Inaki Echeverria’s office in Mexico City has designed a façade in Villahermosa, Tabasco for Liverpool, Mexico’s largest luxury retailer. It’s located in a strategic area on the south end of the city, in the shopping center Plaza Altabrisa, part of a new development. The firm’s aim was to design a dynamic and modern facade that would provide a fresh image for Liverpool.
A+A recently interviewed Echeverria and Iván Parrawith about the project, via email:
What’s the design intent?
The intent was to come up with a façade that would respond to both a car passing through at high speed and a person walking toward the store. This was a crucial element of the process since it reflects a type of design which occurs in the negotiation ground between fast and slow.
Like in jewelry or textile design, the project seeks elegance in its technique, manufacturing method and materiality; it was almost like designing a necklace around the store. The aim was to come up with a dynamic and modern façade that would provide a fresh image for the client.
The design was not a preconceived image of the client or architect, but a result of a research and development process.
What were the challenges involved?
The project’s challenge was to find a simple and effective construction system to accelerate the production, assembly, and installation of the façade and, at the same time, lead to a complex and interesting proposal.
The selected method was to use concrete precast pieces. The façade is built by combining 5 different types of precast pieces shaped like a propeller. Each propeller is made-up of 4 or 5 segments depending on its height, and rotates 180° on its axis. Heights vary between 16 to 20 meters; therefore each segment rotates 36 to 45° depending on their position.
The response from the client? The public?
The client loved the project, not only because the design enabled a cost efficient and speedy construction process, but also because even though it’s an innovative and modern proposal, it aligns with the conservative and classic image that the store holds. From the public the response has been very similar; people began to talk about it at early stages of construction.
The store has already become an urban landmark for the city of Villahermosa; there is even a “YouTube” section with videos of the façade’s light sequence at night.