Mexico City, Mexico
Partner (Alejandro Villarreal), Project architect (Victor Martinez) and Collaborators (Sugey Ramirez)
Structural (PESA SA de CV), Mechanic (Arq. Francisco Hernandez) and Landscape architecture (Muray Arquitectos SA de CV)
Fernando Cordero and Alejandro Villarreal
The project involves the refurbishment of a former office building built in 1981, to be converted into a residential building with 23 apartments. It is worth saying that this building was considerably damaged during the 1985 earthquake. The whole building leaned itself towards the street by 1.20 meters, so the building had a big structural intervention that straightened it to its former position and reinforced the foundations heavily so to never have a problem again.
This building is located in the Juarez district, within a historic protected area. We first developed a full project that at the end of the process (one year and a half) was rejected by the local authorities. They argued that because of the scale of the building (the only building with 15 floor plans in the area), we should be more considerate with the surroundings.
We were asked by our client to redesign the proposal, so we went to the drawing board again and ended up with a proposal that considered a visual continuum at street level with the adjacent buildings, emphasizing the building in a horizontal way and connecting it visually with its surroundings by the use of color.
The original structure of the building was left virtually intact. The first four levels of the building provide parking area and the rest of the levels house apartments of different sizes (between 137 and 189 m2), some of which have private terraces. The strategy was to leave the service areas in the heart of the apartments (kitchen, laundry and bathrooms), so as to allow all living areas to be as big and airy as possible and to have views of the city.
We designed a pierced steel facade in the main and rear facades of the building. This element was inspired by the traditional mexican handcraft of papel picado, where a piece of paper is chopped leaving holes in form of flowers, animals, people, etc.
The function of this element is to hide the old facade, to give as much views as possible to each apartment, to create an attractive element that would help with the marketing issues and to create a certain order and beauty within the chaotic urban context.
We worked carefully in the design of each of the steel plates, with reference to the original design of a papel picado bought in the market of San Angel. The texture provided by the metal facade contrasts with the application of a reddish stucco in the rest of the building, which seeks to integrate (with a low budget) the building with its urban context, especially with their roofs treated with waterproof red paint, which is one of the most common urban landscapes found in Mexico City.