This building speaks to us of intermediation. It is an element that seeks to place itself between
culture and nature, between openness and introspection, between imposition and dissolution.
This building speaks to us of seriousness and at the same time of playfulness, of solidity and
fragility, of the forcefulness of weight and the relief of lightness.
We see an orthogonal rigidity mixed with a cascade of spheres that provide not only color and
luster, but the reminder that poetry can be embodied in the commonplace.
The building stands on a small street in a residential neighborhood in Mexico City. Although it is
located in a residential area, the street is very close to a busy commercial thoroughfare. This
allows the building to be immersed in the peace and quiet of its street, and at the same time
confront the urban alienation that pervades the commercial zone.
The aim of the project was to form a functional block capable of inserting itself gently in its context
and dissolving or diluting the onslaught of information received from its urban setting.
The building is bounded by a single family home to the west and a convenience store to the east
and south. The architectural program includes underground parking for 24 cars, and
accommodates 13 apartments in two blocks, one located at the front of the lot (facing north) and
the other at the rear (facing south). The two blocks are connected at each level by an area
comprising a lobby, stairwells, and the elevator cluster. The rear block has five levels and the
front block has four, a condition that allows its rooftop to be used as a terrace for special events.
The interior spaces of the apartments were left as free as possible and left unfinished, to allow
each occupant to create interiors that suit their needs and likings.
The selection of materials was limited to three ingredients: one neutral, which provides the needed
connection with the urban environment (exposed concrete and gray stucco); one warm, which
gives the inhabitant a connection with nature (machiche wood); and one colorful, imbuing the project
with flavor and cheerfulness (blown glass and green epoxy flooring).
The façade is made up of 7,723 blown glass spheres made by craftsmen at a workshop in
Guadalajara, Jalisco. Each sphere is supported by a disk of EPDM (a kind of rubber used in the
automobile industry, with excellent resistance to weathering), which in turn is fastened to a
stainless steel cable by means of a conventional nut. Each cable carries a maximum of 27
spheres, which are fastened at the top to the concrete structure of the building and at the bottom
to structural steel elements.
This mass of spheres fulfills the purpose of creating certain introspection for the inhabitants while
at the same time softens the visual experience coming from the urban setting. Also, it has shown
excellent resistance to weathering; however, the main problem it has presented is its cleaning,
which is done by hand and is twice as time consuming as a conventional façade.
The idea of using this mass of spheres is taken from the experiences of walking through a market
in Mexico City and seeing how the fruit and vegetables are set out; from seeing a picture of
children playing with soap bubbles in a public square; from observing the Mexican culture
ceaseless effort to construct its reality through repetition; from the need to incorporate magic and
innocence in our everyday life, and mainly from remembering that beauty can be present in our
daily lives if we give her a chance.
•Design company: Hierve
•Project name: Hesiodo
•Place: Polanco district, Mexico City, Mexico.
•Built area: 2,511.00 m2
•Design phase: 2002-2003
•Construction phase: 2003-2005
•Cost: $790,000.00 US dlls.
•Co-Workers: Partner (Alejandro Villarreal) and Co-workers (Alfredo Acle, Armando Niño de
Rivera, Sugey Ramírez, and Cecilia Ramírez Corzo)
•Consultants: Structural Engineer (Pesa SA de CV), Mechanic Engineer (Codsa SA de CV),
Landscape Architecture (Kees Van Rooij), Lighting Consultant (Zelco de México SA de CV)
•Photography: Fernando Cordero