Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Filadelfia Corporate Suites in Mexico City by Bunker Arquitectura
January 29th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Bunker Arquitectura
What happens when the concept of a project is reduced to a facade in the process of its development? Are purely aesthetic aims valid in architecture? Is façadism something worthwhile? Are we to become architectural dermatologists?
A client contacted us to design a hotel for corporate suites in Napoles, a residential neighborhood in Mexico City that has been rapidly converting to office use over the past few years. The plot was located across the street from the convention center of the World Trade Center, by far the busiest office building in the city. The suites were intended to accommodate businesspeople visiting the WTC and the year round expositions.
One of the biggest complaints of caffeine-charged traveling businesspeople is that no matter how hard they try to avoid it, their daily lives eventually turn into a boring and tedious routine: wake up at 5:30 am, take a cab to the airport, a Starbucks coffee while waiting at the gate, a tasteless omelet in the plane, a cab to the same forgettable hotel, meeting at 9am, business lunch, afternoon meetings, drinks, back to the hotel, sleep, wake up at 5:30am, catch the flight back… and so on. Their lives seem filled with sameness.
This motivated us to create a hotel where every recurring visit would be a completely different experience in an attempt to break their drudging routine. Every suite would have a different floor plan and spatial arrangement. The different shapes were then assembled like a giant Tetris to form a vertical tower. The tower culminates with the last shape left in a cantilever to generate suspense… The assembled shapes were then raised to provide an entrance to the building. To further accentuate the specific character of the suites, each shape was conceived of a different material: wood, metal, volcanic stone, marble, ceramic, limestone, glass…
When the construction of the building had begun, the client suddenly changed his mind and decided that from an operational point of view it was too complicated to have 15 different suites. He wanted only two types of suites, the single and the double height. We were shocked.
He encouraged us by letting us know his decision was bitter-sweet. The bitter part was losing the original concept and the sweet part was that we could maintain the façade because he really liked it.
We had to find a way to adapt the floor plans and reorganize the interiors without sacrificing the façade. In the end, the client got his hotel and we kept our façade.
Bunker Arquitectura is a Mexico City-based architecture, urbanism and research office founded by Esteban Suarez in 2005 and partnered by his brother Sebastian Suarez. In their short career they have been able to experience and experiment architecture in the broadest scale possible: from small iconic chapels for private clients to a master plan for an entire city. Bunker has continuously attracted attention for its unconventional approach to architecture with projects such as a three-kilometer habitable bridge that unites the bay of Acapulco and an inverted skyscraper 300 meters deep in the main square of the historic center of Mexico City.
Every new project starts with a profound research of the social, political, economical, cultural and environmental factors that surround each particular site. The analysis and understanding of all this information, crossbred with Bunker´s indefatigable pursuit of innovation, yields architecture that is specific to its conditions. In this sense, no two projects ever look or feel alike. What ties them together is an evident need to constantly push the boundaries of architecture.
Besides developing projects for private clients, the government or competitions, Bunker is continuously involved in self-financed research projects that nurture the theoretical side of their practice. In this manner, the built and unbuilt projects bear the same weight in their balance. Theory and practice coexist in perfect symbiosis.
“STOP: KEEP MOVING: an oxymoronic approach to architecture” is Bunker´s first monograph. Their belief that a contradictory view of life, the human condition and architecture is central to finding architectural meaning has led them to rely on the oxymoron, opposite words or ideas that when put together reveal a new meaning, to disclose their creative processes and ingenious solutions to eccentric demands. In an attempt to salvage the broken link between architecture and the public, this book portrays their projects through the stories of how their built works, competition proposals and projects come to life and develop, not as the usual picture-perfect coffee-table book but as a collection of failures, successes, anecdotes, and experiments. In their tireless search for questions they have come to realize that antagonistic manifestos complement each other and can coherently coexist in a congruent and inclusive statement: an architecture that stops and keeps moving at the same time.
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