Built to increase the sports facilities in the town of Cárdenas in the southern state of Tabasco, the Cañales complex contains a covered basketball court as well as a soccer field, skatepark, playground and outdoor gym.
“The neighbourhood was born in the ’90s, with a deficit of cultural and sports spaces,” explained Mexico City-based studio Quintanilla Arquitectos.
“This space has always been planned, but it has not been built until now, so it is the first time that the inhabitants have a complex of these characteristics.”
At the centre of the complex, which was commissioned by the Mexican Secretariat for Agrarian, Land and Urban Development (SEDATU), is a long double-height steel-and-concrete structure.
The structure covers a basketball court, as well as a multi-purpose sports court and a small plaza. A small brick structure under the canopy contains a small office and restrooms for users of the complex.
In addition to the shade provided by the canopy, the architecture studio included new trees at the periphery of the space that help offset the region’s typical high temperatures.
“In a region of extreme heat and sun, shade is essential for the practice of indoor sports, in addition to ensuring thermal comfort,” said the architecture studio.
“The project integrates the shade of trees as natural cover to provide shaded areas for enjoyment and coexistence.”
Alongside the sports facilities, Quintanilla Arquitectos created flexible meeting space for residents, as the site was formerly used for informal gatherings by the town’s residents.
“The spaces serve [the purpose] they were intended for, but also for what the population will use them for,” said the studio.
“The city is a place where young people should feel welcomed, protected and cared for,” it continued. “Public spaces should encourage the creation of family and social ties that allow for this.”
Durability was a primary concern for the design, which led the architecture studio to use materials that require practically no maintenance and are available locally.
“[We chose] materials with the future in focus, without finishes, and that reduce maintenance in the long term, taking into account the availability of materials in the region,” said Quintanilla Arquitectos.
The surrounding streets are prone to flooding, so the architecture studio also raised the central shade platform slightly above the surrounding park. This way, in case of high waters, the perimeter of the park may flood, while leaving the covered portion dry.
Quintanilla Arquitectos was founded in 1977 by architect Alejandro Quintanilla Macias. His son, Alejandro Quintanilla Orvañanos, now leads the firm, and was the principal architect of the Cañales park project.
Architects Rozana Montiel and Alvin V Wallach have revitalised another public space in Mexico through a similar intervention, by building a large shade canopy over a park in Veracruz.
Other park designs include a scheme for a “binational” park on the US-Mexico border by Overland Partners and a park in Denmark that is dotted with play structures made of marble blocks and slabs.
The photography is by Onnis Luque.
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