As the first step of an urban acupuncture strategy, the Barrio Capital: A Public Skyscraper in the heart of Mexico City taps into some of the city’s most pressing problems. Designed by Molcajete. Urban Think Tank, the project responds to several urban problems, such as the lack of public space per inhabitant, insufficient parking space, and, above all, the scarce interaction between people from different socio-economical levels who share a defined territory within the city.
Team: Molcajete. Urban Think Tank
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Members: Eduardo Gorozpe: Architect (A001. Taller de arquitectura); Dolores Robles Martínez: Architect (Independent consultant); Ricardo Villagómez: Architect (Metro arquitectos); María José López Romo: Cultural planner & copywriter (Fetiche. Red editorial); Ana Paula Arnau: Graphic Designer (Sal Creativos); Consuelo Hernández: Graphic Designer (Clotilde)
Consultants: El Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, S.C. (Sociological entertainment research); Luis Jorge Arnau Ávila (Sociological and cultural analysis)

Skyscrapers are lies. They rise towards new heights, yet invite only an elite into their levitating reality. They, supposedly, stand for the materialization of a country´s development, a translation of its economical strength. However, they continually deceive us into believing all people rise with them, when, for most of us, they are mainly a visual ornament (inside of which a few pair of eyes survey our floor-level living).

This public skyscraper taps into new possibilities of this megalopolis by offering open, unrestricted access to public facilities which provide everyone with higher views of our daily space: Mexico City. Most of all, Barrio Capital creates a favorable atmosphere –through strategically designed spaces– for public, joint activities which stimulate visibility between different social groups.

The building´s structure was inspired by the reversibility of a city´s problems into possible solutions when seen from a new point of view. This insight was translated into intertwined Möbius strips which provide a 5 km track that surrounds the entire building and provides the structural support to sustain the skyscraper´s paraboloid body. Barrio Capital would be located in the Insurgentes Roundabout, a nodal point in the city, where two modes of public transportation (subway and Metrobus system) and the city´s largest vehicle circuit (Insurgentes Avenue) meet. The setting was chosen due to its high pedestrian and vehicular transit and to the multiplicity of urban identities that occupy and walk through this space every day.

The building´s architectural program contemplates 26 levels, which amount to a height of 330 meters. The first 12 will be destined to public parking, which will provide part of the money needed for the public facilities´ maintenance. The building itself has been conceived as a metaphor for social integration, where the needs of the population´s middle and upper socio-economical levels contribute to the well-being of the population as a whole.

The other 14 levels of Barrio Capital (some with several sub-levels) respond to a social-interaction-through-entertainment strategy. Some of these areas are: a multimedia center with books, music and videos available for everyone´s enjoyment; a public Sports Center which includes a Skate Park and Parkour Zone; a Golf range, open to everyone, more than 200 meters above ground level. Between these levels, several public parks –with a height of more than 30 meters– will provide open green spaces many meters above ground. A Nursery and Children´s Playzone will be available to all visitors, just above the main the Main Lobby. The cherry on the project´s top will be the Auditorium –with capacity for 2,500 visitors– where some of Mexico City´s public concerts can be honored with a magnificent view of the Chapultepec Castle.

Overall, the first Barrio Capital skyscraper offers around 2500 square meters of public vertical spaces. Mexico City, as many other megalopolis around the world cannot afford to expand outwards any further, it must grow from the ground and make good use of the space above head level. Barrio Capital elevates public solutions to unsought levels.