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Zoncuantla Apartments

Rafael Pardo Ramos

Coatepec, Mexico

November 2020


Rafael Pardo Ramos


Gonzalo Zaldo, Hugo Sánchez, Rafael Pardo Ramos


Rafael Pardo Ramos


Onnis Luque, Naser Nader Ibrahim, Alejandro X. García


The main objective of the project was to take advantage of the panoramic views of the site and that all the spaces take advantage of this feature from their location. The program consists of four apartments, each with its own floors, elevations and levels, seeking to move in playful ways between the communal and private areas of the project.
Another of the objectives was to propose new ways of living in multifamily housing based on a design that does not conform to a solely profitable real estate program; it is committed to spatial quality and to a design that offers a plastic richness.
Compositionally, the play of walls and bays corresponds to the modulation of the falsework in some of the facades, while in others, floor-to-ceiling windows open, illuminating the apartments with natural light, and achieving a certain half-light in the private areas. The four apartments have terraces that function as an extension of the communal areas.
Another objective to consider is the ecological impact of the project. With an 860-square-meter site, more than 60% of the green area was preserved, so that the impacted area is smaller than that of neighboring buildings. These green areas have been landscaped with native trees and plants for greater rainwater collection and water infiltration to the groundwater table.


Analyzing the features of the site with a gradient of more than 45 degrees, formed by a basically triangular polygonal and bordered by three streets that are in turn adjacent and allow several points of access, visualize a slender stake set in the center of the site, in the first instance to avoid the use of retaining walls and achieve facades with views towards the four cardinal points, as well as to provide ventilation and natural lighting at every angle.
Imagine the main facade located at the highest point of the site as a subtle volumetric composition that aims not to rival or obstruct the horizon, as two concrete boxes partially closed and minimal in contrast to the other facades that would be progressively more open and by their orientation much more prominent; generating a grid of windows overlooking the landscape, also with the possibility of incorporating terraces that open out onto the landscape providing spaces for contemplation. The base of this tower-stake would have to be on another perpendicularly juxtaposed mass, which would function as foundation and starting point of this vertical rectangular prism that would accommodate more living and circulation spaces.


It is a project that, due to its spatial quality and integration with the surroundings, has a positive impact, generating added value in the neighborhood.
Paradoxically, the building was completed at the beginning of the pandemic, and since it has ample green areas, terraces and good ventilation, there was great interest in living in it. In addition, the gradient of the site allowed independent accesses for each apartment, which offer privacy and independence within the complex.
This contemporary building seeks to harmonize with the surrounding mesophilic forest; the pigmentation of the concrete and its aggregates helps create a dialogue with the landscape, where there are ochre colors, adobe, mud and earth. Another factor that helped the integration with the environment was the choice of a reduced palette of materials, volcanic stone from the site, glass and concrete that provide outstanding aesthetic qualities.
The landscape design included the planting of endemic trees and plants that in a short period of time have developed a rich and exuberant micro-ecosystem as is typical of the region. With a minimal footprint, it fulfills the objective of generating less ecological impact and in this way addressing one of the emerging dilemmas facing contemporary architecture.

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