Casa Negra

108 | Mexico City

location: Mexico City

year: 2004

During the late 90´s the growth of suburbial areas of Mexico City was restricted as a part of Bando 2 program, which intended to slow down the spreading of the city in areas which had no infraestructure to support the expansion while promoting the re-densification of the central area of the city with under-used infraestructure. This represented a big break for many developers. Some architecture offices saw a clear opportunity to address an increasingly growing niche market that hadn’t been addressed before. Young prepared adults with mobility, which had grown in the suburbs longed for a cosmopolitan, urban life: walking distances, mixed use, accessibility. For a sector of the population the dream home changed from the house in the suburbs you would have seen on the american post-war movies, to the loft that appeared on the television series. Areas such as Colonia Condesa or Colonia Roma were transformed into the new hip residential areas.  The once idealized suburbs started to decline, and the recreational outskirts were no longer as coveted as before. As a small young office, we found that this new emptying spaces in the suburbs could represent a big opportunity, instead of trying to compete with the larger offices for a space in the central city. This home-studio sits on a sloped field on the outskirts of the city, near the old road to Cuernavaca, a popular weekend and holiday spot for the capital dwellers. Nearby, some dining places and viewpoints serve as gathering point to teenagers and couples in the night.
For a young couple, the opportunity of having a “custom made” house at a small price seemed a nearly impossible task, but we managed to design a cinder block house that suited their needs for less than $20,000 USD. Usually, cinder block is associated with the run down neighborhoods of Mexico City, but we always found this material appealing. A double height box standing on four 12ft pillars makes a single living space facing the urban landscape through one large window. In a way, it became a voyeuristic and introverted object that resembles a parked vehicle looking at the city lights at dusk.

Alejandro Alarcón and Frida Escobedo founded Perro Rojo in 2003. Their work has dealt, almost coincidentally, with the reactivation of urban and touristic areas considered as residual or decaying by making small, punctual actions that range from housing projects, community centers, to hotels and galleries. Over the years, they developed a particular interest in what makes a place desirable or decadent, the way formal and informal power changes the configuration of city and the close relation they have with some hopes, desires or wishes that lie in the Mexican collective imaginary.  Their work has been published nationally and internationally, and they were recently selected to participate in the Emerging Mexican Architecture Itinerant Exhibition to be presented in Colombia, Argentina and México. Currently their piece Caja Gris is exhibited in FONCA.

area 108 – Mexico City

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