Copyright © 2016 Roland Halbe

Copyright © 2016 Roland Halbe

In what is predicted to be the hottest fall on record, STRUKTR is excited to announce that New York and San Diego-based design firm, Studiohuerta, has unveiled their energy-passive building for Postgraduate Studies at the Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (CETYS University) in Meixcali, Mexico. Using innovative approaches to old-world design methods, Studiohuerta combines technique and technology in their dynamically sustainable postgraduate center located in Mexicali, Mexico’s extremely arid climate.

The Center boasts an interior designed to efficiently circulate air from the outermost classrooms and offices through hallways, and into the large, inner-most public areas where, as the air becomes heated by surrounding energy, it is released out through solar chimneys. This pre-Industrial technique commonly found in Middle Eastern countries, is a passive way of circulating air in hot climates, and effectively reduces the need for conventional, mechanized cooling systems. Though this practice is still common in pre-Industrial countries, in Mexico, solar chimneys are rare. “Because Mexico is a new country in many ways, it's predominantly industrial. Energy-passive design is still rare," says Gabriel Huerta, Owner and Principal of Studiohuerta. Huerta himself became familiar with solar chimney technology during his studies in Environmental Design at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, a program directed by esteemed environmental design expert, Javier Neila.

A veil of aluminum mesh covers the 47,000 square-foot (4,400-square-metre) building’s exterior, an initial protective layer against heat. Beneath this screen, the Center's two-foot thick walls help isolate interior and exterior temperatures, and also houses the building's requisite anti-seismic structure; a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck Mexicali in 2010, leading to rigorous updates of building codes in the region. The building’s numerous cube windows, “puncture, expand, and expose the solid walls like stones cast in a riverbed at varying depths,” says Huerta. The Center’s interior windows facilitate the flow of the heated air, without obstruction, into the inner-most public areas to be released out the building's solar chimney. Other, exterior-facing cubes create strategic vistas that enable the Center’s private spaces to interact with the rest of campus, particularly the University’s adjoining quad.

Studiohuerta is a multi-disciplinary design firm based in Brooklyn, New York and San Diego, California. Founded by Gabriel Huerta in 2011, the firm unites professionals from a diverse array of cultural and educational backgrounds in a commitment to sustainable techniques and design practices across architecture, urbanism, and environmental design.