Lar / Fernando Romero In Mexico City | The Plan
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Lar / Fernando Romero In Mexico City

LAR - Fernando Romero

Flying low into Mexico City is a special experience, a conflation of aeronautics and urban sprawl.  The mountains open to reveal a vast capital city with rampant urbanization far from its symbolic centre in the Zocalo.  The shadow of the jetliner washes and folds over the roofs and yards of a seemingly endless carpet of city blocks.  It brushes several isolated high-rises and jumps multi-lane traffic arteries, infested with SUVs, ageing buses and the ubiquitous Volkswagen taxis, before rejoining its host wings and fuselage on the approach runway to Benito Juarez International Airport.
This is the Mexico City analysed, dissected and catalogued by the young architectural practice LCM in its 2000 publication ZMVM.  LCM stands for Laboratorio de la Ciudad de México, ZMVM for Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México.  Recently LCM changed its name to LAR: Laboratory of Architecture.  If such titles assembled from initials suggest OMA, MVRDV and other contemporary Dutch practices, then it is not surprising that Fernando Romero, the key personality in LCM/LAR, worked for Rem Koolhaas and OMA (the Office for Metropolitan Architecture) from 1997 to 2000.  Based in Mexico City, Romero’s ambitions are also global.
ZMVM presents Mexico City as one of the world’s most populous conurbations, second only to Tokyo, growing from a core of 27.14km2 in 1900 to an expanse measuring 1,325.76 km2  today.  Corralled into eleven chapters with titles such as Water, Infrastructure, Education and Youth, ZMVM mixes statistics with images of everyday life: butcher shops, customised villas, shantytowns, car bumper stickers.  This portrait of a city - a manifesto almost - is unsentimental, full of energy, and with an eye for image.
LAR’s most recent addition to metropolitan Mexico is its tallest building yet.  This exceptionally skinny apartment tower is a totemic element thirty-four storeys high at Santa Fe south of the city centre.  There are three apartments per floor, attached...

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