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La Luz 1126

León Staines Díaz Taller + Edith Architecture

Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

December 2022


León Staines-Díaz (co-author), Edith Cervantes-Hernández (co-author)


Vicente Sánchez-Hernández (structural engineer)


Herlinda Díaz-Nuñez


Francisco Alvarez-de la Vega


This building is an example of how a low-scale construction can be beneficial for the city while respecting the historical context. It represents a commitment to vertical housing that does not harm local dynamics and atmospheres, but also integrates organically and honestly with its time while adhering to the pre-existing structure.
The choice of materials mirrors the region's construction history. Exposed concrete, which has been used in Monterrey for over 100 years, is a crucial part of the structure. The brick, also local to the region, was used as a space separator to create a flexible "skin" with thermal properties. The decision to leave exposed materials demonstrates honesty with the construction methods, providing the building with a sense of warmth and relatable spaces.
Additionally, the design inherits passive sustainable criteria from vernacular Northeastern Mexican architecture, including high ceilings, interior courtyards, and proper orientation, that enhances air circulation inside the building creating comfortable spaces with low use of air conditioning. The interior design is versatile allowing future adaptation of different uses favoring spatial flexibility.
The concrete structure recalls the basic principles of modernism while seamlessly integrating with the 1939 construction, which serves as a point of contact with the public. The first room and its facade bear witness to the austere yet enduring society that preceded us and will now generate a vibrant relationship with new generations. The project is a juxtaposition of eras and materials, simultaneously serving as a testament to how the present can coexist respectfully with the past.


In 1985, 115,000 people lived in Monterrey’s downtown. Today, there are less than 23,000 residents. In response, there has been an abundance of decontextualized densification projects from scale and dynamics of the area. Our project contributes to the conversation by introducing a suited densification specific to the neighborhood’s capacities.
La Luz 1126 is an experimental housing project in the historic center of Monterrey. It seeks to address the challenges of housing in consolidated and historic areas of the city, moving away from mere profit while balancing commercial aspects and qualities a traditional neighborhood. The project consists of five residences and a commercial ground floor that serves as "eyes on the street."
This project reflects its role in the geographical context. The active ground floor aims to become a gathering point in the neighborhood. The internal program is distributed through concrete platforms containing the housing units that rise in half-levels, culminating in two terraces that offer panoramic views of Monterrey and its mountains.
The setback of the building reaffirms respect for the scale and historical context of the constructions from the first half of the 20th century that surround it. The decision to expose the nobility of materials such as brick plays a leading and multifaceted function. In some areas, brick serves as a surface, while in others, it shapes internal spaces, creating a contrast with structural elements. On the terrace, it is placed laterally to create a lattice that allows continuing views of the city.


The project has two goals. Firstly, in a context of inappropriate real estate investments in a historical setting, we aimed to create a concept at a 1:1 scale that demonstrates a project on a human scale suitable for a historic neighborhood. The building organically adheres to the built environment without abruptly disrupting the landscape. Secondly, the building reveals both the pre-existing construction stages and the current ones. The chosen materials represent the time and space in which the building has developed.
Integration with the landscape has been carefully considered through the selection of materials and finishes that harmonize with the surroundings while marking the time it was built. Additionally, by creating a setback of 3 meters between the original facade and the new project, its impact on the pedestrian scale of the area is softened. In terms of the character and identity of the work, efforts have been made to give the project a distinctive and attractive image for the community without sacrificing its functionality and efficiency.
Architects, educators and architecture students, developers, neighbors, and friends regularly attend this vibrant building. Common spaces of flexible use allow the integration of workspaces, residences, tours, final reviews from architecture students, or sunset drinks with a view of the Monterrey mountains. This building is catalyzing discussions among people interested in the future densification of downtown Monterrey. La Luz 1126 is effectively becoming the epicenter of a powerful conversation about the direction of our city with a focus on resilience, well-being, and neighborhood coexistence.

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