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Photography workshop iturbide studio

Poetic and Mathematical

Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo |

These narrow backstreets in Coyoacán maintain still, despite the rampant development of Mexico City all around, a feeling of neighborhood, an ease and scale more reminiscent of a provincial town than of a contemporary metropolis. This is very much a constructed world with community life inhabiting the street. The lanes switch and turn frequently, and in unexpected ways, such that first-time visitors may wonder if they have wandered inside a labyrinth. To either side, homes and small business premises advance right up to their property lines to offer glimpses of everyday life through open doors and behind inserts of screen or blind or railing. It is robust, yet also intimate. We turn into a lane charmingly named Cerrada de Heliotropo (“turning with the sun”) and are faced with a curious façade, a narrow three-story-high palisade composed almost entirely of orange-red bricks stacked both vertically and horizontally. On closer inspection, the vertical bricks are thicker and are set at angles to the overall mass; at various angles in fact, allowing sunlight on occasion to seep through. In the corners, every second horizontal plane extends to the boundary of the lot where the vertical bricks are recessed to create little pockets of re-entrant space. Then you notice some insertions of steel plate and of rebar, discreet reinforcements in the horizontal and vertical planes respectively. There is something simultaneously ordinary and mathematical in this façade. The humble brick is arranged according to principles of modular assembly and abstract composition. There are no other materials; there is nothing added or superimposed to achieve an “interesting” or “beautiful” elevation. When we learn that the architects are Taller | Mauricio Rocha + Gabriela Carrillo |, we are less surprised by this fusion of the vernacular and the conceptual. Their project exhibits a characteristic concern for local methods of...

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