The Jury's appraisal
A keen transformation of a historic building complex in the centre of Mexico City into a three-dimensional landscape of urban living. While the body of the building was respectfully refurbished and extended by an almost similar construction, the vertical additions consist of a light construction with a loft-like appearance on the street side. They allow for double-height rooms with open stairs, leading to the terraces at the top.
The building is located in Colonia Roma, a district with historic value in the central sector of Mexico City. La Roma was developed in the 19th century as one of the first extensions of the central city, configured into an orthogonal grid occupied by large mansions that at the time housed the capital’s upper classes. The district fell into deep neglect, with a great deal of insecurity and many abandoned buildings, until making a strong comeback recently as one of the city’s most active areas, filing up with art galleries, small restaurants, cafés and young people once again occupying its streets and public spaces.
The project is being built thanks to the “Urban Recycling” initiative. The stakes are high: to construct a building on a listed house of historic value, without a garage –in a city where the car is king—and with a retail unit on the ground floor, a condition typically associated in Mexico to a forced reality for the lower classes and not as an indispensable element for building urban quality.
The project maintains almost the entirety of the existing construction beyond the dictates established by the local preservation bodies, which prescribe that only the façade of the protected building should be conserved. The existing construction occupies the vast majority of the plot but has in the back part the ruin of an old service zone, independent of the house. The project is underpinned by the itemised analysis of each one of the elements in order to generate a reality that is totally different from the existing one, in keeping with the area’s new economic and social reality but in harmony with the original construction.
The material aspect is important for the project. The original house is built from brick, also employed in the addition to the construction’s back part. The original is rough, living material with a strong identity and history: the new walls differ from the old in small details, from being industrially made to the way in which they are perforated. Small subtleties that allow us to identify the difference but which in their likeness build the same identity. The upper-floor volumes define their own identity, both through the material itself and through the colour (black, and not white, to help lighten the weight of the addition). The materials work at the service of generating unique, highly personal spaces devised for standard families and their needs.