Victor Legorreta
Managing and Design Director and Partner
View from the Top

Gentrification a Catalyst for New Housing Trends

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 13:15

Q: What are the main architectural trends to incorporate sustainability into buildings?

A: Fifty percent of global energy consumed is by buildings and 25 percent by transportation so the way we plan cities and construct buildings has an effect on 75 percent of total energy consumption. As architects and urban planners, we have a great deal of responsibility in designing for the future and I see this as a big opportunity. The most in-demand designs will be more eco-friendly and sustainable and now new materials and elements will begin to be used in a much more creative way. In some ways, we will also go back to traditional architecture, incorporating more natural light and cross-ventilation and using more locally sourced materials.

Q: Why are you trying to achieve the Living Building standard with your Casa Encino project?

A: The client was particularly interested in the standard and wanted the building to blend in with the landscape since it is located in the middle of the woods. We explored a variety of options, including recovery of rainwater, installation of solar panels and use of natural materials and cross ventilation. The landscape is based on local vegetation so no additional water is required for the plants and an orchard is part of the property. It made us think of solutions we had never considered before. This project also taught us that it is important to be flexible and not remain attached to a preconceived idea or way of working. With Encino, we examined the overhangs to evaluate how much they would have to be extended to offer protection and also considered how the architecture would look. These decisions should not be looked at as a constraint but more as an opportunity.

Q: What is the main added value you can offer developers looking to work in residential real estate?

A: One benefit is lower maintenance due to our focus on eliminating waste and increasing sustainability in our buildings.It must be said that sometimes it can take years to fully recover the investment when incorporating these methods and materials but this does not negate their importance. I am very happy that younger generations especially are placing more emphasis on sustainability and are willing to choose one property over another due to this factor. For designers and for the developers that pay attention, this is a considerable opportunity, not only for apartments but also for workplaces. People are really placing extra value on this.

Immediately when incorporating these features, the architecture begins merging with the culture and location of Mexico. The company is working on a Four Seasons hotel on the Pacific coast with Taller de Arquitectura Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo, and at the beginning the hotel wanted to adhere to a certain standard it incorporates globally. Subsequently, the hotel carried out a study to determine what holidaymakers valued and ultimately the results showed a greater value placed on a reflection of the local culture within the hotel’s architecture. Their customers want the Mexican experience when staying in a Mexican hotel. We are now working with two clients from the US and one from the UK on building houses in Los Cabos, Baja California and all three requested that Mexican culture be incorporated into their dwellings from the outset, while remaining contemporary.

Q: This year, where are the key areas for real estate development in Mexico City?

A: We are beginning a project in Lindavista starting a large development in Satelite that will involve converting industrial areas to residential. I think these are the areas that have a lot of opportunity as well as others in the north of the city around the same area. The rapid gentrification of the Roma and Condesa neighborhoods is now beginning to spread to Juarez and Reforma in the north and Del Valle and Narvarte in the south. Development will largely be concentrated in the center of the city in these key areas. Previous government policy was horizontal development on the outskirts of the city, which was completely unsustainable, especially when considering today’s changing demographic. Young people now want to live in the same area where they work so neighborhoods can develop organically, which is much more sustainable.