Essay 4 is an architectural project by Mexican practice MANDANA, which took place at an apartment in the trendy Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City.
The challenge of this project was to merge an apartment of classical style with the neighborhood’s contemporary architecture. This was achieved by adding apparent structural elements, double height ceilings, while achieving a sensation of transparency.
A beautifully crafted red oak structure is assembled, following the same rationale of scaffolding, to create a series of structures with the objective of extending the space’s original function. The scaffold-like structure is filled with steps and it holds a mezzanine fitted with bookshelves. It extends to the patio and creates a hallway, which rests on the wall, holding a vertical garden. The scaffold binds interior and exterior, maximizing previously unused spaces, connecting levels. The structure becomes more visually dense where privacy is needed and is left bare to open up the space in communal areas.
This project was based on an exploration of the concept of prostheses. Prostheses are divided into two categories: corrective, for example the glasses and frames that an optometrist produces which help the user to recover eyesight; and extensive, for example, the telescope and the microscope that offer the possibility to see things indistinguishable by the naked eye.
MANADA present an intervention that can be considered as both a corrective and extensive prosthesis. Corrective since there are new connections between spaces which were previously unused; and extensive since the structure is equipped with different devices that allow for sitting, keeping books or hanging plants. All these prosthetic forms offer more functions to the space than those expected from a structure that is only for support.