Barrio de los Paracaidistas / Metous Studio

Metous Studio, a young mock firm of 10 undergraduate architecture students from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo working under the guidance of the head partners and Anthony Stahl, have designed a fresh and dynamic housing tower for Mexio City. Placing above 30 international entries, Lee and Stahl’s tower has been awarded first prize in the 2010 Mock Firms International Skyscraper Challenge: Collegiate Division.  Their approach reconfigures the traditional Mexican street as an open-air high-rise to provide unlimited potential for a new type of urban environment.  ”The meaning of the tower is a living being that breathes in the city and is truly defined by Mexican culture and people,” explained Lee and Stahl.

Check out some great images, diagrams and much more about the award winning project after the break.

By shifting key components of Mexico’s urban fabric to the vertical dimension, a new three-dimensional urban organizational grid is formed.   The street is continued from the ground plane and becomes the connecting thread linking the entire tower.  The street reacts to sunlight, wind, adjacencies and population density, as it sometimes widens for commercial activity, an open green space, or to provide visual and circulatory freedom.

To address environmental concerns present in over-populated areas, the tower contains both a massive water filtration system and air filtration system.  Using these systems, the tower acts like “an urban lunge” and cleanses the entire city.

The tower’s structural framework affords the design a sense of flexibility, allowing it to be adapted to the community’s needs over time.  The system has the potential to support a series of vertical neighborhoods that grow around and into one another. Sub-public and private spaces evolve organically, creating complex urban spaces similar to those of historic Mexico.

Each building within this new vertical city is self-structural and built into the larger super-structure.   This non-modular system “allows neighborhoods to develop with a richness and diversity reminiscent of the larger Mexico City context” Over time, the tower will be defined by those who have lived there, making it a testament to Mexico’s past and allowing a built object to reveal the history of the different neighborhoods.

Kudos to all the students involved, especially Lee and Stahl who presented their approach to the entire Architecture School; we find this project truly exciting.

Firm Organization

Founder and Head Design Partner: David Lee and Anthony Stahl

Lead Graphic Designer: Ryan Baczek

Team Members: Cameron Northrop, Dion Dekker, Bailey Robertson, Marielle Suba, Zach Crocker, Andrew Wright, Tiffany Carlson, Tao Li, Danielle Lieu, Alyssa Llanos

Faculty Advisor: Marc J. Neveu

Cite: Cilento, Karen. "Barrio de los Paracaidistas / Metous Studio" 03 Jun 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 21 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Nice, but… If our city is a disorder now, they propose a disorder in the highs? that’s not a good image of our city… It reminds me the favela’s of brazil

  2. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    It’s a Joke?

    What kind of architecture is this?. This project don´t undesrtand the mexico city matters.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    this is a beautiful project for some undergraduates! congratulations! i know some graduates/architects, who can’t provide such quality – great work, guys!

    (and if you read here some bad comments: these are the graduates/architects, who never made it that far…)

  4. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Im from Mexico, just graduate and I can tell you this proyect don’t respond in any kind of way to any of the many problems we have in Mexico City. I cant imagine this monstrosity next to la alameda or next to El Palacio de Bellas Artes. Just awful!!!!

  5. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I like the conceptual approach, and also the fact that identity isn’t destroyed by density is definitely a positive thing to see!
    But however this project is worked out very well and goes a step further then other entries of this concept, it doesn’t solve the problems of dwelling on that scale and height.

    Although the project doesn’t contain all the original facets of architecture, it is always good to think out of the box in search for dwelling concepts.

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I´m a student still, and this is the type of stuff i would actually design, and it being a mock, it´s all good to me… although it doesn’t seem like something like it being built ever… also, it does seem so out of place, and it is in a stark contrast to its immediate area. maybe its what the undergrads where trying to do, but its just doesn’t seem to fit in the context.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    el espacio se me hace bastante interesante, pero por que tanto lenguaje en las fachadas, como un collage de barrios mexicanos… pero al final de todo es un buen trabajo academico…

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Looks just like the barrios in Mexico, an interesting way to preserve the context

  9. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I have a interesting idea, put all the architects envolved in this building joke living in this vertical slum for 10 years.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      wow, what a sophisticated and mature comment. keep drinking that hateraid mr. duarte

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    While the form might, at the very least, take some getting used to, this is pretty cool as a speculative project. I was excited to see the ‘streetside character’ image because it seemed like it grounded it more in reality, but was disappointed in that it was more a matter-of-fact ‘here’s what our scheme does’ type thing rather than a design based on actual analysis of a Mexican street.

    In the formation of this vertical city, nothing of the traditional patterns of how Mexico City settled has been shown. While it does say “by shifting key components of Mexico’s urban fabric to the vertical dimension, a new three-dimensional urban organizational grid is formed”, it does little to show what key components they’re applying to this vertical neighborhood. Isn’t that critical?

  11. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Nice design, allthought an artistic explanation to the endemic metropolis of mexico city.
    Why not? The local tradition is full of builded mountains, favelas and puntos de desgracias. The Pueblo trdition with the colours is shown here mixed with the old modern megastructure-the city inside the city.
    Not a solution but a manifest

  12. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    people in mexico city prefers make chaos on the ground than in the sky. chaos horizontal rather than vertical is easier to control. good trial!

  13. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    if the subject was ‘add complexity to a complex urban context’ then yes, this project is successful. From any other point of view, this proposal fails.

  14. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I do not see how this would increase the crime rate. On the contrary, I could see projects like this structure having an extremely low crime rate. If a crime were to be committed in a vertical environment, they would be able to shut down/guard a minimal number of ground level exit strategies as opposed to a web of streets, impossible to shut down at moments notice. Unless the criminal is a pro base jumper…

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