Three dozen shipping containers find a safe port in a modern apartment building in Mexico.
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In León, Mexico, Adrián López Menduett sought to create an architecturally adventurous apartment building. After he bought a parcel in the Piletas neighborhood, the city made plans to construct a road across part of his land, trimming the buildable area to just under 2,300 square feet—about a third of the original footprint. This neccessitated a vertically oriented design. To Mario Plasencia, the architect Menduett hired, shipping containers offered a way to keep costs down, to build sustainably with recycled materials, and to use an unexpected construction method. “The containers helped us get noticed,” Plasencia says. “Bringing people out of their comfort zone is a challenge. Everything here is built with the same materials, colors, and shapes.”
Finding the 36 containers needed to complete the eight apartments—a number determined by the number of parking spaces that could fit on the lot—proved difficult. Plasencia scoured many of Mexico’s ports to get them. He repainted each container in its original hue, creating a prismatic exterior. Most of the interior walls were covered with plaster panels for insulation and acoustics—”but it was important to leave one container wall exposed,” Plasencia says, “to preserve that sense of texture.”