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Through an ongoing partnership with our client, we are applying different approaches to digital design, digital fabrication, and construction to several new low-rise projects in Mexico City. Apertures, the third such project, is the culmination of lessons learned from the previous two which featured unconventional designs that required high precision fabrication and installation. This time, we began our design investigation with the masonry block, a material that is common to the region and that local laborers have been handling for generations. By identifying the most common building methodology, we are able to develop the familiar into something new; our design of a custom masonry block and its structural stacking assembly allows the screen of Apertures to take a dynamic and fluid form, defying the apparent weight of its six-story mass.

The shapeliness of the building footprint and the block screen is derived from several influences. Located in a primarily residential neighborhood, we responded to the lower density and height by visually connecting key access points to the immediate adjacencies, and carefully sculpting view corridors. The screen unifies the resulting volume, protecting outdoor spaces from the elements while remaining porous.

To achieve the dramatic form and address seismic issues, we developed a non-standard geometry for a CMU that could be stacked to achieve views through while being sufficiently reinforced to counter-act lateral forces. The block features a large angled cavity that allows the assemblage to modulate while the rebar remains continuous. Once stacked, the resulting structure curves on multiple planes, adapting to desired views and daylighting needs while protecting balconies, and achieving the desired porosity. As a variation of a typical local material, the new block geometry used in Apertures achieves a familiarity despite its unconventional application.

Status: On the Boards
Project Type: Low Rise Commercial Office
Building Type: New Construction
Size: 5,115 sqm
Location: Mexico City, Mexico

Partner-in-Charge: Hagy Belzberg
Project Team: Brock DeSmit, Jessica Hong, Joseph Ramiro, David Cheung, Kristofer Leese, Adrian Cortez

Azure Magazine (Canada)
Interior Design Magazine (USA)

2017 AZ Awards People’s Choice – Unbuilt Concepts