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Sound urban design principles are applied to this project: a pedestrian mall in the core of the new development, that connects the two parking areas where most of the units are located, provide density and a good sense of community.  Other housing units are located on the periphery, facing the existing streets, to integrate the new project to the existing urban pattern.  Other units are facing the views to the river, or to the play areas, to provide supervision and security to the public spaces.  A pedestrian route on the southeastern periphery of the site will help connect other sectors of the community to the existing athletic facilities that will also be improved at a latter date.


Construction cost is estimated in $ 2,500,000.


Zambrana Housing
Coamo, Puerto Rico




This housing project has been designed as part of the first phase of the implementation of the Development Plan for Comunidad Zambrana, that also include other housing, service and social infrastructure improvements projects. The Plan was developed under the Special Communities Program.  


An existing (partially) vacant lot,  (previously used for a sanitary sewer plant), combined with ten housing units in decay,  identified in the study,  form the new land parcel.  The new lot is developed so that a new Head Start Day Care Center (by others), is combined with 26 new townhouses, public spaces, children play areas and 37 new parking spaces.


All housing units are two story,  distributed as follows: 


  • 19  ea.   (3 BR) two story townhouse units; 

  • 2  ea.   (1BR-HCP) units on 1st floor 

  • 2  ea.   (1BR) units on 2nd floor 

  • 3 ea. (4BR) Two stories townhouses units w/ facilities for the handicapped on the first level.



All units have a covered balcony abutting the pedestrian mall, the street; the children’s play area or the views to the river (dominant element in the typology of the existing housing units). Living spaces, located on the first level integrate to each other creating a larger, flexible space. Kitchens have views to the backyard, and (thru the living room and balcony) to the front of the house. All spaces are cross ventilated.







Amarillo Court 
San Juan, Puerto Rico




Located in the periphery of the city,  a gently sloping site of only 1700 square meters is developed to accommodate 12 walk-up apartments.  The site, defined by two local streets, is structured in three terraces,  using the higher level for parking,  the intermediate for the structure and the lower for the common facilities and a lap pool. 


The building is organized in four floors,  each containing three apartments.  Two apartments at each level share an entrance and stairway,  while the other four are served through a different access and stairway. 


Each apartment has living,  dining,  kitchen,  family room,  terrace or balcony,  laundry closet,  a master bedroom with a walk in closet and private bathroom,  and two additional bedrooms that share a bathroom.  Spatialy however the unit is far more than the sum of its spaces:


  • The living room and the master bedroom open to the terrace or balcony;

  • The kitchen opens to the living-dining area on one side and the family room on the other, allowing a spatial continuom between all these spaces.

  • The laundry closet is comfortably related to the kitchen area,  but separated enough to allow each facility to function properly.

  • Comunal facilities include a covered terrace,  office,  maintenance closets,  and additional storage space for each unit. 






 Two units shelter the monumental stairs and become the “Governor’s Villa”) during the games. 


A terrace above the apartments provide commanding views of the central area. Landscaping will be intense, using native species, while creating enjoyable spaces and environs.   


Other ancillary facilities are the Community Club House with administrative offices, coin laundry facilities, a gym, meeting rooms,  lounge, maintenance sheds and recreational facilities. Budget for the project is $84,000,000. 


Sustainable measures considered in the design, included among others, the use of local plant materials to promote adaptability and reduce the need for irrigation, percolating pavements in the roads and parking areas,  reflective materials on the apartment roofs, and photovoltaic panels for public illumination. A water retention tank was provided to regulate the impact of excess rainwater into the natural systems.


Villa Centroamericana
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico




This project has the additional requirement of addressing two different programs at the same time, as suggested by the title. It was awarded through a competition to our team headed by Picerne Development Properties (developer), CSA Group (Project A&E) and ourselves (Consulting Architects in charge of design).


The solution divides the program in two areas responding to the topographic characteristics of the site, with the International Zone (i.e. shopping center, which is discussed under a different presentation) in the lower portion of the site, adjacent to the main access road, and the housing units in the higher plateau.


The housing component is developed using 3Br/2B units in a walk-up/walk-down typology, six stories high, served by a spatially articulated stair for each 10 units. Buildings are organized in a concentric ring pattern to maximize land utilization, bring closer the parking facilities, and to concentrate open land on a highly supervised central courtyard. Due to the grading differentials, the parking areas are sloped at 5% inclination, causing the building modules to step accordingly. 


All units are design for crossed ventilation and natural lighting, with the living room, balcony and two bedrooms facing the courtyard. Residential building façades have been designed, by liberally alternating the shape and location of the windows and closet volumes, to create variety and interest. Through the use of texture, color and the shading devices, further interest and dynamism is incorporated to the character of the housing complex.


The central courtyard accommodates passive recreation, playgrounds, gazebos and a water fountain, all accessible. To the west of the courtyard, a monumental stair with green areas connects the courtyard to the parking areas. 







  The parking level relates horizontaly to the second level of apartments. Apartments on each level,  provide different options for the market: 


  • First level unit: larger terrace and patio;

  • Second level unit: same-level access to parking;

  • Third level units: larger living areas and master bedrooms;

  • Fourth level units: larger living areas and bedrooms (all),  with private roof top terrace.



The second level provides two additional bedrooms with cross ventilation and views to the outside, east and west;  bathroom, linen closet and an open area above the living room. This space can be closed at a latter date to provide a fourth bedroom.  


By locating the corridors to the west, a greater possibility for future expansion, is achieved.   A covered terrace on the first level and additional rooms on the second level,  are possible. 


The units are of limited dimensions but spatially large, due to the visual expansion and the openness of the plan to the outside. The architectural expression is modest, simple, well proportioned; dignified and elegant.  



Isabela Housing
Isabela, Puerto Rico 




The site,  located in a rural community  (Arenales Bajos ward) has a flat topography,  a limited frontage and a greater depth.  All infrastructure services are available, except for sanitary sewer, making this condition the limiting criteria for the development.  After conducting percolation tests, a maximum capacity for three septic tank drainage fields and three housing units was determined. 


To intensify the potential use of the land (rural markets show greater preferences for  larger lot sizes) the parking spaces were located perpendicular to the road,  with trash and recycling collectors accessible,  on the southeastern corner.  Mailboxes were located to the southeastern corner, close to the access pathway. The units were organized along the eastern site boundary, displaced to mark their individuality,  although they are technically,  row houses,  because they are built abutting two lot boundaries. The displacement creates a triangular shape front patio for each unit, while concentrating most of their lot surface to the west.


Each unit is an individual building, two stories high, twelve feet wide and forty-four feet long.  This linear organization provides all the spaces with access to a front and backyard, natural lighting and a perfect cross ventilation. First level contains the living, dining, kitchen, bathroom and one bedroom.  Living and dining open to the entrance balcony on the east and a terrace to the west.  Kitchen opens to the service yard (laundry facilities) on the east and the terrace to the west.  The bedroom opens to patios on both sides.




Villalba Affordable Housing
Villalba, Puerto Rico 




The project is developed in a 6159 s.m. parcel  accesible through PR #149,  the main access road to Villaba, and PR #514. Is located at ± 1.35 milles from the town plaza.  


The site is defined by a densely vegetated 13 meters high enbankment to the south and southwest, above PR #149.  PR# 514, defines the western side of property,  while a PREPA easment borders on the northwest and Las Alondras Development to the north.


Due to the existence of inadequate soil deposits on the site,  we decided to remove 4 meters of that fill, to create a plateau where the new project will be developed.


The project Site Plan,  locates the 24 units on two buildings, each having 6 units in three levels, served by a common stair.  These buildings frame an triangular interior space,  defined in the other side by the wooded enbankment.  Within this space we provide social spaces: plazas, benches, a play area for kids,  and a covered pavillion in the center, “floating “ over a landscapped retention pond for rainwater management. 


The dwellings are oriented towards this central area, providing constant social supervision of the grounds.  Extensive planting in

the slopes and along the interior plaza reinforce the spatial quality of the complex, and provide shade for the benches and the social areas.  


The entrance to the site is from PR #154.  To the north of the entrance is the parking area (24 spaces + 2 additional for the handiccapped). By removing the parking from the central area, we made the social spaces possible. 


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