Virtual reality is often an individual experience, with one user shaping and traversing a preprogrammed digital realm. But what if complete strangers could gather together within the virtual realm to construct an architectural edifice? Project Correl is an experiment by the Zaha Hadid Virtual Reality Group (ZHVR) in what it describes as “multi-presence virtual reality,” where users can collaborate on an ever-changing sculptural form. Project Correl is a feature of the larger Design as Second Nature exhibition found in Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), which features photographs, paintings, models, and other mediums highlighting the firm’s in-house technological research. As part of the exhibition, Zaha Hadid Architects’ Computation and Design group collaborated with ETH Zurich to create a 13-foot-tall curved concrete shell formed with a 3-D-knitted framework, dubbed KnitCandela. The VR experiment allows up to four visitors at a time to roam a digital space and manipulate objects found within. The overarching objective for the participants is the collaborative construction of a virtual structure. Over the course of the three-month-long exhibition, successive waves of visitors will immerse themselves in the continually adapting construct, imprinting it with their own personal elements along the way. Collaboration between participants is encouraged by the program's software; components directly attached to the primary structure within the simulation will remain throughout the course of the experiment. Stand-alone objects must be connected to growing clusters of user-assembled edifices to last throughout the exhibition. Objects that remain solitary will be periodically eliminated from the virtual space. Throughout the running of Project Correl, ZHVR will capture the altering iterations of the experiment and 3-D-print models for display within the exhibition. To create and operate the virtual reality engine, ZHVR worked with Unreal Engine, HP Virtual Reality Solutions, and HTC VIVE. The latter is a novel virtual reality platform allowing for in-depth room-scale, real-time interactions. Project Correl and Design as Second Nature will be on display until March 3, 2019.
Posts tagged with "Mexico City":
As part of an effort to fulfill campaign promises of rooting out corruption and re-inviting the public to participate in the country’s electoral politics, Mexico’s new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, threw open the gates of the nation’s secretive presidential palace for the first time in over 80 years. Dubbed by some as the “Mexican Bernie Sanders” for his Leftist bona fides and populist messaging, Obrador—who is known colloquially by his initials as AMLO—invited the public to enjoy the 5,000-square-foot home and its expansive grounds amid inaugural celebrations over the weekend. The move is among the new Mexican president’s first official acts and includes converting the Bosque de Chapultepec–adjacent palace into a museum and cultural complex that will be free to the public. Plans call for converting an existing movie screening area in the palace into a community arts space, for example. AMLO has referred to the palace as a “haunted” place in the past and has vowed to continue living in his current home through 2019 when one of his young children will finish the current school year. The palace dates back to 1550 when it was built as a colonia-era flour mill and has been used as the official presidential residence since the 1930s. During its history, the residence has largely remained hidden from public view but under Mexico’s new regime, the public is finally getting a first-hand look. https://twitter.com/gobiernomx/status/1069378866441990145?s=21 But that’s not all. AMLO also plans to sell the nation’s presidential Boeing 787 Dreamliner airplane and has vowed to fly commercial for official trips. A government-sponsored Twitter account posted a sale notice for the “seminuevo” jet over the weekend, though a price was not listed. Keep an eye out on Mexico City’s controversial and recently-canceled airport by Foster + Partners. Rumors began flying online over the weekend regarding whether the project—which is roughly 1/3 of the way built—was officially canceled or not. As Mexico begins the difficult process of paying back the investors who have already sunk money into the project ahead of an ambitious public and private-public works effort by AMLO, there will likely be more news on the airport and its fate.
Located in Mexico City’s Museo Universitario Arte Contemporaneo, KnitCandela is a 13-foot-tall curved concrete shell formed with a 3-D-knitted framework. The sculptural project is a collaboration between Zaha Hadid Architects' Computation and Design Group (ZHCODE), ETH Zurich’s Block Research Group (BRG) led by Philippe Block and Tom Van Mele with PhD student Mariana Popescu, and Mexico’s Architecture Extrapolated who managed the on-site execution of the project. Named in homage to the concrete-bending designs of architect and structural engineer Félix Candela, the pavilion rests on three parabolic arches, with interior threadwork fashioned to resemble traditional garb found in the federal state of Jalisco, 340 miles northwest of the country’s capital. The pavilion is an outdoor feature of the museum's new exhibition, Design as Second Nature, featuring four decades of Zaha Hadid Architects' (ZHA) research into construction technology and design innovation. The project builds upon ETH Zurich's numerous recent forays into lightweight concrete structures based on curved geometries and digitally designed formwork. Currently, the university is leading KnitCrete, a partnership with the Swiss National Centre for Competence in Research in Digital Fabrication, to boost the technological expertise and production of hybrid and ultra-lightweight concrete structures. Past projects include an experimental concrete roof cast on 3-D printed sand formwork and an ultralight roof cap composed of a polymer textile and a network of steel cables. According to ETH Zurich, Block and Van Mele’s research group plugged a digitally generated pattern into an industrial knitting machine to produce the formwork. Over the course of 36 hours, the flat-bedded mechanism knitted over 200 miles of polyester yarn into four 3-D double-layered strips. To suspend the canopy, the upper layer of the textile bears a series of sleeves for the insertion of supporting cables. Additionally, the woven formwork integrated 1,000 inflatable modeling balloons that were transformed into waffle shell-like voids following the initial coating of concrete. The entire woven assembly, weighing a meager 55 pounds, was transported to the location via two suitcases stowed as normal checked baggage. Once onsite, the double-layered textile was tensioned between a steel-and-wood boundary frame and subjected to an initial millimeters-thick concrete coating. After hardening and the creation of a lightweight mold, the team poured five tons of fiber-reinforced concrete over the original 120-pound polyester-and-cable framework. The pavilion will remain in place until March 3, 2019.
Mexico City’s new Foster + Partners–designed airport has been canceled while already under construction. In a referendum today voters rejected the partially completed project that’s been beleaguered by accusations of corruption, ecological irresponsibility, and lack of community involvement. The referendum was originally proposed by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, as popular opposition grew against the project that was approved by President Enrique Peña Nieto in 2014. Not only was the project, called NAICM (Nuevo Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México), deemed inordinately expensive at an estimated USD$13 billion, its location was less than ideal. The wetland plain of Texcoco outside the city that it was to be built on is quite literally sinking—as much as 16 inches a year. Not only does building the airport require thick supports, like much of Mexico City, which was built on former lakes dredged by the colonizing Spaniards five centuries ago, but it the area accommodates stormwater runoff for the city, requiring a complicated and expensive system of plumbing, tunnels, and canals to manage potential flooding. Furthering the environmental infeasibility is the impact it would have had on numerous bird species as well as its effect of exacerbating the decline of the city’s already dwindling water supplies. As Fernando Córdova, a professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico told Alto Nivel as later reported in translation in Citylab: “It’s just the worst terrain.” USD$5 billion has already been put into the airport, which was designed to handle the ever-increasing traffic through North America’s most populous city, which also serves as a travel hub for much of the rest of Mexico and Latin America. The mega-project, which would’ve been the third largest airport in the world and the most expansive in all of the Americas, was noteworthy for its six million square-foot main terminal designed in a sci-fi X-shape with a sweeping canopy. The no vote won by a large margin, with 70 percent voting in opposition of completing the project, though, as others have noted, voter turnout for the referendum was underwhelming, with only around 1 in 90 registered voters turning out to the polls. Those opposed argued that the project was being built and developed by contractors and other parties as a series of political favors to line each other’s pockets. Still, regardless of the fate of NAICM, Mexico City needs a new airport. The current main airport, Benito Juárez International, is operating 50 percent over capacity and the strain on it is only growing. López Obrador and others have supported a significantly cheaper project that uses existing infrastructure by converting part of the Santa Lucía air force base into a commercial terminal. As for the thwarted Foster + Projects design, it was reported in The Washington Post that López Obrador suggested turning the remains of the unfinished airport into “a big sports and ecological center for Mexico City.”
As part of the 10th edition of Design Week Mexico, happening now through October 28, Mexico City’s Museo Tamayo is hosting the INÉDITO exhibition, which highlights the work of emerging design practices across Mexico. In its fourth iteration, the show includes 80 design pieces ranging from jewelry and fashion to flatware and furniture. Across the wide range of products in the show, there are a few common threads that run through much work. In many of the pieces, fine hand-crafted detailing and rich natural materials are used to great effect. The jewelry of fourth-generation craftsman Iker Ortiz uses marbled Corian and gold, and Mexico City–based jewelry studio María Mariscal collaborated with Taller de Obsidiana using fine gold plating to expand its work into a full set of dining flatware. The level of detail continues through to larger pieces in the show as well. Furniture pieces by both LANZA Atelier and Claudia Suarez Ahedo both deploy smooth filleted forms in wood and aluminum. LANZA Atelier, which primarily practices as an architecture firm, produced a two-person nesting set of chairs and a table for the exhibition. Entitled Tête à tête, the piece is made of neatly joined banak wood and MDF, and when closed, forms a single smooth compact unit. The chair produced by Milan, Italy–based Mexican architect, Claudia Suarez Ahedo, is inspired by the strength and sensibility of Mexican women. Aluminum was chosen for its strength and flexibility, while the light desaturated salmon color was chosen to complement the smooth form. Along with the showcase of work, awards were announced in a number of categories. Taking the top award was Alejandro Martínez Jaime, with his project Recybloq, which transforms construction waste into new building blocks. For the exhibition, the up-cycled parallelogram blocks are arranged into a small vaulted pavilion. Each year Design Week Mexico has grown as more institutions and the public have joined in on the events. The opening ceremonies for this year’s events, also held at Museo Tamayo, attracted thousands. Other venues include the neighboring Museo Nacional de Antropología, where contemporary works directly influenced by traditional Mexican craft were on display. Throughout the city, design galleries and showrooms also took part with special events and displays. On top of that, Mexico City has been named the 2018 World Design Capital by UNESCO. The level of engagement points to a healthy design community in Mexico City with a bright future.
Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. –Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” –Drew Zieba
Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the president-elect of Mexico, recently announced that the fate of the new Mexico City airport designed by Foster + Partners will be decided by a public referendum to be held in October of this year. Mexican citizens will be able to decide in a vote whether or not the airport should be canceled. López Obrador, or AMLO as he is also known, led a fiery campaign for president. He trumpeted leftist and populists messages while attacking corruption that he said was endemic in the Mexican government. The New Mexico City International Airport (NAICM) was, he said, mismanaged and marked by excessive and wasteful spending, and he promised to shut down the project if elected. López Obrador has proposed that an existing military airbase be converted to civilian use instead of completing construction on the new airport. The vote is scheduled for the last week of October even though López Obrador will not formally take office until December 1 of this year. The project, which was won by Foster + Partners in 2014, is well under construction, and stopping it now would mean losing about US$5 billion already spent. The project is estimated to cost US$13 billion in total, and its first phase has been scheduled to open in 2020. Foster + Partners' design features a massive undulating canopy with an exposed space frame underneath. In renderings, the roof surface allows dappled light to come through large open spans between large footings where the canopy touches down to the ground. Arup is the project's structural engineer, Mexican firm fr-ee is the local collaborating architect, and Grupo de Diseno Urbano is the landscape architect. The airport is planned to handle 66 million passengers annually and cover an area of approximately eight million square feet.
ACADIA, or the Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture, established the ACADIA Awards of Excellence to recognize outstanding individuals and practices that think critically about the impact and possibilities of computer-aided design. This year, the ACADIA Awards recipients, including Mónica Ponce de León and Oyler Wu Collaborative, will present their work at the conference titled Recalibration: On Imprecision and Infidelity at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City from October 18–20. Dean of Princeton University School of Architecture Mónica Ponce de León won the Teaching Award of Excellence. Ponce de León is a Venezuelan-American architect who is also a renowned educator. She is the founding principal of MPdL Studio, which has officesin New York, Boston, and Ann Arbor. Prior to her deanship at Princeton, she was dean of University of Michigan’s Taubman College and a professor at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). The awards committee commended her for the “integration of digital technologies into architectural education.” Jenny Wu and Dwayne Oyler, partners at Oyler Wu Collaborative, were awarded with the Digital Practice Award of Excellence. The L.A.-based, award-winning firm is widely recognized for its expertise in material research and digital fabrication. The firm is known for projects such as The Exchange in Columbus, IN, the 2013 Beijing Biennale installation named The Cube, and their installations and pavilions with SCI-Arc. The partners are both currently teaching at SCI-Arc and Harvard GSD. Other awards included the Innovative Academic Program Award of Excellence, given to the Institute of Advanced Architecture Catalonia; the Innovative Research Award of Excellence bestowed upon NVIDIA robotics researcher Dr. Madeline Gannon; and the Society Award of Excellence won by Association for Robots in Architecture co-founders Sigrid Brell-Cokcan and Johannes Braumann. Check out the complete list of winners here.
The 2018 Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London, is now complete, and Mexico City-based Frida Escobedo’s open-air installation wears its references to residential Mexican architecture on its lattice. Escobedo, the youngest architect to take on the project and the first woman to do so since 2000, took cues from London’s historical materiality to reinterpret features more commonly found in Mexico’s domestic architecture. The pavilion uses a modern reinterpretation of the celosia (a perforated wall that lets in light and air) built from cement roofing tiles, to enclose a concrete courtyard. From the final photos, it appears that stacking the roof tiles have also given the walls a rolling, knit-like quality. The interplay between light and shadow and its use in denoting the passage of time, such as sunlight filtering through the darkly-tiled walls, had a major influence on Escobedo’s design. “The design for the Serpentine Pavilion 2018 is a meeting of material and historical inspirations inseparable from the city of London itself and an idea which has been central to our practice from the beginning: the expression of time in architecture through inventive use of everyday materials and simple forms,” said Escodebo in a statement. “For the Serpentine Pavilion, we have added the materials of light and shadow, reflection and refraction, turning the building into a timepiece that charts the passage of the day.” Inside, a curved canopy decked out in mirror panels hangs over the structure to both shade and reflect visitors, while a slice of shallow water on the ground reflects the scene overhead. Guests are invited to wade into the pool and cool off while their movements are echoed on the canopy above. Visitors can experience a “new” pavilion every day, as the sun’s daily movement should theoretically create a new lighting condition every day of the summer. The Serpentine Pavilion is located on the grounds of the Serpentine Gallery and will open to the public on June 15, then run through October 7, 2018. The pavilion will host a café for the duration, and will be used to stage Park Nights, the gallery's experimental and interdisciplinary art and architecture lectures and performances on certain Friday evenings.
Construction is set to begin on Reforma 432, a Foster + Partners-designed skyscraper in the heart of Mexico City that’s been snared by setbacks since 2011. According to a 2014 Foster + Partners description that pegged the tower at 866 feet tall, the Reforma 432 will dwarf the city’s current tallest building, the 807-foot-tall Torre Reforma. As first reported by Mexico News Daily, Mexican developer Abilia recently released a statement revealing that construction on Reforma 432 would begin soon and that the mixed-use tower would be split between luxury office space and commercial use. It’s certainly not an even split, with nearly 280,000 square feet set aside for offices and the remaining 20,000 square feet dedicated towards retail. Abilia’s owner, the billionaire businesswoman María Asunción Aramburuzabala, also announced that the updated scheme would be 57 stories tall, three more than Foster + Partners had originally described. Reforma 432 was first proposed in 2011 as the Sky Tower under developer Grupo Elipse, but seemed to have stalled out indefinitely until Aramburuzabala stepped in to take over the project. Located at the intersections between Paseo de La Reforma and Avenida Sevilla, Reforma 432 will sit on an L-shaped site directly opposite La Diana fountain, a city monument. Foster’s design for the tower is heavily striated, and two central vertical bands will run up the western and eastern sides of the facade. The building’s core will be set back towards the smaller portion of the L shaped-site, increasing the size of the floor plates in the larger section of the site. From the renderings, it also appears that the tower will carve out a story for communal outdoor space in the middle of the office floors. Covered, cantilevering terraces jutting from Reforma 432’s first four stories will hold retail components, restaurants, and cafes, while a bank, drop-off area, and entrances to both the offices and the commercial areas will be on the ground floor. This area will be intentionally left open as a publicly accessible plaza that bleeds into the surrounding streetscape. Foster + Partners is no stranger to building in Mexico City, as the British firm has teamed up with Mexican architect Fernando Romero to tackle the city’s new $9.2 billion airport, currently under construction. No start or completion dates for Reforma 432 have been announced as of yet.
How do you rebuild after a natural disaster? This question was the call to action at the fifth edition of the MEXTRÓPOLI Festival of Architecture and City that took place March 17 to 20. The four-day city-wide event was presented as an active reflection to rebuild since last September’s major earthquake that struck central Mexico. Coincidently marking the 32nd anniversary of the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, the natural disaster in September last year hit hard on the same day three decades prior–at least 40 buildings collapsed, wreaking havoc in the Mexican states of Puebla, Morelos, and in the Greater Mexico City area. At MEXTRÓPOLI, temporary built environments activated Mexico City’s public spaces to promote reflection of those events and fuel sustainable future building. Twenty pavilions designed by institutions such as UNAM, Ibero Puebla, Anahuac University, Querétaro, Sci-Arc, and Maristas took up at Alameda Central, the oldest public park in the Americas located downtown, adjacent to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The goal? To inspire sustainable and preventative practices, and to demonstrate potential sustainable architectural futures. Architect Elias Kababie, Taller Paralelo Arquitectura, Michigan Architecture, and students from Colectivo Seis collaborated to design Pabellón ( ), a brick pavilion, with financial support from Masonite. The ephemeral structure is described by Kababie as a built testament to what local people felt in the aftermath of the quakes. “It creates an experience based on what we felt when everything was demolished,” explains Kababie. The structure itself was the very first built project for Colectivo Seis, who are only in their second year of college. As the story goes, on the first night of building the pavilion, the students and Kababie assembled the bricks made by a local factory and craftsman. The bricks themselves are made from locally-sourced clay, baked, and dried. Initially, they tried laying each brick one by one. Eventually, they made a rig that allowed them to stack eight bricks at a time. What took six hours to build on the first day took only one hour on the second. The trace of their handiwork lingers, with the red ochre-hued dust marking anyone who enters the pavilion. From the outside, the pavilion looks fortress-like, a cubic construction of six tiers of stacked brick on all four sides. Visitors were invited in by Kababie and the students through the periwinkle Masonite door into a narrow, tubular passageway. Once inside, onlookers are pleasantly surprised to find an undulating series of brick laid out to form the negative space of a circular sphere, or, if you will, an inverted oculus. The stacked formation encourages sitting and climbing, as well as spectacular views of the heart of Mexico City. Aptly dubbed, Pabellón ( ) is formally a parenthesis. Conceptually, it is a theoretical interpretation of the meaning of “collapse,” what students from Colectivo Seis described as the continuum of material and emotional rubble that was left behind after the quake. These experiences are collectively housed between the empty parentheses, the material manifestation of the symbolic namesake, the pavilion. “It’s a metaphor for the current situation. When you have this perfect brick wall that when you walk outside, you don't realize that there’s a greater structure, an emptiness that came about through the earthquakes. It’s still there and it hasn’t been fixed. We wanted this to be a point to talk about those aspects of our lives and that is still going on and many of us don’t realize it,” explained Alonso Varela of Collectivo Seis. This collective experience is not only expressed in concept, but also in practice. Kababie proudly reflects on their experience as completely collaborative, a project completed by a group from beginning to end as a group. “Having that extraordinary shared journey, the idea of idea of changing the conversation through bricks, through a situation, with a door that you go through, in a specific place as a specific project—it was an amazing idea.” You can find more videos of Mextropoli, Pabellón ( ), interviews, and other footage of the festival as a story highlight on AN's Instagram story highlights.