DESNIVEL: From Merida to the World

In Architecture & Design, Play, Yucatán by Ali Madrazo

Merida is one of the fastest growing cities in Mexico and its architectural development is no exception. There are young and brilliant firms whose projects show the great talent that exists in this city located in the state of Yucatan, but there is one in particular that we love for having a fresh and purposeful mindset, with personalized, functional and aesthetic projects that provoke emotions and feelings in people: Desnivel. We had the opportunity to talk with its creator Ariel Canto, who told us about this architectural firm, which already has an extensive portfolio with spectacular residences, fascinating offices and more.

What is Desnivel?

We are a creative, flexible and dynamic firm that places the person at the center of our design process. Their needs, personality and lifestyle are a reflection of the space they inhabit. Each project is based on the plurality generated by the collaborative work of the imagination. Creativity is based on the various possibilities that exist to solve a problem and it is these multiple visions that lead us to unexpected results.

Creativity can be stretched as far as ingenuity allows; it is abstract and doesn´t have a definite shape, it is not right or wrong, it is a free manifestation of the intellect and when it is limited it tends to fade away.

Who is Ariel Canto?

Born and raised in 1986 in Merida, Yucatan. I am not Desnivel, I am only a part of it, an Architect in constant search for improvement, to expand creativity. Always looking for solutions even when things are already solved. Methodical without knowing whether for better or for worse. The architect has to know about everything, football, culture, medicine, music, you have to travel, you have to eat, taste flavors, get to different hotels, walk the cities, feel at scale, never be still. Every project is in one way or another related to other disciplines. The architect cannot lose himself in his ego because he loses all the sense of architecture. The architect is a means to an end, it shapes the ideas. I seek to make living spaces, spaces where people feel comfortable and happy, that is my personal satisfaction, that is what I want to transmit in Desnivel. One of my favorite phrases says that “Architecture is the most important thing of the least important things”. 

How would you define Desnivel´s style and how is it possible to integrate with the personal style of the clients?

It is difficult for us to define our style ourselves. I think that more than style, in Desnivel we prioritize what the client is looking for; analyzing it and listening to it in detail is a determining factor in the final result of the project. We constantly focus on the search for spatial wealth. The fact that customers trust us fully gives us tools to propose ideas that we materialize together with them.

What is your creative process?

Normally before starting any project we do some sort of investigation of related spaces with the characteristics of what our client is looking for, this allows us to generate a brainstorm that gives us an important guideline to start the project, always working together hand by hand; thereafter, we enter a constant phase of round-trip proposals. It is always mentioned that the architect-client relationship is like a marital relationship, and in part it is. People think that architects do everything, but the client’s contribution in the process is essential. Your doubt, your questioning, your contribution; it helps us to feedback many of the ideas we have, this is the most important part of the creative process. Once the foundation is well-founded, what is missing is only to develop and translate it to consolidate a buildable project.

What inspires you?

To achieve the materialization of our projects, to see how an idea is transformed into a living space in which people live, enjoy, show off to their friends the personal and economic effort they made, the sacrifices; everything is worth it when the customer is happy.

Can you tell us about the projects that you liked the most or were the most challenging? 

We believe that the intention of any Architect or Architectural office is to achieve their projects. Sitpach house is one of the projects that we liked the most because we participated from the time the land was acquired to the last stone in the work. It was a process of almost 3 years, where the client, despite our inexperience in many aspects because we were starting with the office, gave us full confidence to carry out the entire project. It was a lesson in which we made mistakes, we looked for solutions, we learned, the client learned, he was always very understanding. Years after we made the house; we keep coming back and we see how it is a project that has improved over time and the client drastically changed his life by going to live there. It has been very enriching for us.

What do you like most about being located in Merida and how does this relate to your way of doing Architecture?

We take advantage of being in a place that has exponential growth and we use it for a common good. It is a double-edged sword because the growth of the city opens a market niche in which everyone wants to participate and sometimes when only the economic factor is the one that predominates, there is no contribution to society. We want to contribute for the city and make usable projects that contribute in all possible aspects to improve Merida´s landscape. We have the advantage that the location of our city is privileged in proximity to important beaches and ruins, which have greatly increased tourism and investment, we are only looking for that investment to contribute what it can to the community.

What are your short and long term goals? 

Without sounding conformist, I think we are at a very good point of collective office growth. We have a fairly dedicated and structured team and we want to keep the office as we are now. We are 16 architects, all with different characteristics, who each contribute their talent, and we do not want to go beyond this number of people. The intention is to host larger projects but without increasing our staff, this allows us to have the level of detail and monitoring that we want per project. The goals, both short and long term, are to continue making architecture regardless of the magnitude of the project; the client is always the most important.

What is your vision on Mexican Architecture? 

We have seen significant growth in recent years. I think Mexico is in a focal point worldwide, architecture is proliferating admirably and if we continue this way, we will have more attention than there is today. With social networks and good architecture work we believe that good years are coming for Mexico thanks to the fact that new emerging talents have a world view of trends and are no longer satisfied with tradition, seeking to leave their mark on time. Architecture in media will highlight Mexico as world power. 

Sitpach House
Sitpach House

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