Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Collaborators: Alfredo Acle, Armando Niño de Rivera, Sugey Ramírez, and Cecilia Ramírez Corzo
Partner: Alejandro Villarreal
Area: 2,511 sqm
Photographs: Fernando Cordero
The building stands on a small street in a residential neighborhood in Mexico City. Although it is located in a residential area, the street is very close to a busy commercial thoroughfare. This allows the building to be immersed in the peace and quiet of its street, and at the same time confront the urban alienation that pervades the commercial zone.
The aim of the project was to form a functional block capable of inserting itself gently in its context and dissolving or diluting the onslaught of information received from its urban setting.
The building is bounded by a single family home to the west and a convenience store to the east and south. The architectural program includes underground parking for 24 cars, and accommodates 13 apartments in two blocks, one located at the front of the lot (facing north) and the other at the rear (facing south). The two blocks are connected at each level by an area comprising a lobby, stairwells, and the elevator cluster. The rear block has five levels and the front block has four, a condition that allows its rooftop to be used as a terrace for special events. The interior spaces of the apartments were left as free as possible and left unfinished, to allow each occupant to create interiors that suit their needs and likings.
The selection of materials was limited to three ingredients: one neutral, which provides the needed connection with the urban environment (exposed concrete and gray stucco); one warm, which gives the inhabitant a connection with nature (machiche wood); and one colorful, imbuing the project with flavor and cheerfulness (blown glass and green epoxy flooring).
The façade is made up of 7,723 blown glass spheres made by craftsmen at a workshop in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Each sphere is supported by a disk of EPDM (a kind of rubber used in the automobile industry, with excellent resistance to weathering), which in turn is fastened to a stainless steel cable by means of a conventional nut. Each cable carries a maximum of 27 spheres, which are fastened at the top to the concrete structure of the building and at the bottom to structural steel elements.
This mass of spheres fulfills the purpose of creating certain introspection for the inhabitants while at the same time softens the visual experience coming from the urban setting. Also, it has shown excellent resistance to weathering; however, the main problem it has presented is its cleaning, which is done by hand and is twice as time consuming as a conventional façade.