Mexico City-based architect Frida Escobedo has been handed the 2016 AR Emerging Architecture prize worth £10,000
The judges, which included Valerio Olgiati, Benedetta Tagliabue and Charles Holland, were impressed by Escobedo’s dramatic remodelling of a former artist’s studio in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
Escobedo, who founded her practice in 2006, transformed the live-work space of the late Mexican muralist and political activist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s (1896-1974) into a new museum, La Tallera Siqueiros.
The scheme involved the demolition of a perimeter wall and the opening up of the previously private patio onto a public square.
A pair of giant Siqueiros murals, once housed inside the courtyard so that only glances of them could be caught from the street, are now displayed at the entrance, facing outward ’like arms wide open’ and inviting people to wander in.
Escobedo’s proposal for La Tallera was chosen while she was applying for a master’s degree at Harvard – where she studied ‘art, design in the public domain’.
The award judges also gave a highly commended to the Garden of Forking Paths pavilion in Santiago by Chilean practice Beals Lyon, described by the judges as a ’delicate and playful reinterpretation of the labyrinth, where voids become spaces for contemplation and leisure’.
The awards were handed out at a ceremony in London’s Barbican Centre on Tuesday (26 September).
La Tallera Siqueiros - an appreciation
Frida Escobedo recalls sitting and observing the life inside the apartment blocks across the street from the hospital while waiting for her father to finish his day’s work. ‘It’s about how the inhabitants appropriate space with colours and textures,’ she says to explain her fascination, since childhood, for the relationship between people and places. And as much as she can, she attempts to encourage people to engage with her work.
When transforming late Mexican muralist and political activist David Alfaro Siqueiros’s live-work space into a new museum, La Tallera, for the small Mexican city of Cuernavaca, taking down the perimeter wall enabled Escobedo to open up the previously private patio to the public and connect it to the adjacent open square. Two of the painter’s gigantic murals, initially placed inside the courtyard so that only glances of them could be caught from the street, are now proudly displayed at the entrance, facing outward like arms wide open and inviting people to wander in.
Tallera floor plans
‘Rotating the mural ignites the symbolic elements of the facade’s architectural syntax, altering the typical relationship between gallery and visitor,’ explains Escobedo. The aim is to merge public space with cultural institution, turning this new venue into a lively museum, workshop, artist and research residency, and meeting point for the production and criticism of art.
The different volumes of the complex are all encased in an envelope of perforated triangular concrete blocks. While the museum staff appreciates the electricity savings generated by the abundant natural light permeating the perforated blocks, the architect speaks of ‘authenticity’ – the importance of showing materials, whether raw or sophisticated, as they are.
Her proposal for La Tallera was chosen while Escobedo was applying for a master’s degree at Harvard – where she studied ‘art, design in the public domain’. She finds projects particularly exciting when they blur the boundaries between art and architecture and enjoys ‘working on totally different types of projects at the same time, to let them feed off each other’ – she tries to stick to Kersten Geers’ advice, ‘stay slippery’.
La Tallera Siqueiros
Architect: Frida Escobedo Architecture Studio
Project team: Frida Escobedo, Rodolfo Díaz Cervantes, Adrian Moreau, Adiranne Montemayor, Fernando Cabrera
Photographs: Rafael Gamo