Not many parts of the world have yet to be touched by the influential hand of Dame Zaha Hadid, but Central America had been one of them … until now. Following her first foray into South America — the proposal for a spine-like condominium in Rio de Janeiro was revealed late last year — the British-Iraqi architect has now ventured further north, unveiling a large, high-density residential master plan for a site in the Mexican city of Monterrey.
Esfera City Center will form a major new addition to the southeast of the country’s third largest city, situated within Huajuco Canyon, a long valley framed by two mountain ranges. The expansive scope of the scheme includes 981 apartments, a gymnasium, multiple swimming pools, a chapel, and a wide variety of public and private outdoor amenity spaces. It constitutes one of the largest housing developments designed by ZHA to date and will be constructed in three phases, with the first slated for completion come 2018.
A slick fly-through video accompanies the newly released renderings, possessing the same achingly cool cinematic style that the firm’s CGI artists have become renowned for over recent years (see the full range of trailers here). The context pulses into life to the beat of Matthew Herbert’s “The Audience”: waves of light emerge from the ground before solidifying to form buildings and the sinuous veins of a 320,000-square-foot public park are traced across the interior of the site. These classic curvilinear features are unmistakably Hadid, drawn like a fluid signature across the landscape.
The design brief for Esfera is notable for its evolution during the course of the project, with Hadid showing an unparalleled ability to influence major clients on large-scale aspects of their development. Mexican developer Citelis originally called for a series of homogenous residential towers surrounded by landscape, conjuring visions of Le Corbusier’s “Plan Voisin,” together with its well-documented urban planning pitfalls. However, ZHA had other ideas: they proposed a low-rise ribbon of interlaced apartment blocks, creating a continuous boundary around the perimeter of the site with a 320,000-square-foot park at its heart.