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ARQ (Santiago)

versión On-line ISSN 0717-6996

ARQ (Santiago)  no.91 Santiago dic. 2015 




Rozana Montiel *(1), Alin Wallach*(2)

* Architect, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City, Mexico.
** Architect, Universidad Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico.


A fragmented and semi-abandoned space between residential units is transformed into a common area through this project. The verticality of fences and partitions is replaced by the horizontality of architectural elements able to integrate the community into a common –and also horizontal– process of design, using a strategy that could well be replicated in all those spaces left by the modern utopia and fragmented by the postmodern pragmatism.

Keywords: horizontal, collective, co-ownership, community, participation.


Public space after the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Public space after the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Building Common-Unity is a project for rehabilitating the public space in the San Pablo Xalpa housing unit in Azcapotzalco. The unit was divided by walls, fences, and barriers placed by the residents themselves and impeded the use of the available public space. The goal was to transform a partitioned housing complex into a common-unity designed by the neighbors and not just for them.

The project strategy was to work with the barriers created by the inhabitants: permeate them, democratize them, and redefine them to generate unity within the unit.

Previously, the residents of different sectors implemented temporary coverings in the public area for events and meetings, thus achieving an extension of the private areas. Working with them, we reutilized the idea of covering certain spaces to create recreational and cohabitation spaces. Roofed modules were installed that are more than just a covering, because their facades are equipped for different activities (blackboards, climbing walls, railings, and nets). Also, a multipurpose room was built that the children use as a library.

Thus, the recovered public space became an extension of each apartment. The strategy was effective: the people united to contribute in the redesign of their unit, and such a change was achieved in the perception of the public space that the neighbors themselves requested the removal of the fences. The space spoke for itself, and the inhabitants of the unit made the decision to eliminate the barriers and take advantage of the exterior spaces, filling them with public and common life.

Plan of the complex. Published scale 1: 5.000
Legend: 1. Courtyard after the intervention; 2. Space in-between buildings; 3. Multipurpose meeting room.

Public space before the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Perspective section. N. S.

Facade boards. N. S.

Scheme with the intervention of the courtyards. N. S.

Plan of the intervened areas. Published scale 1: 1.000

Public space after the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Public space after the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Public space after the intervention
© Sandra Pereznieto

Multipurpose meeting room
© Sandra Pereznieto

Architects: Rozana Montiel, Estudio de Arquitectura / Associated architects: Alin V. Wallach / Collaborators: Cecilia Brañas, Diana León, Valery Michalon, Luis Galán, Alejandro Aparicio / Location: Unidad Habitacional San Pablo Xalpa, Sectores E y F. Eje 5 Norte Deportivo Reynosa, Distrito Azcapotzalco, Ciudad de México, México / Client: INFONAVIT - Instituto del Fondo Nacional de la Vivienda para los Trabajadores / Structural engineering: Sergio López Guevara / Building contractor: DRAGADOS / Electrical system: Ubaldo Velázquez / Filtered water system: ROTOPLAS / Courtyard materials: Metal structure for the roof; pavements made of concrete paver, black gravel, grass, translucent film coverage with pine wood soffit, climbing wall made of multicolored recycled plastic, ropes / Multipurpose room materials: Partition walls, floors of polished cement / Cost: USD$180 / m² / Built area: 5.000 m² / Site area: 16.000 m² (first two stages) / Project year: 2014 / Construction year: 2014 - 2015

1. Rozana Montiel | Architect and Urban Planner, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico (1998). Master in Theory and Criticism of Architecture, Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Barcelona (2000). She is the founder of Rozana Montiel | Architecture Studio, specializing in design, art and urbanism. Thanks to the project COMON-UNIT she was part of the exhibition “Regional Houses: 32 architectural proposals” at the Museo de la Ciudad de México in 2015.

2. Alin Wallach | Architect, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México –UNAM– (2003). Between 2007 and 2015 she worked at Rozana Montiel | Estudio de Arquitectura. Then she founded AWarchitecture office and currently collaborates with Dellekamp Arquitectos.

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