In collaboration with Michan Architecture
Size: 1560 sqm
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Structure: Fair-faced reinforced concrete
Type: Commission, Apartment Building
Team: Sina Özbudun, Isidoro Michan
Status: Under Construction-Completion: Winter 2018/19
This project is for a mid-market residential building in Mexico City, consisting of nine 1-2 bedroom apartments with parking in the basement. It was decided early on that the construction system would be cast-place-concrete, that the unit types would be simple and straight forward, and that the building would maximize its site footprint and allowed height. These were constraints that satisfied the client’s desires and simultaneously allowed us to focus our efforts on an interesting opportunity in the project, the apertures.
The site strategy drove the two side elevations toward the lot lines, making more standard windows undesirable. In order to allow light, view, and ventilation to all sides of the building, a scheme was developed to manipulate the windows into something familiar yet subtly strange. The rectangular windows are rotated into the building’s facade, resulting in two ruled surfaces at the top and bottom and transforming the window into an inverted trapezoidal bay. As the windows rotate in, the slabs appear to pull at the head and sill. This results in a facade that is both extremely blunt in its flatness and is also a dynamic bas-relief of smooth undulating shadows. These windows also produced different interior moments as the shifting facade met the standardized unit layout. Views out from the interior became small events of forced oblique perspective as one looked both out and down the street at the same time making each unit unique as it approached the enclosure.
The design process for the apertures was guided by both iterative digital models and research into the history of cast concrete ruled surfaces in the architecture of Latin America. A number of full-scale mock-ups allowed us to find a tectonic articulation that used board formed concrete as an integral expression of the aperture concept. The final methodology used traditional construction techniques combined with re-usable fiberglass casting modules to produce an alternative expression between digital technology and traditions of construction.
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