By Andrea Balestrero
Estela de Luz (Stele of light) is a monument built in Mexico City between 2010 and 2011 to celebrate the bicentennial of Mexican Independence from Spain.
The opening of the memorial was planned for September 15th, 2010, however for different reasons, the work was not completed until the end of December 2011. In the same year, several scandals uncovered alleged mismanagement with the fund for the construction of Estela de Luz. Its cost soared to reach a figure of 1.575 million pesos (about 71million euros), almost 200% of the initial budget, fueling rumors of mismanagement of the money.
The monument is 104 meters tall, it’s main vertical structure is constituted by two orders of four steel columns, supporting a secondary structure of steel profiles to which the outer coating of 1.704 quartz plates is hooked. During the night the quartz panels are illuminated by a system of digitally controlled led lights. Despite the polemics for the operating and maintenance cost of the monument, just after three years part of the 125 machines controlling the lighting system begun to fail.
For all these reasons, far from being appreciated, the Estela de Luz has become a kind of public joke, moreover it is nicknamed “suavicrema” by the inhabitants of Mexico City, thanks to its resemblance to a wafer biscuit.
The project aims to give a new dignity to this so mistreated monument, turning it into a model residence. It’s said that the monument consumes enough electricity to power more than 170 houses, so the project proposes to use part of this energy to feed 28 small housing units (about 50 sqm in two floors each) coupled in modules that can be easily suspended to the existing structure extending like a cantilever for 3,5 m on each side. The modules are entirely built using Kerto products (Kerto S and Kerto Q panels) side walls function as main supporting structure. Each apartment comes with a rooftop terrace, thanks to the distance between the modules. A concrete shaft is added in the middle of the structure to allow the installation of a lift, directly accessing entrance floor and terrace of each unit. A metal emergency staircase is placed against the south facade. The existing spaces in the basement floor can be converted to host collective services.
Thanks to the centrality and the characteristics of the building, the most appropriate destination is likely to host temporary more than permanent residences.