The Architectural League’s 31st annual Emerging Voices Award brings a focus to creative practices that will influence the future direction of architecture. Each of the eight firms will deliver a lecture this month in Manhattan. The next lecture takes place on Thursday, March 28 at 7:00 p.m. when Cao | Perrot Studio and Productora will present their work.
The four partners of Mexico City-based Productora hail from Argentina, Belgium, and Mexico. They have channeled their diverse backgrounds into a cohesive and action-oriented approach that leans on tradition, but is far from old-fashioned. The firm is less concerned with what partner Wonne Ickx described as “continuous innovation” and creating “new paradigms” and more interested in “building a common vocabulary” and “using the materials and skills that we have on hand on a more conceptual level.”
Since Productora was founded in 2006, the firm has grown to a staff of 15 and has tackled a number of projects in Mexico and abroad, ranging from residences and institutional buildings to restaurants and corporate headquarters. Regardless of the type of project, the methodology has remained consistent.
“We try to resolve our architecture with the [fewest] possible gestures,” said Ickx. “It can take us some time to hit the nail on the head, but we always try to find one single solution to solve many problems of a project.”
Paul Czitrom; Rafael Gamo
A recent commission to design a textile museum in a town near Oaxaca in southern Mexico called for the same conceptual clarity that has been the backbone of Productora’s work. The firm first looked at what critical facilities were missing in the area, then designed a building to fill those specific community needs. The museum will provide not only exhibition space but also house a small library, a covered open-air meeting area, public toilets, and a multi-functional room for town musicians.
The firm reinterpreted the “town typology,” creating a sloped roof on the museum and tapping in to the natural resources and materials at its disposal—using wood, stone, and primitive brick ovens as the “basic ingredients” of the building.
“We try to create a certain integration into the urban texture, but at the same time, through scale, orientation, and proportion, we create a very singular and specific element that stands out. We are really interested in simple and strong geometries,” said Ickx.
Dedicated to cultivating new talent in Latin America, Productora also co-founded LIGA, space for architecture, in Mexico City, with curator Ruth Estevez in 2011. LIGA serves not only as an exhibition space but also a forum for emerging architects to discuss ideas about architectural practices in South and Central America.
The project is a natural extension of Productura’s own ethos, which is most successful when there is a “clash between our own personal interests,” said Ickx. “If we bring this [clash] in contrast to a given site and budget, something interesting comes out.”