Santa María la Ribera, Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico | View Map
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Luis Gallardo / LGM Studio


BAAQ’ as Architects

Located in a quiet street to the west of Colonia Santa María la Rivera, this building is the starting point for an intervention that has its roots in an understanding of population dynamics, urban settlements and especially the actual Mexico City. With a population of about 10,000,000 inhabitants, which means a population density of approximately 6,000 inhabitants per square kilometer and a real estate park that exceeds 2,500,000 homes, Mexico City is one of the most populated cities.


In numbers of amount of real estate built, and the effect that this has on tons of Co2, we can, from our profession, take charge not only of the control of construction materials, from the carbon footprint we issue, but from the moment we look at the pre-existence, we realize, beyond the heritage value, that there is a value in the reuse and above all in the use of viable structures. A very important point before starting the intervention is to know both the history of the building, as well as the evaluation of pathologies and based on this make a viable intervention proposal. This viability is considered from a global perspective, in which the parties are feasible both economically, constructively, and contributing with the product an improvement not only to the individual but to the community in which it develops and which without it wouldn’t exist.


With these premises, the approach to the project occurred naturally, talking with neighbors, knowing the object and the environment in which it is located. A construction of the twenties that originally housed public baths during the 30s, then in the 50s became a sanatorium, and before the abandonment in which the property was found, it was the headquarters of a security company.


In a building without patrimonial value, not protected by any of the institutions such as INAH or INBA, this original Art Deco building with a hierarchical distribution by a central patio, has an added value due to the versatility that has allowed its adaptation to different historical periods, of a surplus value in its construction.


In order of action, first all the elements added to the original building were removed, to reach the conclusion that the main design premise would be to respect the original structure of the building, in its circulation and operation, supporting the project with plans of different materiality to obtain 12 departments.


Having a defined structural base and some original elements to be conserved, we chose to return to the base concept of the patio and its perimeter circulation, to integrate it into a new model in which this corridor becomes part of the home. In this typology of buildings, this circulation is a public place and the challenge on making it private leads to define an enclosure that plays with the visuals to integrate them into a new interior facade that gives character to the intervention and again position it as the center of the project. 


With the use of mirrored glass, the optimal functioning of this resource is made possible, it preserves the privacy of the user while at the same time reflections are camouflaged using the reflections of the pre-existing parts.


With the patio element as the nucleus of the project, the houses are arranged around them, orienting their views to it, which is considered as a place of introspection, not so much in passing. Concrete prisms of different heights, that act as flower boxes, dampen the sound of the water from the recovered fountain and support the discourse of circulations, interposing themselves in the visuals, again, to guide and give privacy to the user.


Each of the houses therefore has ventilation, and natural lighting. The first and second floors with a greater free height, typical of the original construction moment, allow a greater volume of use of the spaces. With a height of 3.60 meters between slabs in addition to giving a greater breadth to the spaces, with the use of light structures owners can get to use this third dimension.


The third level, from the 50s as well as the new structures implemented on deck, maintain a standard height more like that required by current regulations; which does not diminish their interest, since in the same way, they pour into the patio and drink the same character of openness and centrality.


A solid prism, perforated with concrete, protrudes from the façade of the patio with which it contrasts without stealing its protagonysm. With a materiality and density different from the rest of the project, this intervention is presented and allows independent access to the last department. This volume from the outside patches the view and generates a play of light, in darkness towards the last apartment, the terraces, the enjoyment of them and the views they offer.


All the points touched so far are based on the use, from the social, environmental and constructive point of view, and finally we rely on the economic factor. In a society in which, as we have already mentioned, there is a programmed obsolescence, which grants a short life of use of objects; From the economic point of view, we emphasize our basic discourse on the use of an existing property, because this fact also makes sales operations more effective, consolidating them based on an already built property. This fact allows the operation to be done in a safer way for the end user as well as for the architect. 


As an example of the philosophy with which we want to be part of this historical moment of the city as architects and habitants of it, we give an analogy as an example. When a person arrives in a forest, surrounded by vegetation, their first resource with which to supply their need for refuge is to resort to the elements that nature provides, in this case, vegetation and trees. In this case, these symbolic and representative values of architecture can be extrapolated to the city, as a naturalized environment in which much of the activity is carried out in our days.


So, facing an overloaded and pre-existing urban layout, it is our responsibility to address these needs of the city, from a perspective of using existing resources, adapting them and adapting them to the current needs of habitability and comfort, related to a particular user.

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