This is a project for a small family in a venerable SoHo building. The need for a series of small private rooms combined with the constraints imposed by the existing building led us to propose a double-loaded corridor as the basic plan diagram. This solution makes the most of available daylight, and proves effective in allowing for the most spacious of public and family gathering areas to the east.
The introduction of curves in the plan arrangement of the walls seems at first willful, but it must also be admitted that the programmatic needs of the spaces either side of the corridor pushed and pulled at their respective lines of enclosure, vying for their share of the space available. In this way a straightforward plan diagram is not just enlivened with curves and colors, but also worked into something elegant and efficient for the accommodation of the needs of the family, and an attenuated approach to the main open areas of the loft is infused with mystery and meaning.
The Casa TEC 205 is located very close to the Chipinque ecological park, an urban landscape dominated by the Sierra Madre, omnipresent backdrop to the city of Monterrey. This house is the first prize in a raffle organized every year by the Technological University of Monterrey to raise funds for its students.
The house design follows a number of complementary motives. The first, it could be said, was to preserve four large extant trees on the site, three walnuts and a trueno. In a context where house developments often raze all remnants of a prior life on a site, we decided to not just preserve these trees, but to make them part of the project. Since the house occupies approximately half of the site, and because the trees are distributed across its slope, the house necessarily surrounds and frames them. Now embedded in the house, the trees definitively characterize the spaces they inhabit.
The second motive was to open up the public spaces to the sky and the views, and to maximize the area of green space in those parts of the site not occupied by the building’s footprint. Because the land slopes steeply down from the entry level we were able to invert the conventional arrangement, placing the bedroom floor below the entry floor instead of above. This has various advantages. The bedrooms take advantage of the earth’s thermal mass, bringing natural freshness to the house and lowering cooling loads during the many months of high temperatures in Monterrey. This arrangement allows the more public floor to enjoy the better views that it’s higher position affords, and provides direct access to the garden for all the bedrooms.
A final consequence of this arrangement is that the outdoor public areas, the pool and grill and outdoor entertaining space, is shifted off the ground plane and onto the roof. The roof terrace is accessible directly from the street entry, from the more private breakfast terrace off the family room, and from inside the house by way of the main stair. It is conceived as a large exterior room, delimited by walls and windows that frame the fantastic views of the Monterrey mountains.
A third motive was that each major interior space of should enjoy a direct connection to its own corresponding outdoor space, be it a garden, a patio or a terrace. By this means, each room is associated with a different landscape, giving it a unique character and an individual light, be it reflected, direct or filtered. In order to gather the outdoor spaces into the project, a series of large wall planes intersect in the house’s center and project into the surrounding outdoor space, creating large surfaces that run continuously between the interior and the exterior spaces of the house. Rather than create an architecture of discreet closed volumes, this constructivist assembly allows the walls to be read as independent, plastic elements, their transgression of the building enclosure effectively blurring the distinction between inside and outside space. Having always admired the use of color in Mexico, from its vernacular architecture to that of the masters Luis Barragán and Ricardo Legorreta, we applied strong colors to these walls not only because we typically use color in our work, but as recognition and homage to this great heritage as well.
In the interior of the house, the color has been the protagonist again. The pigments applied to walls run inside and outside, emphasizing their autonomy and determining the character of each space. In some rooms, we have used vibrant wallpapers that create murals to provide color and design. In others we have placed Mexican tiles with geometric patterns and bright colors.
We have chosen furniture designed by leading international designers and prestigious brands with other more generic but equally beautiful pieces. For example, in the living room there are two sofas by Patricia Urquiola designed for Kettal and a Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra. The large pendant lamp was designed by Arik Levy for VIbia, while the TamTam floor lamp was designed by Fabien Dumas for Marset. Two of the seats, the Slow Chairs, were designed by the Bouroullec brothers for Vitra,
Some of the products included with the house were designed by Moneo Brock, including the colorful, geometric carpets and the “PlexiJazz” screen of translucent acrylic and colored vinyl, which receives visitors in the entrance hall and establishes the general character of the interior design. The large carpet derived from the herringbone pattern of wooden boards in a parquet floor is our design, as is the loveseat Sonia D, made for Ecus.
In its very conception, the project incorporates bioclimatic measures to minimize its ecological impact. In Monterrey, the largest climactic energy loads occur in the cooling season, when high temperatures mix with high humidity to make a very uncomfortable atmosphere. The heating season is essentially non-existent.
The several patios with their mature trees create a cool and pleasant microclimates, offering natural light and clean air to the interior rooms. Besides the dappled shade offered by the trees, the house interior is protected from excessive insolation by a combination of exterior shutters on the windows to the east, vertical screens located to the side of the windows to the west and horizontal eaves over them to the south. The sun is in this way allowed to enter directly only a few hours each day in the cooler months, and never in summer. In addition, the windows are placed so as to take advantage of the prevailing east-west winds, inducing natural cross-ventilation.
The location of the bedrooms on the lower level, against one-story tall retaining wall allows them to take advantage of the stable, cool temperature of the earth’s mass. The bedrooms are exposed to the garden facing northeast, the optimal orientation for these rooms.
The location of the pool on the rooftop takes advantage of the continuous processes of evaporation and nighttime to maintain a cool thermal mass in this location. The roof, in addition to having a thick layer of thermal insulation, is protected from excessive overheating by pergolas and sunshades.
To complete the passive design we have treated carefully the potential energy loss via thermal bridges, insisting on the continuity of an adequate layer of insulation and of course all windows incorporate thermal breaks and double glazing. Inside the house, we selected low-energy appliances and electric lighting systems based on LED technology.
Watch the video presentation here: Casa TEC 205.
Tecnológico de Monterrey
Belén Moneo, Jeff Brock
The project proposes the recovery of an essential public space for Sencelles, Plaza de la Villa , which is currently a place colonized by cars and where the protected architectural elements do not get the attention they deserve because they conflict with the priority vehicular use of the square. Consequently, it is an action on an area that offers a great opportunity to recover a space of universal accessibility. In short, it is a square for everyone that keeps alive what was the history of the town and allows the coexistence of all social groups.
The new design of the square unifies the pavement with the sidewalks, widening the square, erasing the existing boundaries and architectural barriers, which together with the proposed traffic detour will allow the creation of a more fluid public space with greater flexibility for its different uses: from rest and the weekly Saturday market to traditional festivities.
It will therefore become an enclosure in which, guided by the new pavement and a series of pergolas with benches protected by shade and vegetation, will act as outdoor living rooms, allowing the gathering of different groups and ages in each of the spaces generated by the pergolas.
A fundamental aspect of the proposal lies in the universal accessibility to the square. The slight slope, along with a series of strategically placed ramps and a parking lot for the disabled in an ideal place in the square, promote total accessibility for anyone seeking to enjoy this new public space returned to the municipality.
Although the final consolidation of the square as a continuous space is pursued through its pavements, the vegetation and the pergolas act as a filter, not only providing shade but also generating the possibility of carrying out different activities at the same time. The green spaces are reinforced to create, through the vegetation, color, textures and also freshness and microclimates.
The vegetation of the parterres next to the pergolas becomes one of the main elements in the proposal. Through a set of species, which include a small tree grove along with upholstery and climbing plants, a new visual and sensory space is generated in the center of the square. The main idea is that the vegetation can provide color as well as texture in the diversity of greenery, as well as in the flowering of the different species proposed. As it is a public space that aims to host events of different kinds, it has been considered at all times that the species are resistant and easy to maintain.
The existing trees will cover this new vegetation. The project proposes to maintain and protect the existing vegetation, which is considered part of the square's character. An item is allocated in the cost estimate provided for the protection of these large and important trees during the construction process.
Ayuntamiento de Sencelles
Sencelles, Mallorca, Spain
5009,8 ft ²
Belén Moneo, Jeff Brock
Federico Pérez, Francisco Blázquez
This sustainable proposal seeks to preserve and revitalize the ecosystem of the River Tajo, recuperating this natural area for the enjoyment of all citizens of Talavera pointing out the possibility this Tajo Natural Park, beginning in Talavera, can grow, adding territories and cities in such a way that, in a few years, we could follow the river from the Guadarrama mountain to its mouth in Lisbon.
The project is understood as a series of interventions, all consisting with this promising idea. The River’s protagonism in the Talavera de la Reina cityscape will be reasserted. It will be made accessible for the enjoyment of all citizens through a series of interventions and activities that bring the natural landscape of the river closer to the city. Finally, this park could become a tourist attraction for Talavera at a national level, as a supra-municipal infrastructure, with economic and social opportunities for the whole city.
The proposed solutions and objectives include sustainable measures to improve water quality, recover the habitats and species of this section of the Tajo River, improve the landscape and enable an increase in the use of the river and its banks in forms commensurate with the conservation of its biodiversity and its landscape. Opening the project to citizen participation should furthermore serve to achieve greater knowledge of the river’s history and evolution.
It is intended that the river be for "all" in the broadest sense; allowing the growth of the vegetation and the complex of habitats specific to the place, sheltering numerous autochthonous species of flora and fauna, improving and recovering the enormously attractive scenic landscapes of the river and its fertile plain, and allowing access by the citizens of and visitors to Talavera to the shores and islands for their use and enjoyment. In short, it is about achieving a Natural and Human River Landscape Park.
Confederación hidrográfica del Tajo y Ayuntamiento de Talavera de la Reina
Talavera de la Reina
MONEO BROCK, BLASCO ESPARZA, EIN
Irene Alberdi, Mathilde Noirot