participated in the BBC World Challenge and started to work with the Wixárika people (Ha Ta Tukari Project) in the mountains of Jalisco in collaboration with Concentrarte AC.
Part of the team of Ha Ta Tukari (Agua Nuestra Vida) in Cebolleta, Jalisco.


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In 2011, we continued to work in the Ajusco and in the mountains with the Huichol (Wixárika). This year, we also participated in the programme: Intiative México and started design on the Tlaloque (First-Flush), enabling us to capture the rainfall in a more effective and practical way.
Prototype of the first Tlaloque (First-Flush) made of fiberglass.


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In 2012, with support from HSBC’s Corporate Sustainability, we extended the scope of our work to Xochimilco and started to produce the first Tlaloques. We did systematic follow-up studies in collaboration with IRRI México and Engineers Without Borders UK to understand how to maximize the adoption of systems. Isla Urbana enters the network of entrepreneurs from Ashoka.
One of the first installations of a Tlaloque in Cultura Maya, Tlalpan. Here, we filmed the video for the maintenance manual.


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In 2013, the project was devoted to making improvements to the systems and deployment models in communities. We continued the installations in Tlalpan and Xochimilco, and started to work in the Mazateca mountains. Isla Urbana was recognised by MIT Technology Review as one of the 35 most innovative projects in the world, led by young people. We began to look more widely for ways to include environmental education workshops into our community projects.
The educational work was realised in collaboration with Concentrarte. Picture: Analí Cervantes.


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In 2014, we carried out a project with SEMARNAT in the State of Hidalgo that included 106 catchment systems, filters for greywater systems, and a program of intensive collaboration and focus on community work with various artists. We followed up with our installed systems and found they were doing extremely well. This year, we worked with one of the first communities, the Wixarika, and installed rainwater systems in all of the houses. Toward the end of the year, we had successfully installed 2.000 systems.
Project financed by by SEMARNAT in the state of Hidalgo, working in collaboration with  Concentrarte and Zekuollaz. Picture: Camaroni Producciones
In Cebolleta, Jalisco, all of the houses now have a rainwater harvesting system. Foto: Cate Cameron.


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This year we started to collaborate with SECITI-DF to extend and enhance the projects in the Ajusco, Xochimilco and Milpa Alta. We installed 150 systems in rural homes near Malinalco, and 50 in the city of Oaxaca. Both projects and community work were carried out with Concentrarte and Artolution. We are continuing the close monitoring of our system installations, artwork and workshops in the communities.
We have installed more than 1500 systems in Mexico City.


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We founded our design department and began to collaborate on various studies with university programs such as CIECO y PUMAGUA at UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico). We designed the Atali cistern, the first cistern designed by Isla Urbana, which is made with geomembrane in collaboration with Biobolsa. Further, we formed serious partnerships with three of Mexico City’s municipalities, Iztapalapa, Xochimilco, y Tlalpan. Thanks to this, we installed more systems than we ever had before—more than 1,000 in just one year!
Photo of an installation in a primary school in Ajusco, sponsored by Cargill. Photograph: Minga Visual


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We funded our communications department, installed systems in various schools throughout Mexico City, and our environmental education project, “La Carpa Azul,” had a widespread impact in Xochimilco. This year, we installed more than 7,000 rainwater harvest systems! Additionally, we created the “Tlaloquito” or “Tlaloque 40,” which separates the first dirty rainwater, specifically designed for small or rural houses. The Tlaloque 40 was first used for first response during the water network’s collapse following the earthquake on September 19. This first response initiative raised enough funds to install over 100 rainwater harvesting systems in the affected regions of Xochimilco and Álvaro Obregón.
Mural painted by the Carpa Azul in collaboration with Zekuollaz and our neighbors, the rainwater capturers of Xochimilco. Photograph: Minga Visual


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We hosted “The 1st Encounter of Rainwater Harvesting and Management in Mexico City,” an event that brought together Mexico City’s main actors in rainwater harvesting and sustainable infrastructure. We scaled up our “Escuelas de Lluvia” program, participating in more than 10 schools and involving the entire community, including, families, teachers, and students. We gave various presentations demonstrating how our systems work, like in the San Francisco Atrium and in the historic center. We installed a system in La Feria Chapultepec—an amusement park in Mexico City—and continued our installations in Tlalpan y Xochimilco. Further, our Carpa Azul initiative continued working with children on environmental education in Xochimilco, and it celebrated 3 years running!
A demonstration of an installation in the San Francisco Atrium, in collaboration with the Historic Center Foundation and MAPA.


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Coming soon