The Earthscraper / BNKR Arquitectura

model 01

The Earthscraper, designed by BNKR Arquitectura, is the Skyscraper’s antagonist in the historic urban landscape of City where the latter is condemned and the preservation of the built environment is the paramount ambition. It preserves the iconic presence of the city square and the existing hierarchy of the buildings that surround it. More images and architects’ description after the break.

aerial view

The Historic Center of Mexico City is composed of different layers of cities superimposed on top of each other. When the Aztecs first came into the Valley of Mexico they built their pyramids on the lake they found there. When a new and bigger pyramid was conceived and the Aztec Empire grew in size and power, they did not search for a new site, they just built on it and around the existing one. In this manner, the pyramids are composed of different layers of historical periods.

main section

When the Spanish arrived in America and ultimately conquered the Aztecs, they erected their Christian temples atop their pyramids. Eventually their whole colonial city was built on top of the Aztec one. In the 20th century, many colonial buildings were demolished and modern structures raised on the existing historic foundations. So in a way, Mexico City is like a massive layered cake: a modern metropolis built on the foundations of a colonial city that was erected on top of the ancient pyramids that were constructed on the lake.

empty plaza

The main square of Mexico City, known as the “Zocalo”, is 57,600 m2 (240m x 240m), making it one of the largest in the world. It is bordered by the Cathedral, the National Palace and the City Government buildings. A flagpole stands at its center with an enormous Mexican flag ceremoniously raised and lowered each day. This proved as the ideal site for the Earthscraper: an inverted skyscraper that digs down through the layers of cities to uncover our roots.

communal space

The design is an inverted pyramid with a central void to allow all habitable spaces to enjoy natural lighting and ventilation. To conserve the numerous activities that take place on the city square year round (concerts, political manifestations, open-air exhibitions, cultural gatherings, military parades.), the massive hole will be covered with a glass floor that allows the life of the Earthscraper to blend with everything happening on top.

Architect: BNKR Arquitectura
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Partners: Esteban Suárez (Founding Partner), Sebastián Suárez
Project Leader: Arief Budiman
Project Team: Arief Budiman, Diego Eumir, Guillermo Bastian, Adrian Aguilar
Collaborators: Jorge Arteaga, Zaida Montañana, Santiago Becerra
Area: 775,000 m2
Status: Competition
Photography: Sebastian Suárez


Cite: Furuto, Alison. "The Earthscraper / BNKR Arquitectura" 04 Aug 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 29 May 2015. <>
  • George John

    really cool

    • Lucas

      Cool? Nahh… LAME!

      • osonu

        The first time I saw this project I was hoping it could be just a joke or a creative idea proposed… I really really hope that there’s still someone there that can talk about respect for our culture and history!!! The cost to keep up the palaces arround would be much more that to construct that “bunker”

  • Alex

    What is the plan for all of the removed earth?

    • mechati

      IT will be dumped at your backyard

  • Tosh

    This is SPARTAAA!

  • sina pakand

    it can be success if it be made like this renders!

  • Jay

    This would be really cool… if you appreciate not having any natural daylight in most of the ´building´.

    • Lou

      They already have a solution for that; use fiber optic lighting.

  • DeBraido

    How about the energy you need to push the waste up?
    Ventilation in a void with no way out?

    please do not show this kind of project in Dubai ou any country ruled by a Sheik!