A group of investors have requested that we design the Latitud 19 Shopping Centre, strategically located inside a zone of eight residential developments, on a site south of the urban area of the City of Veracruz and its Port, on the 19 parallel, facing the Gulf of Mexico. A 17,000 sqm-programme of retail areas, open spaces and services on different levels sits on a 15,854 sqm site, blending well with the local topography and existing road access into the site. The physical and climatic constraints of the area spurred the idea of a breakwater, imagined to be mitigating the force of the sea, providing shelter from wind and absorbing climatic impact. In this way, a habitat, a microclimate is created, one that offers the user a comfortable living environment in a natural ecosystem of local vegetation. This principle led to the conception
of a sequence of volumetric 'staples', together forming a unit - a symbolic breakwater – which generates a series of internal and external spaces along its length. The proximity of the complex to housing developments means that it can easily be reached by bicycle, thus encouraging physical activity for all ages, given that Mexico, according to the WHO, has a high rate of obesity. The spatial composition creates an open pedestrian walkway contained under the large breakwater-like structures (roof slabs) that serve to mitigate against weather conditions. The landscape-conscious architectural design and the choice of floor textures suggesting salty residues, immediately make reference to the seaside context, salinity and the natural response of a real breakwater. Aesthetically we can talk about context- integrated architectu
ral design. A bioclimatic analysis of the project was made, considering that Veracruz is a place with one of the highest indices of salinity in the world. This determined design parameters for user enjoyment and effectiveness of construction materials and finishes, and ultimately for comfortable spaces. A plant for the management of residual (grey) water will allow for water reuse for irrigation as well as for certain other services. The project - unique in the area - manifests its architectural integration and the action and reaction of climatic and environmental conditions.