Jacinto Arenas
Ares Arquitectos
View from the Top

Planning Key to Sustainable Urban Growth

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 11:30

Q: How has the role of architecture in commercial real estate changed in the last few years?
A: Mexico’s cities are evolving and its economy is booming. At the moment, Mexico City’s GDP is higher than that of eight Latin American countries, with a tremendous amount of potential for development. But a growing market creates new demands and trends that developers must adapt to if they want to create successful projects. Architecture in Mexico is becoming more competitive each year due to greater demand for projects that provide an added value. New generations are looking for innovative products outside the traditional enclosed mall. Changes in purchasing preferences and online sales are creating innovation, and architecture and design now play a big role in differentiating one product from another.
Mexico’s middle class has grown and consolidated significantly in the last few years. Mexicans now have more disposable income. This is why mixed-use developments such as Galerías Valle Oriente in Monterrey and Averanda in Cuernavaca, have caught the eye of consumers and have integrated successfully into communities. This is mirrored in similar economies such as La Gran Manzana in Bogota and El Frutal in Guatemala. Each year there are more couples with two incomes but without children who are looking for new experiences and have new needs when it comes to shopping centers.
Q: How has Averanda impacted much smaller markets, such as Cuernavaca, Morelos?  
A: Averanda in Cuernavaca is one of our latest projects and it is a recent example of why it is important for developers to adapt to the changing market needs and trends. It is crucial that developers offer an added value and differentiate themselves. In front of Averanda is one of Cuernavaca’s oldest malls, Galerias, which has a more traditional concept. Averanda was designed with a more open concept, integrating green areas and open-air spaces to take advantage of the weather in the area. Many brands have moved to Averanda due to its popularity. The integration of various amenities such as entertainment areas, offices, homes and of course shopping spaces offers a completely different experience and it has proven to be a success.
Q: Why is it important that master plans are created in Mexico for the development of sustainable cities?
A: Masterplans such as the one we developed for Nuevo Tepic are designed to develop an area over the long term, in our case over the course of 20 years. Nuevo Tepic in particular is known for sugar cane and sugar processing. In many of these towns, urban sprawl is encroaching on agricultural areas, especially in states such as Veracruz and Nayarit. This project includes 300ha and has an urban concept planned integrally with governmental offices, green spaces, residential areas and the incorporation of mixed use. In this case, the commercial area is located next to the highway and we looked for ways to integrate it with the city to ensure sustainable growth.
We want to create attractive projects for communities and developers but more importantly, to create projects that will have a positive impact on how a city develops. We have to improve the quality of life of the public. Projects should aim to improve the lives of the people who will live and work there.
Q: What do you believe needs to happen for cities to flourish completely and foster growth?
A: In my opinion, sometimes the public sector does not take the time necessary to plan. A great deal of projects are carried out quickly due to time constraints and consequently are carried out incorrectly. We must take more time to plan out projects correctly. A real estate project can take many years to execute and we must respect the urban plans to ensure it will be an added value to society. This is where both the private and public sectors are going wrong. My wish is that all developers and the government become conscious to the fact that we must plan things correctly and with enough time so that they will work properly.