- Project Architects:Alejandro Zárate de la Torre, Edgar Velasco Casillas
- Collaborators:Mario Pliego, Eliud Martínez, Norma Contreras, Didier López
- Landscape:Entorno / PAAR Carlos Alberto & Paola Lopez
- Exterior Furniture:Ariel Rojo
- Interior Furniture:Perigonal
- Texts:Alejandro Fernández
- Construction:Colectivo A Heriberto Maldonado / Alfonso Baez
- City:Ciudad de México
Text description provided by the architects. The building dates from the early twentieth century and is listed due to its historical and artistic heritage value by the INBA, the INAH and SEDUVI. It was originally intended to house multiple dwellings but in its long life has sheltered from the headquarters for the United Mexican Booksellers to a pastry shop. All that previous experience is precisely what gives it a particular personality and makes its interior space unique. As happens with a real individual, the building acquires its character through its experiences, almost empirically, and hence its distinguishing marks, scars, wrinkles, which in this project will not be erased or cleared, but will form part of the expression when acquiring a new use, one more chapter in its rich life.
The context in which the site is located has suffered many causalities over time. In the early twentieth century it was an area of country houses, but the growth of the city and its proximity to the historic center caused the abandonment of these properties. The massive destruction that the earthquake of 1985 generated in the neighborhoods of the city center, a negative effect on the dynamics of population distribution and the consolidation of historic districts of the urban area.
As it is a listed building by the INBA, the intervention must preserve the essence of the existing architectural object. It responds to the requirements of three different government bodies, flexible spaces and visual breadth, seeking to give each customer a sense of ownership of their space, emphasizing the entrance plaza.
To create without building sounds like an almost impossible goal, but certainly effective and innovative. The idea behind the project is dominant over any formal representation of it. It is precisely the clarity of a concept which determines the power behind a project that is visually very attractive, overcoming the physical elements that materialize it into reality. In the end what remains is a memory rich in sensations, generated from everything that is and was, of unexpected and constant stimuli in which what is predominant is the space more than anything -the architecture.
There are some successful precedents that have handled the ideas mentioned above, as the work of Donald Judd in Marfa, Texas, or more recently the El Matadero project in Madrid, interventions that go beyond taking an "old" shell and rejuvenating it. It is about playing with the existing, not adapting it, renewing it or improving it, but simply using it, a more courageous and complex action than what it seems, an action that is almost against the alleged work of the architect widespread in schools and the workplace of the profession. It is about making architecture without building.
From the earliest sketches, we sought to generate solid and empty blocks, that is the positive and negative between spaces, the arrangement of these blocks in which we play with their height around a central courtyard. With this we achieve static spaces (living rooms, study) and dynamic spaces (stairs, corridors).
The building's interior is rich in textures, they abound. Textures that cannot be produced artificially, textures generated only with the passage of time and that in no way will be denied. No matter if there is worn paint, exposed partitions, vegetation coming out of the walls or beams that once held something and now are almost sculptural features, nothing is touched, the only "limit" is of course the preservation of the building.