bicentennial towers

10th Arquine Architecture Competition | 2007

Architecture: level-ak

Concept:

Mexico's Bicentennial Towers not only mark a milestone in the country's history, but also a milestone in the direction of building systems towards an ecologically sustainable future. The towers' design was inspired by Aztec design principles: the truncated pyramid form, the 13-20 numbering system and the Chinampas (floating gardens) and westward orientation. The evolutionary twisting form represents the coming together of technology and sustainability, the two being inter-dependent and inseparable. The building's extraordinary form creates an optical illusion: the shape seems to change as one moves around it even though the geometry is constant.

Buffer zone:
The external buffer supports a number of environmental and ecological functions: Vertical forest: a green zone containing epiphytic and other plants which help to filter out pollution and maintain constant internal temperatures, providing shade and creating a unique green aesthetic. The webbed structure of the buffer may also resist excessive sway of the tower in the event of an earthquake. The buffer will have the appearance of a spider's web because of the use of the titanium structural members. The web also supports solar reflector panels which react automatically to weather conditions.

Central core:
In the middle of each tower is a structural service and circulation core. The towers will use natural methods of heating and cooling (eg thermal mass, geothermal, underground labyrinth systems). Air is drawn up the central core through an internal wall cavity which draws air up through the building, creating natural stack ventilation. The lakes surrounding the building will be used to provide water for the tower and used water will be filtered and recycled.

Mixed use accommodation:
The main body of the tower is a stack of flexible open plans around the central core. The outer perimeter of this accommodation zone is fully glazed with laminated glass, ensuring ample transparency and solar gains. Building materials incorporated within these spaces are selected on the basis of their organic content and amount of embodied energy.