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DL 1310 Apartments

Young & Ayata with Michan Architecture

Mexico City, Mexico

August 2020


Michael Young, Kutan Ayata, Isaac Michan


Isaac Michan


M2 Grupo Inmobiliario


Rafael Gamo


For this building type, the cast in-place concrete structure is typically clad with tiles, stucco, or paint. In the case of DL1310 the thin board formwork is exposed, expressed as vertical strips on the walls and horizontal strips along as slabs. As the windows ro¬tate into the building’s facade, ruled surfaces result at the head and sill, the horizontal strips of the floor slab edge thickening and thinning along the elevation. At times, the building’s enclosure appears extremely thick, at others, razor thin along a knife’s edge. These appearances also change at different times of day as the dark reflectivity of the glazing gives way to a more crystalline transparency at night. The result is a facade that is both blunt in its flatness, yet also dynamic as a bas-relief play of undulating shadows. This effect was developed through both iterative digital models and research into the history of cast concrete ruled surfaces in the architecture of Latin America. Several full-scale mock-ups allowed us to find a tectonic articulation of board formed concrete as an integral expression of the aperture concept. The final methodology used traditional concrete construction techniques combined with re-usable fiberglass casting modules to produce an expression of both the casting as material process, and the visual perception of the movement of lines inscribed as surface articulation.


It was decided early on that the construction system would be the one most common to the region for this building type: load bearing cast-in-place concrete. It was evident that both the budget and market required simple, straightforward plan layouts. A variance in the code allowed an extra floor if the building was set back from the lot lines on both sides, a decision which opened possibilities for windows on all four sides. With the constraints of construction, planning, and massing set, design attention shifted to these windows. Given that these openings could not encroach the set-back limits, the windows push and pull into the building as opposed to protruding. Rotating the windows toward the interior allowed view, light, and air to reach all living spaces regardless of future building construction on adjacent sites. Affording oblique views along the building’s exterior, both up and down the street as well as out towards the city in the distance, the exterior of the building developed an alternating expression of solidity and carved voids.


The rotation of the windows also produces significant transformations of the building’s interior as they offer views, light, and ventilation to all sides of the building. Views out from the interior as oblique perspectives make each room unique. In the main living spaces, there are two large windows which split and divert the viewer’s eyes into two different directions creating an uncanny feeling of looking both out through the building and obliquely across the façade simultaneously. This experience is very differ¬ent than expected from the exterior appearance; a tension between the interior volume and exterior mass that relates to the concept of poché. How a building creates at one level a separation of interior from exterior, and then, reconnects the two through apertures is a fundamental architectural question. Poché typically describes that which hides between, rendered in a drawing to clarify space from mass, but as an experience in the built world, poché can become active and animate when a material assembly intensifies and questions the relations between interior and exterior. This quality is further manifested in the thermal performance, as the mass stabilizes the internal temperature and the variable locations of operable windows aid cross-ventilation.

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