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Thermal Baths, Oaxaca

09/2022

Max von Werz Architects, in collaboration with IUA Ignacio Urquiza Architects, have been appointed to design a thermal baths project on the Oaxacan coast. More information to follow.

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Baja Club Hotel, La Paz

Hotel

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Location:  La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
Client:  Grupo Habita
Gross area:  3,625 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction supervision
Status:  built
Interior design:  JAUNE
Landscape design:  PAAR
Lighting design:  Luca Salas
Structural engineering:  DECSA
MEP engineering:  TALLER2M
Contractor:  GRAVI
Site supervision:  Luis Olachea Arquitectos
Architectural photography:  Rory Gardiner
Steel concept model:  Taller Tornel
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

Baja Club entails a 32-room lifestyle hotel for hoteliers Grupo Habita located on a beautiful plot of coastal promenade in the historic centre of La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Blending old with new, the project brings together the restoration and adaptive reuse of a pre-existing colonial-style villa dating from 1910 -once a site for oyster pearl harvesting- and the construction of a new four-story extension containing guestrooms, suites, a spa and a rooftop sunset bar.

The new build echoes the L-shaped floor plan of the villa resulting in an ensemble that loosely frames a central courtyard, home to several fragrant frangipani trees, while isolating a series of more tranquil gardens and patios along the perimeter of the site. Throughout the project, the material palette draws on the property’s original detailing, including artisanal terrazzo and Talavera tiles, hand-finished timber latticework and carpentry, and blown glass lamps in transparent and amber tones.

The tiered massing of the extension reduces its visual bulk and provides generous terraces enjoying panoramic views of the Bay of La Paz, once the setting of John Steinbeck’s novel The Pearl. Subtle nautical connotations such as the new build’s horizontal streamlining, curved timber bulkheads and massive built-in tables draw inspiration from the nearby Sea of Cortés once famously coined the “aquarium of the world” by Jacques Cousteau. Vertical circulation is resolved in form of a generous helical staircase positioned at the hinge point between the two wings of the new building.

Baja Club has received the following recognitions:

Condé Nast Traveler: Hot List 2022
(editors’ annual selection of the world’s best new hotels)

Travel + Leisure: It List 2022
(editors’ annual selection of the world’s best new hotels)

LIV Hospitality Design Awards 2022: winner
(winner in the boutique hotel category, winner in the midscale & lifestyle hotel category, jury favorite in the midscale & lifestyle hotel category)

Luxury Lifestyle Awards 2021: winner
(hotel architecture category)

Premio Noldi Schreck 2021: 2nd place
(tourism: boutique hotel category)

Premio Firenze Entremuros 2021: 3rd place
(public architecture category)

Global Architecture & Design Awards 2021: 3rd place
(built hospitality category)

Architecture Masterprize 2021: honorable mention
(hospitality architecture category)

Premio Interceramic 2021: special mention
(commercial architecture category)

Hospitality Design Awards 2021: finalist
(restorations, transformations + conversions category)

Premio Obra del Año 2021: finalist
(tourism & hospitality category)

Dezeen Awards 2021: longlisted
(hotel & short-stay interior category)

ArchDaily 2022 Building of the Year Awards: nominee
(hospitality architecture category)

Selected press:

New York Times T List
Architectural Record
Divisare

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Flax hut, Germany

Single family house

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In collaboration with Architekturbüro Stephan Wildgruber
Location:  Pfifferloh, Bavaria, Germany
Gross area:  250 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction permits
Status:  built
Construction design & supervision:  Anja Eckert / Architekturbüro Stephan Wildgruber
Photography:  Simone Bossi
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa
Contractor:  Baugeschäft Matthias Staber
Carpentry:  Zimmerei Stocker Prien
Structural engineering:  M-STATIK Philipp Metzger
Electrical:  Buchauer Elektrotechnik Frasdorf
Plumbing:  Florian Stein Frasdorf
Landscaping:  Hubert Fischer Gartenbau

This project entails the adaptation and extension of a heritage-listed flax threshing hut located in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps. The client brief required that the existing stone construction, dating back to the 18th century, be upgraded into a fully functional country home. In close dialogue with the local heritage authorities, a strategy was developed to keep the original building fabric as intact as possible while accommodating complementary functions in a new low-slung volume which at first glance is perceived as a separate and autonomous construction.

Old and new building volumes are connected by a discrete transversal structure. The concept of a cluster of volumes growing incrementally over time draws from local agricultural building types and reads as a kind of “Hof” or homestead. The aim was that the new build extension harmonizes pleasantly with the original construction through its choice of material and form while forgoing imitation or pastoral ornament.

The resulting 250 m2 ensemble of building volumes shields itself from its immediate neighbours to the north, while at the same time opening itself southwards to the village core, alpine mountain range, and afternoon sun. The extension was constructed on the basis of a timber post system set on a concrete basement foundation and finished with timber siding in accordance with the local vernacular. The low-pitched roof with its wide eaves is clad in naturally patinating copper.

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Calle Colima, Mexico City

01/2019

Max von Werz Architects has been appointed to develop a conservation project for a Porfirio–era townhouse in the Roma Norte neighbourhood of Mexico City.

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OMR, Mexico City

Art gallery

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Project in collaboration with Mateo Riestra & José Arnaud Bello
Location:  Colonia Roma, Mexico City
Client:  Galería OMR
Gross area:  550 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction supervision
Status:  built
Structural engineering:  DECSA
MEP engineering:  TALLER2M
Photography:  Rory Gardiner

After 30 years in a turn-of-the-century Porfirian villa, the renowned contemporary art gallery OMR decided to move to a new location. The chosen site was an existing brutalist building called Sala Margolin, originally dedicated to the sale of records and books. The building’s design consisted of a single large space covered by a coffered concrete roof slab under which the different sections of the store were organized by subtle changes in floor level. The roof was supported around the perimeter and by four slender concrete columns framing a central skylight, the most important light source for the space.

The design strategy was to preserve the existing building as much as possible. A central bathroom core was demolished and some interior details toned down so as to bring out the character of the building and transform it into a generous exhibition space. In order to provide the flexibility required by the client, the concrete floor was leveled and structural wall linings were applied to the interiors, allowing the hanging of substantial artworks anywhere within the 5.5 meters room height. Accompanying the main exhibition space on the ground floor are an access courtyard, reception, technical storage space and a rear garden courtyard onto which a bar opens.

A vertical extension accommodates supplementary programs in order to not compromise the existing spaces. This new top floor houses a multipurpose space, art storage, offices, a library, meeting room, kitchen and terrace. By thickening the wall that faced the rear courtyard it was possible to resolve the vertical circulation to the new top floor without affecting the structure of the existing slab. This “thickened wall” – a mere two meters wide – allowed the accommodation of a mezzanine with bathrooms as well as the opening up of the newly added interior spaces towards the courtyard by means of a modern and paired down glazed facade. Built on site using standard steel profiles and arranged in rectangular modules this façade integrates projecting windows allowing for passive ventilation. In lieu of a fixed goods lift that would have required the perforation of the existing slab or the introduction of an extra volume infringing on the rear courtyard, the facade has an openable section that allows the movement of large format artworks to the top floor via a mobile lifting platform.

The newly built top floor is organized according to the structural scheme of the original construction, roughly forming a 9-square grid layout that provides a maximum of flexibility by allowing a variety of ways to subdivide space and distribute circulation. On reaching this floor, visitors discover the large multipurpose space that functions as an extension of the main exhibition gallery, a showroom, a work space and a place for workshops and lectures. In keeping with the position of the original skylight, the library becomes a new central light space that articulates all other functions. Facing the street is a more private space where the meeting room, kitchen, executive office and terrace are situated. The terrace is the result of a 4-meter setback of the top floor which functions as a mediating element towards the street, keeping the proportions of the original facade intact and allowing for a discreet intervention. A lateral staircase leads from here to the rooftop effectively creating an extension of the terrace during larger scale social events. In turn, this space has been conditioned to function as an outdoor workshop where part of the preparatory work for exhibitions is done.

The result is a sober project that amplifies the character of the original building whilst preparing it for a new cultural life without falling back on the international conventions of the sterile white cube.

Selected press:

Architectural Review
Baumeister
Dezeen
Divisare

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Calle Praga, Mexico City

Mixed use development

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Project in collaboration with Josué Palma / uptac
Location:  Colonia Juarez, Mexico City
Client:  Ricardo Porrero
Gross area:  1,100 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction documentation
Status:  under development (construction documentation)
Structural engineering:  Ricardo Camacho
MEP engineering:  Grupo BVG
Visualisation:  AUPA
Physical models:  Alberto Molina & Rubén Oliveros
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

On the project site in Mexico City’s Juárez neighbourhood stand two single–family houses built simultaneously in the 1930s but in completely contrasting styles; one in the bold forward–looking Art Deco, the other in the quaint and nostalgic Spanish Colonial Revival.

The project brief was to restore, retrofit, and extend the existing building fabric in order to achieve the density and spatial diversity required for the property’s new life cycle as a gallery–sharing hub. In the planned intervention a new lightweight steel construction nestles itself onto the pre–existing construction, thereby tying together the two disparate pieces of period architecture while also giving form and coherence to two previously disarranged courtyards within.

The new steel construction is set back from the street line in order to reduce the visual impact on its surroundings.

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Casa Cieneguita, San Miguel

Single family house

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Location:  Cieneguita, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Gross area:  355 m2
Phases:  concept design (in collaboration with Ted Wolter )
Status:  built
Photography: César Béjar
Physical model:  Enrique Salazar
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

Located in the countryside close to San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, this project entails the adaptive reuse and extension of a modest adobe brick structure for its future use as a private country home. The project was conceived and managed by interior designer Ted Wolter with Max von Werz collaborating on the architectural concept design.

The project dispenses with windows lifted from the floor, using instead steel and glass doors that fulfill the double function of window and door. The architectural plan of the house is made up of rooms connected by doors, avoiding corridors altogether. Doors set enfilade create striking views that cut across the entire house. Wooden beams placed at 50 cm intervals give the spaces a timeless character. A walled courtyard offers a private place for relaxation and contemplation, while containing a staircase leading up to a roof garden with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. Over time the exterior facades have been covered with the ficus pumila vine.

In order for the shift to adaptive reuse to be scalable and have a significant measurable impact on our environment, we believe that reuse projects should target not only monuments with historic or artistic significance but also ordinary everyday buildings. Demolition should become an absolute last resort, even for mundane or mediocre architecture. The challenge of how to transform and reinvent this kind of non-descript architecture in order to give it a new lease on life is not only central to combating climate change but also holds surprising architectural potential.

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SR61, Mexico City

Collective housing

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Location:  Colonia Reforma Social, Mexico City
Client:  InHouse
Gross area:  4,135 m2
Phases:  Competition by invitation
Visualisation:  VIA & PAAR
Physical models:  Alberto Molina & Enrique Salazar
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

Our competition proposal for this residential development in the colonia Reforma Social neighborhood of Mexico City envisions a staggered composition of slender building slabs in order to reduce visual bulk and optimize the 21 apartments’ views, natural lighting and cross ventilation.

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Calle Platon, Mexico City

Apartment

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Project in collaboration with Ingrid von Werz
Location:  Colonia Polanco, Mexico City
Gross area:  310 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction documentation
Status:  built
Photography:  Adrian Gaut for Beni Rugs with styling by Colin King

This project constitutes the extensive refurbishment of a full-story apartment in a building designed by the Russian–Mexican architect Vladimir Kaspé and completed in 1958. The tripartite staggering of the south–facing facade of the building makes room for generous exterior balconies that complement the interconnected dining, living room and study spaces. Our intervention includes a full and faithful restoration of the apartment‘s midcentury fittings and finishes, preserving the residence’s original spirit while bringing up to date the design and technical installations of the kitchen and bathrooms. Other interventions include fixed furniture and elements such as doors, windows, fireplace, planters, a desk and shelving.

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FICA, Mexico City

Temporary pavilion

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Project in collaboration with RZERO
Location:  Colonia Centro, Mexico City
Client:  Coordinación General de Asuntos Internacionales
Gross area:  4,350 m2
Phases:  competition by invitation (2nd place)
Visualisation:  VIA / Antonio Espinoza Velasco
Physical model:  MEENT
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

The “Feria Internacional de las Culturas Amigas” is an annual event that takes place on the main square of Mexico City dedicated to the dissemination of 94 countries’ customs and traditions. Our proposal for the architectural intervention of its 2017 edition envisages an ensemble of 6 pavilions that loosely frame a sequence of public spaces capable of absorbing and dispersing the 3.5 million visitors who attend the event in a time period of merely two weeks. By reconfiguring a standardised tent system used for temporary events, the project develops its own geometric vocabulary open to multiple readings such as zoomorphic forms similar to those occurring in the work of the artist Mathias Goeritz or the play of valleys and ridges and visual layering which occurs in the natural landscape of the valley of Mexico City.

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Tomás Moro school, CDMX

Mixed use infrastructure

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Project in collaboration with Luis Castellá
Location:  Colonia Cuajimalpa, Mexico City
Client:  Colegio Tomás Moro
Gross area:  7,040 m2
Phases:  Competition by invitation (2nd place)
Physical model:  Enrique Salazar
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

Our 2015 proposal for a 7,040 m2 new–build extension for Colegio Tomás Moro school, included drop–off, car park, and sports facilities. A structural module echoing the school’s “TM” monogram lends the scheme a strong visual identity while allowing for large structural spans.

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Casa del Lago roundabout, CDMX

Public space

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Project in collaboration with Carlos H Matos & Luis Orozco Madero
Location:  Bosque de Chapultepec, Mexico City
Client:  Museo Casa del Lago
Gross area:  1,300 m2
Phases:  concept design
Concrete concept model:  Taller Tornel
Model photography:  Enrique Macias Martinez

This proposal was the response to an invitation by Casa del Lago to study possible futures for the central roundabout of the museum grounds arising from the proposal to relocate a statue of the exiled Spanish poet Leon Felipe. Questioning the central and prominent position of this monument, gifted at the time by the Mexican president Echeverría, the project seeks to propose an inverted monument: As a piece of landscape architecture reminiscent of land art, the intervention is articulated as a series of thirteen excavated and interconnected cylindrical spaces, giving shelter and creating a flexible stage which may be appropriated for a variety of uses such as poetry readings.

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MUNET, Mexico City

Technology museum

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Project in collaboration with Tatiana Bilbao Estudio
Location:  Bosque Chapultepec, Mexico City
Client:  Fideicomiso MUNET
Gross area:  38,600 m2
Phases:  competition by invitation
Visualisation:  Albert De Franco
Physical model:  Taller Tornel
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

Our proposal for the new MUNET museum (National Museum of Energy and Technology) envisions a cluster of loosely arranged building blocks connected by generous cantilevered exterior balconies. The volumes are furthermore grouped around three central courtyards, in reference to the three themes of the permanent exhibition; Energy in Nature, Petrol & Electricity and Sustainable Development. In section, the complex is organised over one basement level and three above grade levels.

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Helmut von Werz monograph

11/2014

The first monograph on the German post–war architect Helmut von Werz has been published by the Swiss publishing house Birkhäuser.

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Max von Werz had the opportunity to participate in 2014 in the production of this first architect’s monograph on his grandfather Helmut von Werz.

As one of the great architects of the reconstruction of Munich, Helmut von Werz left a lasting imprint on the city during his life. The spirit of post-war architecture is visible in the impressive body of work that he created with his partners Johann Christoph Ottow, Erhard Bachmann and Michel Marx; work which was defined by moderation and preservation, while remaining receptive to the influence of the avant-garde.

Several buildings designed by the firm were the object of controversy at their time due to their modernity and use of new materials. This was the case with the new building for the State Archaeological Collection in Munich, which was one of the first buildings to be realised with an envelope made of weathering Corten steel.

Helmut von Werz
Ein Architektenleben – An Architect’s Life 1912-1990
Edited by Cordula Rau & Georg von Werz
Published in 2014 by the publishing house Birkhäuser
Contemporary colour photography by Florian Holzherr and Rainer Viertlböck
Graphic design by Heinz Hiltbrunner

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Ytterby house, Sweden

Single family house

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Location:  Ytterby, Stockholm archipelago, Sweden
Gross area:  65 m2
Phases:  concept design – construction documentation
Status:  built
Visualisation:  Albert De Franco
Physical Model: Enrique Salazar
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

The project entails the refurbishment and energetic retrofitting of a boathouse from approximately 1900 in order to function as a guest house. Similar to a boat, numerous functions – reception, kitchen, living room, dining room, bathroom, study and 2 bedrooms – are accommodated in a highly efficient and compact manner over merely 65 m2 of floor area distributed over two floor levels. Panoramic windows provide views onto the water of the surrounding archipelago.

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LEX Walsall, United Kingdom

Mixed use development

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Project in collaboration with Pan Yi Cheng, Lim Keong Wee & Charles Peronnin
Location:  Walsall, United Kingdom
Client:  Urban Splash
Gross area:  21,000 m2
Phases:  Competition (shortlist & honorable mention)
Physical model:  Enrique Salazar
Model photography:  Rodrigo Chapa

This development proposal for the 2.3 acre parcel LEX hinges on the provision of a vibrant urban realm. This is achieved by saturating the plan with a multitude of low–rise shop–houses that simultaneously frame open spaces and service three proposed high–rise blocks. A buffer zone is created, progressively phasing out the hectic atmosphere of the main road, while attracting visitors through a succession of bustling public spaces culminating in a waterfront promenade.

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Sprüth Magers, London

Art gallery

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Project in collaboration with Serie Architects
Location:  Mayfair, London, United Kingdom
Client:  Sprüth Magers
Gross area:  325 m2
Phases:  Concept design – Construction supervision
Status:  Built
Photography courtesy of Sprüth Magers

An 18th century listed townhouse building with a fully glazed shop front was chosen as the new premises for the renowned contemporary German art gallery Sprueth Magers. Of particular interest was the site’s latent potential to challenge the conventions of the white cube typology. The open character of the gallery space was exploited to create a distinctive type of exhibition space that acts as an extension to the streetscape and conversely makes use of the city as a vivid backdrop for the blue chip art on show. Our 2007 project formed the phase 1 architectural intervention to this building. The gallery has since been further expanded to take up the entire building in a phase 2 refurbishment in 2017 by architect Andreas Lechthaler.

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