Aguascalientes, a city often regarded as the cleanest in Latin America with a high quality of life, is located in the Bajio urban belt. The city’s grand cultural tradition has turned it to one of the biggest tourist destinations of the Mexican hinterlands. Our client asked that the project cleared the site of its present condition, high-voltage towers that belonged to CFE, which we achieved by strategically placing medium-voltage towers in such a way to clear up a large part of the site.
The proposal tackled the complex issues of local, urban, and regional planning, because it presented an unrepeatable opportunity to introduce a project with a high level of urban planning to Aguascalientes that would provide it with desperately needed infrastructure. The area of the plan is 15% the size of the entire city of Aguascalientes. The city is currently developed along the western edge which has a more defined identity. The project tackles the eastern edge to mediate between the two zones in the process of creating a cohesive identity. Entrances in the eastern section of the masterplan took advantage of the less developed conditions. This way each edge will have a unique identity mediated and united by the periphery of the plan.
Two blocks have been chosen as a pilot projects: North Block and South Block; This last one is being developed with the collaboration of INFONAVIT and 6 local & international architectural offices. The heterogeneity in the work method enriches the proposal with new ideas and strategies that will serve as a reference for the future development of the area in the coming years.
After the workshop carried out with all the offices that participate in the prototype of the South Block (Dellekamp Architects, Dogma, HHF Architekten, MAIO Architects, MOS Architects and Tatiana Bilbao Estudio) a series of common criteria for the design of the block were established. The general plan is organized as a checkerboard, a grid of full (buildings) and empty (squares) of similar proportions. In terms of public space, the design seeks to interconnect spaces within the block that favor the relationship between neighbors and where different activities can be carried out. In addition, the adjacent linear park is directly connected to the public space of the interior of the block through the main street that connects the east and west districts. This central axis crosses the block creating a corridor in the heart of the complex that is activated by incorporating retail and community services at ground level.
Buildings 4 & 13 – Tatiana Bilbao Estudio
The proposal of Tatiana Bilbao Estudio presents an equivalent housing model for the three typologies of housing required by INFONAVIT (social, popular and market rate housing). The apartments are divided into five areas: access, service center, kitchen, day area and night area.
The central core that contains the apartment entrances and services moves from one side to the other, configuring the different typologies and creating arrange of typologies based on the size of the day-time areas. In response to the high occupancy expected in these homes, all apartments are equipped with two bedrooms and the apartments classified as market rate housing have the possibility of incorporating a third bedroom of equal dimensions without sacrificing the space allocated to the day areas.
Landings on the staircase mark the entrances to two apartments per floor. It functions as a meeting place to foster relationships among the neighbors. It also allows to light and ventilate in a natural way all the service areas of each home.
Each one of the two modules that make up each building has an independent staircase that facilitates access to different levels and resolves differences in level existing on site. The spiral-shaped metal stair slides along the facade, creating a rhythm followed by the openings. This results in a twisting effect enveloping the whole building.
Following the same logic as the stacked apartments and the torsion effect caused by movement in the facade of the staircase, the openings are placed to reinforce the rhythm of the facade and the direction of the stair. To reinforce this gradient in the openings, small terraces are located at the corners progressing the amount of open area as the building gains height.
Security concerns on the Ground Floor and the issue of sun protection in the rest of the levels are solved with the use of an expanded metal mesh that adapts in height and density to each opening, being denser in the first two floors and more open on the last two.
For the point of view of construction, a limited material palette has been selected for this project: concrete block is used both in exterior and interior walls, lightened concrete for the slabs, painted metallic window frames for the openings, and painted metalwork on the staircase and parapets. Whilst in the interiors, pine is used for the timber doors and furniture.