Colonia Condesa, a Mexican neighborhood renown for its social scene, commercial activities, and nightlife, has received a new apartment building, Just BE, by Mexico-based design firm, Arquitectura en Movimiento (Arqmov). The apartment building resides on the same street as the Cultural Fund (Fondo de Cultura) and the Bella Época theater, both icons of Colonia Condesa.
Arqmov focused on the neighborhood’s social life and urban activities to produce open residences and public space.
JustBE is on the corner of Benjamin Hill Avenue, a larger circulation street for cars, bicycles, and pedestrians, and Calle Reynosa, a narrow street with only residential access. Arqmov applied this contrast to the two street-facing facades. On Benjamin Hill Avenue, the facade uses a wooden lattice to appear partly transparent, and on Calle Reynosa, the apartments have long balconies and full-height glass curtain walls.
According to Arqmov, JustBE was inspired by “huacal,” a wooden box popularly used in the area’s street life. “This element suggests enclosure and isolation and, at the same time, the openness and movement characteristic of a market on wheels,” explained the firm.
Arqmov was required to meet a minimum open area, which they responded to with two voids in the structure: first, an open staircase and, second, balconies facing the Cultural Fund. The two voids also ensure each apartment receives ventilation and natural light from all directions, Arqmov claims.
At night, each corner’s red tiled wall lights up to invite the public to sit on wooden cubes. Arqmov said in terms of the public space, “It is interesting to watch passers-by, whether on foot, by car or bike, interact with this space and with the active context surrounding it.”