For an up-and-coming architect, Derek Dellekamp is in an enviable position, by many measures. Based in Mexico City, he has been recognized internationally for his work and wins commissions for trendy bars, high-end apartments, and luxury hotel extensions. But Dellekamp continues to explore new directions for the practice he founded in 1999. Looking for deeper meaning in his work, he has increasingly focused on the shortage of quality affordable housing across the country. “The speed at which big developers build in Mexico is frightening,” he says, likening the phenomenon to a factory that churns out buildings “one after the other.”
His most ambitious design, a 1,200-unit social-housing complex just outside the town of Tlacolula in the state of Oaxaca, has drawn attention and accolades for its sensitivity to the local climate and culture. Despite the buzz, the project has been stalled for over two years because of zoning issues, but it may soon have a second life. This winter, for the first time, the local government gave the project its OK to proceed once a wastewater-treatment program is in place.