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Derek Dellekamp’s fine feel for interspace
by Sophia Walk | 3/26/2014
etween the units. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto

Derek Dellekamp set up his business in Mexico City around the same time Tatiana Bilbao and Michel Rojkind established their firms. In 1999, he founded Dellekamp Arquitectos, headquartered in the Mexican capital. One thing that immediately strikes the eye if you glance at the Dellekamp project list is the focus on residential buildings, the majority of them homes for between one and three families, in both urban and rural settings.

Just this year saw the commissioning of “Casas Mestre” (Houses of stairs), a project in Valle de Bravo, 130 kilometers west of Mexico City’s municipal limits. The small village on Lake Avándaro is enveloped by green mountain slopes. The Casas Mestre are a demonstration of Dellekamp’s fine feel for a kind of architecture that ties in beautifully with the surrounding countryside. The architects built a small complex of three successive four-storey residential buildings; the levels are staggered, creating the impression that they cascade down the hillside. In an effort to ensure all levels enjoyed a view of the sea, the rooms were designed as boxes and arranged horizontally along the hillside. The result: The private space inside each residential unit interweaves with the public space between the units. Exuding a white and purist aesthetic, the Casas Mestre speak a clear yet unobtrusive vernacular in this charming rural setting on Lake Avándaro.

Away from the road

Derek Dellekamp equally succeeds in an urban context with his concept of marrying green spaces and residential homes – the housing project “Michelet 50” in the heart of Mexico City is an extraordinary case in point. The multi-family home in the Anzures district was built at a small crossroads in 2010. In order to offer the residents some private exterior space just outside their apartments in a densely populated city as is Mexico Dellekamp decided to set the apartment building back from the road. Moreover, he then divided the three-storey edifice into three cubes to allocate maximum façade surface area to each apartment. The structure’s clear outline and striking glass façades alternate with greened walls between the cubes.

Retreating between steles

That there is absolutely no rivalry among Mexican architects and indeed every effort is made to close ranks is evidenced by the “La Gratitud” (Gratefulness) project, for which Dellekamp teamed up with Tatiana Bilbao. The open-sided chapel is located at the start of the “Ruta del Peregrino” pilgrimage route in the Mexican state of Jalisco. Four white prefabricated concrete steles meld to form an abstract chapel that beckons pilgrims to pause and ponder a first time. The structure, which is not a self-enclosed shell but an open space that unfolds between the white steles, contemplates the fundamental concept of space in architecture.

Derek Dellekamp’s architectural output references the surrounding countryside in extraordinary ways. If, as in the “Michelet 50”, there is no landscape setting housing project he simply creates one as part of the planning.

www.dellekamparq.com

etween the units. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto
The Casas Mestre were built with local materials, in which especially the slim window profiles leaves the German architect with envy. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto
The Casas Mestre were built with local materials, in which especially the slim window profiles leaves the German architect with envy. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto
Scenic landscape: the Avándaro Lake and the mountains of the Valle de Bravo offers a unique view to the inhabitants of the Casas Mestre. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto
Scenic landscape: the Avándaro Lake and the mountains of the Valle de Bravo offers a unique view to the inhabitants of the Casas Mestre. Photo © Sandra Pereznieto