The Aleph, Buenos Aires, Argentina


The Aleph is a new-build, multi-use development project in the cultural district of Puerto Madero Este in the docklands of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Designed by architects Foster and Partners, this is their first project in Latin America and is being developed in collaboration with the hotelier and cultural entrepreneur Alan Faena. Faena had earlier completed his Faena Hotel + Universe, which along with the new El Molino art museum will adjoin the Aleph.

The Aleph hotel will comprise live–work spaces and a new covered market square for events, as well as a 100-room hotel (phase II).

The Foster design includes elegant apartments with double-height living spaces, generous balconies and a façade composed of sliding screens, which fit in with the area's traditional architecture.

The $300m complex is scheduled to be ready in time for the celebrations of 200 years of Argentinean independence in 2010. The co-architects for the project are Berdichevsky-Cherny Arquitectos of Argentina.

The Aleph project

The Aleph project will include a series of three mixed-use residential schemes and will create a new waterside community with a generous open civic space at the centre, allowing residents to enjoy the art and culture on offer. The development will promote the traditional courtyard and open terrace and a style of outdoor living that will fit in with the local lifestyle and climate.

"The Aleph project will include a series of three mixed-use residential schemes."

There will also be a floating island clubhouse with a swimming pool and spa. In addition there will be a covered market square with a dockside frontage as the centrepiece of the new urban plaza. At street level, the landscaped area will be enriched by galleries, shops and cafés.

The first phase of the hotel opened in 2008. The design comprises a nine-storey apartment block with 57 apartments enclosing a landscaped courtyard.

The construction materials are bright and warm, with bronzed aluminium glazing and sun-screening, limestone flooring and an organic colour palette.

The dual-aspect apartments are light-filled and well ventilated, containing a combination of split-level sections with vaulted ceilings and double-height living areas. The external rooms are designed to blur the edges between outdoor and indoor living.

Design and purpose

The Aleph design, which is inspired by the architectural and cultural legacy of the Belle Époque era, will include typical elements of traditional Buenos Aires houses. The Aleph project will be the jewel in the crown for this new art district.

Construction began in June 2006. The building will have a floor space of 130,000m², of which 3,000m² will be occupied by a cultural centre for local and international artists. Like the rest of the district, the ground floor of the buildings will be used for commerce forming a retail precinct. The 204 apartments are likely to cost between £114,000 and £220,000.

The project will be constructed in three phases, beginning with the corner of Juana Tame and E Ezcurra, with a building of nine floors and followed (in phase II) by the cultural centre, which is in the form of two triangles united by the vertex (symbolising a sand clock), and flanked by two strips of houses of five storeys. The third phase, on dock 2, will include a third building with five storeys and will include the new 100-room hotel.

Faena Hotel + Universe

The luxury 105-room Faena Hotel + Universe was built reusing the massive red brick-built grain elevator on the Puerto Madero Este waterfront, which was constructed from imported Manchester bricks. The hotel was developed by Argentinean fashion designer Alan Faena in conjunction with designer Philippe Starck.

"The decor is typical of Starck: white with an airy minimalism."

The hotel decor is typical of Starck: guestrooms are white with an airy minimalism and the public spaces of the interior in black marble and red velvet in an imperial style. The rooms are packed with technological gadgets, from flat-screen TVs and automated curtains to wireless room phones that work throughout the Faena Universe. Ensuite bathrooms have claw-footed baths, glass walls and red velvet curtains.

The facilities comprise two restaurants, a spa and swimming pool (complete with poolside bar). There are also some unexpected extras including an art gallery and a gourmet market. In addition, the 'School of Fine Living' offers classes on dance, cooking and wine, as well as the red velvet-decorated Cabaret, which is an old-fashioned music hall / nightclub where guests can enjoy champagne, cigars and live entertainment.

Hotel facilities

The hotel's Bistro has a typical Starck design of white with red accents and unicorn heads mounted on the walls. The restaurant serves an international cuisine with large amounts of Argentine beef.

Adjoining the hotel is a Faena apartment block called El Porteño with 80 private residences, where an on-site letting and management service is offered for overseas buyers. Flats range from 50m² to 300m² (540-3,300ft²) and cost between £110,000 and £600,000. There are also 20 private residences.

The facilities of the Universe include The Library Lounge, which has a woodburning fire and over 500 works of literature in the library for guest use. El Mercado is a cantina / market restaurant that provides natural food products and seasonal fruits, using old recipes cooked in mud-brick ovens.

"The red velvet-decorated Cabaret is an old-fashioned music hall / nightclub."

La Piscina is the pool area with a terrace where guests can relax. La Boutique is an upmarket retail area within the hotel complex.

El Academy is a multifunctional space that is also home to LEA (The Experimental Art Laboratory) and the School of Fine Living.

The hotel's business centre provides secretaries, computer technology and two meeting rooms with space for over 40 people.

El Spa includes a gym, relaxing Turkish baths and beauty treatments with products by La Prairie and personal trainers and nutrition specialists. The Spa also provides classes in gym, pilates and yoga and also beauty treatments with La Prairie products. Private saunas and rooms are available for dual massage.