Live Like A Local: An architecture lover’s guide to Mexico City
All the sites, scenes and buildings worth exploring around town, according to architect and local Soho House member Ernesto Pérez Rea
Tuesday 15 August 2023 By Yasemin Celepi
As we get closer to the opening of Soho House Mexico City, local members have shared their excitement about growing our creative community there, while our global members are already planning a trip to our first House in Latin America. And first up on their to-do list is exploring the city’s architectural wonders.
Mexico City is known as one of the global leaders in architecture, so it was only right that we got some insight from a local member who knows the place like the back of his hand. Ernesto Pérez Rea is an esteemed architect who was born and raised on the outskirts of the capital, before moving into the city, so he knows the area from the outside in. His young architectural firm, Oioioi, is rooted in the dynamic cityscape of Mexico City and was co-founded alongside his business partner Pablo Germenos in 2019.
Rea tells us that the reason Mexico City has such a high status in this field is ‘anchored in its cultural heritage, amplified by modern architectural marvels, propelled by cultural events and the innovative contributions of its architectural studios. It is a city that not only embraces its storied past, but also shapes the future of architecture on a global scale.’ Not to mention ‘the remarkable craftsmanship that’s deeply ingrained in Mexico’s architecture. It’s a tradition that’s passed down through generations, where artisans infuse their skills and passion into their work. In a world dominated by mass production, Mexico City stands out as a place where skilled hands craft intricate details and labour-intensive techniques thrive.’
So, as you enjoy the city’s culinary and cultural offerings, tequila and some much-needed relaxation, you’ll want to see some of the architectural hotspots while you’re in town. To help get your itinerary in shape, Rea reveals the can’t-miss spots in the Mexican capital.
Christ Church (Montes Escandinavos)
‘An impressive brickwork spectacle by Carlos Mijares Bracho, where a wide variety of geometric shapes are intertwined thanks to the ingenious use of various bonding techniques, vaults and architectural elements. This composition is an authentic sculptural work in the midst of the urban environment.’
Cárcamo de Dolores
‘Located in the second section of the Bosque de Chapultepec, its relevance lies in its function as a key element of the city’s hydraulic system. The Cárcamo de Dolores transcends its purely utilitarian role, becoming an architectural and artistic landmark that fuses hydraulic engineering with the aesthetics and creative vision of Diego Rivera. Overall, it’s a tangible manifest of human ability to solve urban challenges, and an emblematic collaboration between architecture and art in an city space.’
‘This iconic structure by architect Alberto Kalach incorporates unique concepts of transparency and connectivity. The library emerges as a fluid space, where the boundaries between inside and outside fade away, generating an immersive and dynamic experience. Oversized floating shelves, the fusion of vertical gardens and open areas redefine the traditional concept of a library and its ability to inspire, educate and connect people.’
‘Emerged from the untamed volcanic stone that’s characteristic of the local landscape, this building was conceived in the context of post-war Mexico during the 1950s. It captures the spirit of modernism and national identity. Notably, a large group of modernist architects, such as Felix Candela and Vladimir Kaspé, contributed their genius to this masterpiece, resulting in a campus that embodies architectural innovation and artistic expression while conveying a cultural and societal statement. It’s an enduring testament to modernist architects with an indelible legacy in the history of Mexican architecture.’
Banamex Centro Histórico (Banco Nacional de México)
‘An example of colonial and modern architecture designed by Abraham Zabludovsky and Teodoro González de León. This project establishes a peculiar dialogue between both styles, taking the same shape of the doors and windows of the former palace and reproducing it in the openings of the new building. It’s composed of prefabricated concrete modules with tezontle sand, the same volcanic stone that covers the Palacio de los Condes de San Mateo de Valparaíso – the adjacent 19th-century baroque-style building.’
Apply for membership at Soho House Mexico City.