Project description by jury
El Tepozán is a new space designed for arts and crafts education. Borne from collaboration between the architects and the Tierra Adentro Cultural Mission Foundation that owns the land, the art village provides a safe and creative environment where the people of Canalejas, 100km northeast of Mexico City can meet, work, learn and produce art. The architecture establishes a synergy with the landscape and makes the site an attractive place especially for young locals to whom new cultural and leisure opportunities are offered.
The master plan of the area includes different types of buildings that vary according to site topography. The design is largely inspired by vernacular techniques that enrich the sustainability profile of the project. Traditional jagüeyes (large pools) are used to collect and distribute water, high-thermal-inertia walls can naturally regulate the thermal environment while permeable structures allow for natural ventilation during the hottest days. The use of local materials and traditional construction methods are part of the circular economy strategy of the project.
The LafargeHolcim Awards jury Latin America enthusiastically welcomed the idea of a building complex that showcases new opportunities for the young generation’s future by providing spaces to learn and stay connected with the arts. The openness of the spaces was found coherent with the program that is the basis of the project, which requires a high level of flexibility to serve the community at its best. Besides the social and educational merit, the jury applauded the way the project engages in sustainability under other aspects. From an environmental perspective, the meaningful integration with the landscape as well as the use of materials from the region and the adoption of bioclimatic strategies was highly commended. The incremental construction concept for the complex to match the erratic financial availabilities was also considered a good strategy to ensure economic viability.See more
As a Main category prize winner in the regional Holcim Awards 2020, Creative Space in Mexico automatically qualified as a finalist in the Global Holcim Awards 2021.
El Tepozán is a new campus designed for arts and crafts education. It provides a safe and creative environment where the citizens of Canalejas can meet, work, learn, and produce art. The architecture employs vernacular design strategies, which enhances the sustainability profile of the project. “We use local materials, vernacular knowledge, long-established construction methods, and traditional water-storage systems,” says Emmanuel Ramírez Ruiz of Estudio MMX, Mexico City, Mexico. “The building’s design is flexible enough to grow and transform in time, to be used and reused in many different ways.” The jury found the openness of the spaces well suited to the program – resulting in a high level of flexibility to best serve the community over the long term.Read more » Más información (Spanish) »
Opportunities - Empowerment tools for the local youth
This is not an architectural project - but an educational one. The creation of spaces where kids can grow in contact with art and creation remains fundamental for the NGO behind the project. Canalejas stands in the center of a municipality that has lost its youth due to migration and drug trafficking and has lost its possibility to be sustained by a magnificent handcraft tradition (stone sculpture). Providing diffusion of their artistic creations could be a way to recover through local, ancient knowledge. This artistic and educational congregation site arises from the sum of efforts of both architects and the foundation who owns the land. The program was not pre-conceived but was the conclusion of a territorial approach focused on looking at how to help and positively impact the region as a whole.
Material Matters - Design communicates thinking
Vernacular architecture should not be forced to look like vernacular. While keeping all the positive traits of the traditional constructions and recognizing the material and spatial strategies that are born from the site, contemporary rural architecture has the fundamental task to take the spatial narrative into another plateau - One in which space can communicate novel alternatives and more suitable futures for the people that experience these spaces - The use of traditional materials and construction methods and systems allows circular economies and can function as the recognizable constituent parts of new living conditions. The existing and new vegetation areas are one of the main material components for the blurring and integration of the vernacular into the rural.
Time - It takes time for architecture to become “real"
An ambitious project like this has to incorporate time necessarily. The general proposal considers steps that respond to the foundation's capacity to gather the financial resources and the operational costs but, more importantly, the chance to test, gradually, the implementation of both architecture and the program of spaces that allow maximum flexibility in order to achieve transformation and growth. The proposal explores time in operational terms: the privilege of any resource should be always acknowledged through intelligent strategies that focus on the longevity and self-sufficiency of the built environment. Lasting structures that are thought for intensive and communal uses minimize the negative impact of construction while maximizing the positive benefits of the architecture.See more
The selection for the location of the projects responds to an extensive analysis of the regional functioning and the narrow circumstances of the region. Canalejas is strategically chosen as a place which makes it more efficient, transport wise, the educational offer of the center. While the projects incorporate pre-Hispanic infrastructures (“hagueyes”) to collect, store and distribute water and architectural structures that help to avoid the use of mechanical ventilation or heating, probably the CO2 primary reduction is peripheral to the project itself and resides in the emission reductions that result from the territorial positioning of the cultural center which allows to greatly reduce the transportation emissions at the regional scale.
A building complex well integrated in the landscape of Canalejas to provide young generations with new cultural and …
Author comment by Ignacio del Río Francos and Emmanuel Ramírez Ruiz of Estudio MMX in Mexico City on Creative Space in Mexico …
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