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June 30, 2022

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A Design History of Mexico City’s Vecindades | Bloomberg CityLab

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These grandiose buildings featuring a central courtyard were originally built to house European aristocracy in the Spanish colony beginning in the 16th century. In the generations since, these residential designs unique to Mexico City tell a story about the city’s development into a megalopolis and the country’s economic and political shifts. The buildings were eventually transformed into multi-family complexes by the Mexican working class with the shared courtyard becoming the communal heart. These relationships gave the vecindades a place in popular Mexican culture from film, to literature to music. Today, the old buildings that remain continue to form a nostalgic, but essential part of what it means to be Mexican.

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To understand a city, start with the foundation. Floor plans from homes around the world explain how the way we live has shaped the design of urban neighborhoods — and vice versa. This video is part of a special series that explores iconic residential architecture in cities around the world. Read more and sign up to get the next story in this series sent to your inbox:
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