Design Challenges: Architectural Design in Mexico

The design of structures such as Alegranza involves an in-depth understanding of structural analysis, an understanding that only a talented Civil Engineer can master with excellence. Civil Engineer and MBA Iban García-Sanjuan, Alegranza’s developer and CEO of CABO Sanctuary Real Estate, took a moment to share with all of us the extraordinary…his experience.

What is your opinion about Alegranza Design, what is the story behind its architectural concept?

The conceptualizing of Alegranza followed the purest style in product design consultancy. First, we applied a primordial premise that establishes the consultancy philosophy known as “Six-Sigma”, which establishes as an essential step when launching a product of service, the task to “Know your client.” Once its definition is clear, the second premise is “Voice of the Customer” (listen to your client.) In today’s practices, we tend to believe that we know more than our clients about their tastes. Six-Sigma tries to avoid to assume without asking that our clients will like an apartment with certain qualities of our choice and in many instances we are mistaken. In Alegranza’s case, the architect we hired, Carlos Herrera (the same who built the successful hotel Ventanas al Paraíso), very well known and very good at what he does, was amazed when we gave him a document with the “Product Requirements.” In more than 200 pages, the conclusive results from a poll directed to our potential buyers and their Real Estate brokers. In this document we defined the types of apartments, sizes, finish types, and here we emphasised the aspects of design to which the architect had to pay special attention, such as the views, and the kitchen and bathrooms distribution and appearance. In short, we asked the architect to do his best of what he really knows best, which is to work with volumes, aesthetics and spaces, under very strict product requirements oriented to the needs of our potential buyer.

Which qualities determine a successful collaboration between developer and architect?

As I just illustrated, I believe it is very important that each part plays its specific role. The developer must contribute with much more than just a business with cash flow. He needs to know very clearly the characteristics of the product that he is going to sell. It is as if a toy factory would hire an engineer to design their toys. What is appropriate is for the factory to have their own experts, and even observe how “children play” to define the characteristics that the toys should have, then give them to the engineers so they can resolve how to best design them, so they can also have an attractive aesthetic. Still, the concept of the product has to start from the developer, who has to deeply surround the architect with the information about how his potential client behaves: his tastes, his habit patterns, his preferences, even his way of life. During this whole process, communication between architect and developer, especially his sales team, is vital.

What are the factors that determined the design of space and the common areas?

A great part of the product characteristics were the result of the consultancy study that we, as developers, did before starting the architectural design. We already knew how many apartments were going to be built, how many of each type, the bedroom sizes, the maximum and minimum dimensions of bathrooms and kitchens, finish types, and also the importance of certain determinant aspects of our clients, such as their privacy, views, security, and service level. We re-designed some things and transformed them according to our growing knowledge of our clients’ needs. An example is the incorporation of a restaurant, a bar & grill, the concierge office, or the different service areas that originally we hadn’t contemplated.

From your perspective as a developer in Los Cabos, which is the order of priorities to follow during the design of a product such as Alegranza?

First, is to have a good “thermometer” of what is happening in the real estate market, starting with a good market study, a benchmark of the available inventory, sales that are closing. This way you will define better the type of client you want to target. Second, to identify the type of product that this client requires. My experience tells me that even if there are detours, the location, the views and the amenities are factors to be considered between the first preferential characteristics of the product. Third, would be the type of product (apartments vs. family homes, townhouses, etc.), dimension, distribution, and qualities.

What profile characteristics did you take in consideration when you chose your design and architectural team?

We opened a contest between several architects, all of them Mexican, because we thought that the product we wanted to sell had to have a clear National accent. Another common element between them was that they all had designed beach products. All of them had years of experience. Finally, we selected Carlos Herrera, a great architect famous in México for his design of the most beautiful beach mansions in places like Huatulco, Los Cabos, Acapulco, etc. We thought it to be an excellent combination and a challenge, to have an architect used to great spaces and luxury build apartments with some space restrictions. The result was a success, as much in design and innovation as it was commercial.

In your opinion, what is the importance that Interior Design has in the task of influencing the senses?

Which elements of design did you use to inspire the lifestyle in Alegranza, and which design qualities harmonize Alegranza with Los Cabos? Today, competition is ferocious, innovation is a determinant factor. One must look for designs that offer more than the functional optimization of the spaces. In today’s awareness, we must plead to satisfy our senses. Alegranza’s slogan is “Designed for the senses”. Through the impressive views from above, 180 degrees to San José Bay from the mystic Punta Gorda, all the way to the emblematic Palmilla, going through the fresh Estuary, the owners at Alegranza enjoy beautiful sunrises from every one of the bedrooms in the development. Touch is another sense that we have tried to stimulate, using noble materials: Brazilian granite, marble from Durango, solid alder in closets, railings made of Canadian wood, natural- coloured walls, and fine, smooth and clean flats. This gives a sensation of simplicity and elegance at the same time. The natural breeze that is created through the units due to the design and the distribution of the big windows allows us to avoid the use of air conditioning practically all year. The silence, the tranquillity, and the privacy are very particular attributes. Even when there are 95 apartments, thanks to its constructive structure and that of the buildings, our guests can enjoy their units in total harmony and community.


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