BAAQ’ puts its name to a sustainable refit in Mexico City


Jaime Navarro Soto, Arturo Arrieta,

Mexico City, Mexico,




The Mexican architecture studio BAAQ’ founded by Alfonso Quiñones is behind the refurbishment and conversion of a 1960s building in a neighbourhood where the population density is rising. The project generates inclusive spaces, improves the use of daylight and implements sustainable solutions, including the harvesting of water.

  1. Blog
  2. Sustainable Architecture
  3. BAAQ’ puts its name to a sustainable refit in Mexico City

BAAQ’ puts its name to a sustainable refit in Mexico City When faced with projects in a dense urban fabric, the issue of refurbishing and converting existing buildings increasingly comes to the fore. Innovative projects can also help build up population density in neighbourhoods without encroaching on the few green islands, which need to be made a prerogative to make sure people can enjoy a better quality of life. 
This is what’s taken place in Santa Maria la Ribera, a neighbourhood in Mexico City located just west of the historical centre. After lots of ups and downs, being created in the first place for the affluent who wanted homes outside the city limits, it then went into a slow decline during the 1950s, as the city grew and apartment buildings were constructed. Today, it is a mix of old mansions and homes, small shops and businesses, tenements and abandoned buildings. 
It is also the context where BAAQ’ completed the refurbishment of Dr. Atl 285, an industrial building from the late 1960s designed around a foundation of an intricate structure of reinforced concrete beams and columns.
The architects came up with a project that exploits the layout of the existing structure, adding strategically positioned wooden cubes to provide private areas and also to generate a modular design that could be replicated according to different programs, sizes and configurations to meet a variety of market needs. They used the backyard patio to plan the circulation flow, with a permeable construction system allowing natural light to pass through. This has made the new apartments more liveable, making it possible to preserve the original façade profile without affecting the lighting in the units.
The project aims to demonstrate how architecture is adaptable using the resources at hand, showcasing the potential of the city to renew, and the ability to generate sustainable projects. At the same time, it shows how the restoration of constructions helps to preserve the cultural and architectural heritage, which builds a sense of a community and helps to reduce the environmental impact of real estate development.
This vision and circumstances have enabled the project to evolve into a much more sustainable iteration than first expected. The solutions adopted by the architects from BAAQ’ mean that Dr. Atl 285 excels when it comes to sustainability, turning it into an outstanding example among other projects of its kind. 
They put a lot of thought into the social aspects, in other words, into how to encourage people to interact in and with the urban fabric. Outdoor spaces, like the patios and the rooftop terrace, have become common areas that promote coexistence and a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle. Kitchen gardens growing on pallets produce vegetables for all the tenants and double as a point of contact, forging social engagement among the neighbours. And a tree-lined garden on the ground floor improves the microclimate of the complex. A water treatment plant under the old yard eliminates wastewater drains and serves to collect 100% of the rainwater, in turn saving up to 45% of water. 
With Dr. Atl 285, BAAQ’ shows how to make the best use of the urban and architectural heritage handed down through the history of Mexico City to generate inclusive, green spaces that allow people to live healthier lives in a harmonious, sustainable environment.

Christiane Bürklein

Project: BAAQ’
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Year: 2020
Images: Jaime Navarro, Arturo Arrieta