Gallery: BNKR Arquitectura Reveals Plans for an Incredible Underground ...

Named the Zocalo, the 190,000 square foot city center plaza is the ideal spot for an earthscraper.
Named the Zocalo, the 190,000 square foot city center plaza is the ideal spot for an earthscraper.

Over the past few decades, Mexico City has seen an enormous population boom. Though the steady influx of people is great, the city center is in desperate need of more office, retail, and living space. However, because of Mexico City’s historical significance, federal and local law prohibit the destruction of historical buildings (which is nearly everything) and have placed strict height regulations on new structures, keeping them shorter than eight stories. Thus, with nowhere to go, BNKR decided to invert a massive building design that digs deep into the heart of the city.

The first 10 stories of the structure will be a Pre-Columbian museum. The glass ceiling will allow people walking through the plaza to enjoy the artifacts below as well. The next 10 stories will be for retail and housing. These floors were put below the museum so people would have to travel through it and explore the history of the city they would perhaps otherwise ignore. The following 35 floors will be office spaces.

The whole design boasts a massive central void that allows natural light and ventilation to flow through every single floor. The “Earth Lobbies” on every 10th level also helps keep the building air fresh and clean, with enormous plant beds and vertical gardens filtering air toxins and producing more oxygen. These lobbies also serve as an open and clean communal area to break up and brighten the structure.

The very bottom floors of the Earthscraper are for all of the technical parts of the building. A water turbine generator pushes water into the exterior wall pumps and recycles used and clean water for the building’s facilities while also powering most of the electricity.

Named the Zocalo, the 190,000 square foot city center plaza is the ideal spot for an earthscraper. Surrounded by monuments like the Metropolitan Cathedral, National Palace, and Constitution Square, as well as a massive underground subway station, it is one of the most heavily trafficked sites of the city. BNKR’s design allows for the historical aesthetics of the plaza to remain while a bustling eco-center hums underground.

+ BNKR Arquitectura

Via Evolo


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  1. Stuart F November 29, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Not to mention that the water table is about a milimeter below the ground, meaning that they’re going to have to have pumps going all the time. If these fail, maybe during an earthquake, then you have to evacuate people from 20 or 40 stories underground, and the eletricity might be out. Best thing might be to arrange it so that the water would infiltrate from the bottom only, not from the sides, and the people could gradually float up to the surface.

  2. nooney.s.89@windowslive... October 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    The earthscraper design is beautiful …. Its design looks very interesting …. I would love to visit when its done

  3. bmally October 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm

    Just incredible!

  4. azteca13 October 7, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    This design is nuts. I live in Mexico City, and the central district of the city is built on top of what was an extense region of the Texcoco lake, meaning that the ground is pure mud, extremely unstable and difficult for anyone to place proper building foundations here (not to mention the cost of it). The structure would suffer tremendous humidity filtration, and grpund-dynamics issues. Besides, the plaza above (Zocalo) is the favourite spot for any kind of massive gathering of people, be it in the form of protest-camp-sites, demonstrations, artistic expressions (remember Ashes and Snow?), concerts, the venue for the yearly ice-skating rink, and so on and so forth. That would mean, that the light input of the inferior levels would be constantly obstructed, and dirty. Personally, I think it is a terrible idea. What we have to do is not try to encourage more businesses and housing in even more tighter spaces, but to try to find ways of limiting this people-influx.

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