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AD Classics: Los Manantiales / Felix Candela

via wikiarquitectura © Flickr user Emmanual Hernandez via wikiarquitectura via www.rkett.com + 25

This article was originally published on April 14, 2014. To read the stories behind other celebrated architecture projects, visit our AD Classics section.

With the design for Los Manantiales, Felix Candela’s experimental form finding gave rise to an efficient, elegant, and enduring work of structural art. Comprised of four intersecting hypars, a strikingly thin roof surface creates a dramatic dining space. Built as Candela was establishing an international reputation as the foremost shell building, he demonstrated to the world his masterful combination of artistry and technical virtuoso.

Concrete Shells: Design Principles and Examples

Let's think of a paper sheet. If we tried to stiffen it from its primary state, it couldn't support its own weight. However, if we bend it, the sheet achieves a new structural quality. The shells act in the same way. "You can't imagine a form that doesn't need a structure or a structure that doesn't have a form. Every form has a structure, and every structure has a form. Thus, you can't conceive a form without automatically conceiving a structure and vice versa". [1] The importance of the structural thought that culminates in the constructed object is then, taken by the relationship between form and structure. The shells arise from the association between concrete and steel and are structures whose continuous curved surfaces have a minimal thickness; thus they are widely used in roofs of large spans without intermediate supports.

In structural terms, they are efficient because they resist compression efforts and absorb at specific points on their surface, especially near the supports — small moments of flexion.

7 Abandoned and Deteriorating Latin American Architectural Classics

How many lives does a great work of architecture have? The first begins when it is built and inhabited, judged based on the quality of life it provides for its residents. The second comes generations later when it becomes historically significant and perhaps its original function no longer suits the demands of society. The value of such buildings is that they inform us about the past and for that reason their conservation is necessary.

However, in Latin America, there are countless cases of buildings of great architectural value that are in tragic states of neglect and deterioration. Seven such examples are:

30 Sites Every Architect Should Visit in Mexico City

Though the idea of a vacation in Mexico usually brings to mind images of margaritas on white-sand beaches, it seems the country is slowly but surely gaining recognition in other aspects as well. Among the most populated urban cities in Latin America and the world – not to mention The New York Times' number one "Place to Go in 2016" – Mexico City offers a particular cultural diversity evident both in its traditions and in its architecture. Considering it's the main tourist, educational, cultural, economic and political center of Mexico, it makes sense that it's the perfect scenario for the social encounters of its multicultural inhabitants and tourists.

The sites of architectural interest alone are worth the visit, with prehispanic, classic, modern and contemporary examples ranging from Juan O'Gorman and Luis Barragán to Felix Candela and David Chipperfield. Add to that the fact that its gastronomic scene has garnered much praise and attention in recent years, and you've got a perfect combo. Below is a carefully curated list of 30 sites that every architect should know and visit.