In Monterrey, Mexico, Zaha Hadid architects have come up with a unique community-orientated design. The original architectural brief was to build 12 residential towers, however, the architects proposed a low-rise, high density building of 981 apartments arranged around three sides of a rectangular site, with each side of the building shaped in response to its environmental orientation, creating a sequence of interconnected internal and external courtyards, gardens and public spaces for residents. Set in the Huajuco Canyon to the southeast of the city, between a busy eight lane motorway and low-density suburban developments, with mountains in the distance mean the project has had to adapt on many different levels.
Monterrey is the third largest city in Mexico, and the Esfera City Centre residential project provides essential new homes for the rapidly growing population. A community- orientated approach was key to the design. By incorporating principles of Crime prevention Through Environmental design (CPTED), which include welcoming, interconnecting public spaces, popular with neighbours and passers-by, the design offers increased levels of community safety while also contributing to the urban integration and composition of the project. With the inclusion of these public spaces at the perimeter of the building, the project engages with its context within the growing commercial centre.
The vast public areas cover 30,000 sq m and offer amenities for all ages, including a clubhouse with café, gym and reading room, chapel, children’s playground, mountain bike and skate park, quiet garden areas for relaxing and walking, dog walking areas, picnic zone, and amphitheatre for outdoor concerts and film screenings. The park is connected to the buildings via bridges, extending the common areas of the apartments where the swimming pools, BBQ areas and other amenities for residents are located.
Outside, the building references traditional Mexican architecture, with interlocking lattice geometries to provide shading and separate the outdoor space of each individual residence. Depending on each residence’s orientation, internal programme and spatial requirements, each balcony’s form has been developed to provide solar protection, privacy and generous exterior space, defining a varied and coherent architectural language that unifies the project.
The design is also highly sustainable with the building’s mass allocation and layout responding to the ideal solar orientation for the apartments and aims to channel the site’s wind patterns, allowing residents to enjoy the outdoor spaces and natural ventilation offered by the fresher micro-climate of the Huajaco Canyon. The materials used in the external areas have been carefully chosen for their permeability, high reflectivity and low thermal mass to reduce radiant temperature and drain rain water into the soil.
Watch the animation of the Esfera City Centre below.