Urban textures

The work of Studio Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos, based in Lomas de Chapultepec, ranges from urban planning to architecture and interior design. The philosophy evolves case by case, in the conviction that “there is no one success formula, because every project adapts to the requirements of the client, to the context of operation and the available resources.”

SMA sets the goal of the “creation of a better city,” extending project values from architectural quality to improvement of environmental and social impact. A part of the city, a work of architecture and its interiors: everything can be seen as a factor to generate processes of renewal. Also the two recent works shown here, though different in type and scale, are part of this pursuit of architectural quality in relation to the urban landscape and its potential.

The AMÉRICAS 1500 tower, which contains a hotel and offices on 28 levels with a vertical shape broken down into four distinct blocks, though part of a single dynamic architectural synthesis, stands in the city of Guadalajara, near Americas Avenue (hence the name).

The first piece of a larger project that sets out to transform the entire urban zone, the tower has an overall area of more than 4000 square meters, making it a new landmark of reference.

Getting away from the traditional figure of the monolithic skyscraper, Sordo Madaleno ‘breaks up’ the trunk of the constructed organism, in compositional terms, into four sectors, making a stack of volumes set apart by subtle rotations and shifts, making the entire structure dynamic, seemingly held in precarious balance.

The obvious reference for this procedure is the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York by Kazuyo Sejima, in 2007, another controlled stack of white blocks. But in this case, also due to the larger scale and the treatment of the facade, the AMÉRICAS 1500 tower stands out more in the urban landscape for its iconic force. The four stacked and shifted volumes are joined by a facade pattern that underscores the dynamic arrangement of the whole.

A series of specially designed aluminium slats screen sunlight to improve energy performance (the building has LEED certification), and are placed diagonally, perpendicular to the curtain wall, changing direction from block to block to emphasize the autonomous character of the four sectors.

The first volume rising from the ground floor plaza contains the hotel, which in the space obtained by the shifting of the second volume, used for offices, inserts an infinity pool from which to observe the city. The diagonal aluminium blades wrap the various blocks like a continuous second skin, also thanks to the design of a particular corner joint that makes it possible to ‘turn’ the metal piece by 90 degrees, adhering to all the exposed sides of the same volume. This linear texture makes it possible to create protective shadows on the glass fronts, while adding a sense of visual unity that varies its direction from block to block.

The three-story building for the flagship store of Massimo Dutti, on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, one of the most prestigious streets in Mexico City, also stands out for its refined ‘metal architectural skin,’ which in this case establishes a relationship with the wrought iron railings of the historic buildings in the Polanco district.

The contemporary reworking of certain traditional patterns thus becomes a new texture that repeats an orthogonal-diagonal cross motif as an expressive facing for the new store. The building is a compact, regular volume, a sort of monolith recessed at the windows on ground level and at the few lateral openings on the upper levels, joined by one larger full-height opening on the main facade, offering a view of the interiors from the street.

The vertical access to the display spaces, by way of a two-story lobby, is accompanied by a materic-chromatic palette in natural tones (wood with supports in steel and stone). At the top, the terrace is organized as a complementary space for relaxing and observing the skyline of Polanco, as well as special events and shows organized by the store.

Projects Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos
Photos Rafael Gamo and Jaime Navarro / courtesy of Sordo Madaleno Arquitectos – Article Matteo Vercelloni