“Estoa”: A New Entrance to the Udem University Campus | The Plan
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“Estoa”: A New Entrance to the Udem University Campus

The Singular and the Plural

Tatiana Bilbao

All architecture is in some sense a system. Some works of architecture are singular objects: perfectly formed and resolved; isolated, perhaps, or insulated from everyday life; “the tomb and the monument” as indicated by Adolf Loos a century or more ago.
Other works of architecture are plural: assembled from multiple parts; able to incorporate diverse agendas; open-ended to accommodate mutating context and program.

The architecture of Tatiana Bilbao operates in a fertile territory between these poles of the singular and the plural. As with certain projects, Bilbao can privilege a big geometric move as a signifier of centrality and architectural ambition. In other cases, such as Casa Ventura on the hills above Monterrey (THE PLAN 067), a flexible module expands and contracts empirically, a cellular organism with spatial and material legibility.

Bilbao’s new building for the University of Monterrey (UDEM) is her third-to-date in the northern Mexican metropolis. Casa Ventura was followed by Los Terrenos, a small habitation of three pavilions clad in glass that updates classic notions of the Primitive Hut for our contemporary age. With 110,000 sq. m of contained space (versus 200 sq. m at Los Terrenos), Bilbao’s UDEM project is very much bigger. Nevertheless, it exhibits similar attitudes to site and topography, to geometries formal and informal, and to the potential for component units to form a greater whole.

The site is adjacent to Tadao Ando’s “Gate of Creation”, a monumental structure by the Japanese master in raw concrete, his signature material. Officially known as Centro Roberto Garza Sada, it hosts interdisciplinary studios and functions as a ceremonial gateway to the campus. Bilbao’s building - known as Estoa, as in the ancient Greek stoa - is in counterpoint to Ando’s. It is as much a work of landscape and infrastructure as it is a building in the orthodox...

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