Mayer Hasbani
CEO of Mayer Hasbani

Project Development With Aesthetic, Urban Sustainability Approach

Mon, 11/05/2018 - 12:03

Aesthetics and functionality should not be conflicting ideas but architects and developers must understand the market’s demands and how spaces can be made more functional through shared amenities, says Mayer Hasbani, CEO of architectural firm Mayer Hasbani. “We decided to promote our spaces as something exclusive,” he says. “Amenities became very important under this scheme because they are the gateway for individuals to become part of a community and to get to know their neighbors.”
Hasbani has approached several projects with the idea of building something functional that also has aesthetic appeal to cater to the changing mindset of today’s residents. “While projects once focused on apartments with three bedrooms and gardens following a more horizontal vision, in the cities where we have operated 25 percent of the apartments were inhabited by one or two people,” says Hasbani. “As a result, we have adapted to provide more compact spaces that still offer aesthetic appeal while also offering added value through amenities.”
The firm expects demand for spaces that offer both style and comfort to continue. Mayer Hasbani conducted a study that showed demand for studio apartments and units for two people has significantly increased. Since 35-40 percent of a person’s lifetime can be spent in this kind of space, Hasbani says that any space designed to cater to this demand should offer something different to attract attention.
Mayer Hasbani’s capability to adapt to the users’ needs and the environment has also allowed it to participate in more demanding projects such as the restoration of a building protected by INBA as a heritage site. Capital Park, located in Mexico City’s Condesa neighborhood, was particularly difficult because it involved conceptualizing and modernizing an Art Deco-style building without compromising the integrity of the surrounding area, while negotiating with several public entities. “We approached INBA on two occasions, the first with the intention to develop the project and the second to present our proposal,” says Hasbani. “After our first encounter, we carried out a thorough analysis of the building and the surrounding area and we constructed an architectural thesis of how the project should be carried out to reinterpret the art deco style and modernize it. The project was very well-received and it was validated by INBA, so constructing it was easy in the end.”
Verticalization has become a main trend that the firm has decided to champion as a way to solve several social and infrastructure problems. “Verticalization adds no extra cost for the city, whether land is zoned for a three-story or a 15-story building,” says Hasbani. “The city can get the taxes from these buildings without compromising available space.”
The firm has specialized in verticalization for the last 10 years and Hasbani says the company’s experience shows verticalization and urban densification do not necessarily imply the building of 30 to 40-story skyscrapers. “Cities can have high levels of densification with an average height of eight to 10 stories like in Barcelona or Madrid,” he says. “Mexico’s cities have an average height of two to three stories with isolated peaks of 50 stories.” Successful verticalization can offer companies equilibrium in their cost-benefit analyses of certain heights. This improves the economic viability and profitability of projects at eight to 10 levels. In comparison, building a 50-story project implies an investment in high technology to support the structure.
Hasbani sees great potential in cities beyond Mexico City to keep fostering verticalization, with ongoing projects in Puebla, Queretaro, Tijuana, Merida and Leon. The firm has also detected an opportunity in the contraction of apartment size. Hasbani also points out that land and construction costs, as well as interest rates, have risen disproportionally to the increase in the average income of the population, so companies must adjust their offering to meet new price demands. “The most efficient way to reduce construction costs would be to reduce parking spaces. Our projects are normally designed so 50 percent of the area is destined for users and the rest for circulation and parking space. If we could find a way to reduce space for cars, that could cut construction costs by 30 percent, thus balancing the scale,” he says.