On a commercial street lined with high-end retail stores and office buildings, BGP arquitectura was commissioned to convert a five-story 1950â€™s apartment building into a mixed-use project composed of thirty-six rooms with boutiques and a hotel.
In order to convert the existing structure to suit the current requirements of the hotel, a series of very precise and careful interventions were required. The old structure gains an entirely new identity with a new wrapper consisting of a frosted glass box of rectangular glass panels floating several feet from the original facade. Sandwiched between the new and old facades are the original balconies and newly implemented corridors.
An interstitial space was inserted between the two skins, which works as a thermal as well as an acoustic â€śbufferâ€ť, regulating the heat gain/loss and shielding the private spaces of the hotel from the noise generated by the hectic urban activities of the surrounding streets.
From a distance, the clean new facade appears to be an expressionless mask, but this impression gets undone at a closer range as the shadows of walkways and balconies and their inhabitants become visible. Small, randomly distributed unfrosted lines and rectangles are the new facadeâ€™s only adornment. These strategically stingy transparent slots give each room a controlled views to the city beyond, framing the desirable and screening out the unsightly. At night, the entire building appears as a lantern with a changing checkerboard pattern of illumination, varying with the occupancy of the rooms.
The new services and amenitiesâ€”such as a swimming pool, gym, sauna, bar, and restaurantâ€”were added to the roof on two superimposed planes â€“platforms- which seem to be floating above the existing structure.
The rooms themselves, looking outward onto two planes of floor-to-ceiling glass (the inner transparent, the outer translucent), are imbued with natural light all day while maintaining complete privacy. The decor of the rooms mirrors the austerity of the outer enclosure: only a bed and a cantilevered plane of glass that serves both as a desk and a table occupies the space, with everything else) concealed behind a polished paneled wall. This minimalist aesthetic enlarges the experience of the otherwise compact rooms.
The ground floor is occupied by a continuous space that opens into the street that serves both as lobby and restaurant for the guests.
Location: Lamartine 201, Colonia Polanco, Ciudad de MĂ©xico
Architects: Bernardo GĂłmez-Pimienta and E. Norten
Project team: AarĂłn HernĂˇndez, Sergio NuĂ±ez, Francisco Pardo, Julio Amezcua, Hugo SĂˇnchez, Claudia Marquina, Carlos LĂłpez, Martine Paquin, Adriana DĂaz, RubĂ©n Garnica, Miguel RĂos.
Art: Jan Hendrix
Graphic design: Ricardo Salas
Structure: Colinas de Buen
Instalations: Houbard & Bourlon
Glazing: Val y Val
Design year: 1996-1998
Construction year: 1998-2000
Client: Carlos Couturier, Moises Micha
Area: 2,500 m2
Business Week/ Architectural Record,
XIII Bienal de Arq. de Quito, Ecuador: Mention,
VII Bienal de Arquitectura Mexicana: Silver Medal,
World Arch. Awards /RIBA, London: UK Latin American Building of the Yearâ€ť Winner.
ar + d 2001 Award (Hotel Habita), London, UK: Winner.
DuPont Benedictus Awards: Recognition Award
Photographs are courtesy of Luis Gordoa, Undine PrĂ¶hl, Jean Luc Laloux.
Text by BGP arquitectura