Tesina presentada por Isabel Gómez Alvarez [isabel.gomezaz@udlap.mx]

Miembro del Programa de Honores. Licenciatura en Arquitectura. Departamento de Arquitectura. Escuela de Artes y Humanidades, Universidad de las Américas Puebla.

Jurado Calificador

Director: Dr. Eduardo Gutiérrez Juárez
Presidente: Dr. Nicolás Esteban López Tamayo
Secretario: Dra. Melissa Schumacher González

Cholula, Puebla, México a 20 de junio de 2020.


It is of crucial importance for architects to study the surroundings in which their buildings will eventually arise. Even before the preliminary sketches, the context must be taken into account. Every location has its genius loci, its distinctive atmosphere, and taking it in consideration will result in the building being in harmony and unity with the context. Is it possible for a project to transcend its framework and therefore be able to replicate it exactly in different locationsα The answer to this question must be no. Context is whatever is around the place and could have an impact in the design: nature, landscape, scenery, topography, climate, hydrology, the social, economic and historic conditions, to name a few. Not one piece of land is equal to another, and therefore, there must be variations in the designs. At the end, the architectural work should become an element of the whole, an integral part of the environment. There is no architecture without a concept, a general idea, or a diagram that gives coherence and identity to a building. Bernard Tschumi wrote in his article in the Arquine Magazine (2005): The concept is what distinguishes architecture from mere construction.

However, there is no architectural concept without context. An architectural work is always located on a specific site. In architecture, the concept and context must be inseparable. Sometimes, they are in contention. The concept may deny or ignore the circumstances surrounding it, while the context may obscure or blur the accuracy of the concept of the building. It is imperative to understand that a building demands to be designed following a concept and a context. Every building should be unique in its nature, attendingits different surroundings and harmonizing with it. Comparing architecture to a puzzle can be thought of a building being a remaining piece, it should fit perfectly to create a clearer and beautiful picture as a whole. The key to designing a building is to thoroughly study the characteristics in which it is going to be set, considering both the concept, and context equally, so that the consolidation of the two will result in a harmonious space. Shigeru Ban is a Japanese architect from Tokyo who is different from other well known architects in that he does not simply build, he gets involved to discover the actual needs of the users, whether they are clients or victims of natural disasters. His work strives to bring pleasure to his clients. He studies the context and conceives the design an integral part of the whole, he contemplates architecture not just as individual objects, but as part of the existing surroundings. The way he builds, the materials he uses, the orientation of the building, it is all about where it is located. The project is thought and designed considering the setting. Shigeru Ban is a Pritzker prize winner who has developed a wide variety of projects throughout his career, he is also altruistic, he builds shelters and relief housing for those who have lost their homes in natural disasters. He believes in a balance between commercial and humanitarian projects. He often says: αI spend the same kind of energy and time regardless if it is a commissioned work, or disaster relief work, I get the same satisfaction building for the rich and the poor.α (Ban & Watanabe, 2017). I had the opportunity to do my internship in the Tokyo office of Shigeru Ban Architects, and it was then that I realized the importance of context. The project assigned to me was a boutique hotel in the city of Nagano. I did all the models and helped in the design and layout for this project. One of the challenges we had was to preserve the trees and plants, so the project had to raise around them. This task presented all kinds of issues that had to be resolved, but Shigeru Ban insisted that it was of the utmost importance to respect the context. Shigeru Ban Architects in Tokyo is located in Higashi Matsubara, Setagaya Ku, Tokyo. This is a residential area fifteen minutes away from cosmopolitan Tokyo. The setting is totally different from the hustle and bustle of the city; as one steps down from the metro station, a sense of peace invades you. Whereas in Tokyo the streets are wide, full of traffic and people, Higashi Matsubara is a quiet place with little streets and it is the perfect place to live for people in the middle and upper middle class. One particular house made me turn my head, I was struck by the perfect harmony between the home and the setting, and how much the architect had taken advantage of the context to produce an amazing living space that combined the use of natural elements, such as orientation and light with technology and design to create a wonderful feeling of satisfaction. The architect was Shigeru Ban, and thus I had the opportunity to study the house more in depth. The idea of trying to place the blueprint of such house in a different context, and trying to find a similar setting in a different country seemed most interesting as a thesis project. The ulterior motive of this venture is to prove that it is not possible to replicate a project in a different environment and have exactly the same result, the same feeling. The interaction of the building with the context, the different types of context, the immediate context, the interior context, the proximal context, even the cultural and historic context, and the traditions and customs of the clients are different, and therefore changes have to be made to the original architectural plan. I chose a site in San Pedro Cholula, a piece of land with similar conditions and similar in size to the one in Higashi Matsubara.

The original project at Hanegi Park will be situated in the selected site in Cholula, Puebla and the scope of the study will be to prove that changes must be made in order for the building to harmonize with the new environment.

Palabras clave: Context, Architecture,.

Table of content




Capítulo 1. Introduction

Capítulo 2. Theoretical Framwork

Capítulo 3. Project Development

Capítulo 4. Final Conclusions


Anexo 1. Letter of Recommendation

Anexo 2. CV (Curriculum Vitae)

Anexo 3. Site plan

Anexo 4. Floor plan level 1

Anexo 5. Floor plan level 0

Anexo 6. Floor plan level -1

Anexo 7. Elevation

Gómez Alvarez, I. 2020. The essentiality of contextual architecture. Tesina Licenciatura. Arquitectura. Departamento de Arquitectura, Escuela de Artes y Humanidades, Universidad de las Américas Puebla. Junio. Derechos Reservados © 2020.