LANDSCAPE IN MOTION
Starting from the questioning, can architecture be imagined from the landscape?
We believe that the architecture-landscape relationship has ceased to be that of the figure-ground dichotomy and has come to be understood as a joint and active system directly related to action, which is capable of responding to the dynamics of territorial processes and in the in which various situations are carried out that allow us to understand cultural, social, political, economic processes as well as natural processes as part of the same dynamic ecosystem, thus allowing it to be considered as a continuous network of interrelations.
In this way we have come to understand landscape and architecture as a dialectical and unfinished relationship where each intervention can contribute to this dialogue and its processes. We have decided to place our actions in what we consider to represent a part of the Mexican agave landscape: the Oaxacan territory of Valles Centrales, which has recently acquired the name “Ruta del mezcal”. Here are traces of multiple natural and human processes that have been transforming the landscape over time, from the primitive domestication of teosinte or corn, food of the Americas, to the explosive boom in the production of mezcal that has gone from being primarily a drink. sagrada, later an artisan liquor and currently an internationally demanded drink, putting pressure on their traditional production systems, putting the balance and sustainability of the ecosystem at risk.
This phenomenon has become particularly relevant in a small community of 2000 inhabitants called Xaagá, where the remains of what was an old agavera farm can be found. This in turn was founded on a pre-Hispanic tomb around which stands what was once the work yard. From the colonial settlement in this area and the forms of production generated by the work of the hacienda, it is when the town is properly formed. Currently, and due to the demand for agave harvesting territories for mezcal, Xaagá is at a critical turning point in which it can become a sustainable productive landscape or become one more monoculture and overexploitation territory.
Emphasizing the intrinsic relationship that exists between nature and culture, we know that even the freest, wildest or most deprived landscapes are, when we look at them closely, a product of culture and this in turn is a response to it. And this is how we have proposed three interventions with the aim of generating articulating spaces between the landscape and the community that allow us to protect and enhance the history and identity, the productive and cultural processes of action and transformation, and the biodiversity of the natural landscapes of the region.
Old Hacienda Agavera
On the helmet of the old Hacienda agavera, a rehabilitation is proposed with the principle of minimal intervention allowing to conserve the cultural contributions of each era that has witnessed. From the pre-Hispanic tomb with its stone friezes, an authentic example of the Zapotec worldview, the architecture of the town of the hacienda and its found artifacts, typical of the agave works of the time to the small contemporary contributions, the old Hacienda becomes a witness place of memory, a moving landscape.
House of the Agavero
The creation of a Casa del Agavero is also proposed, a space dedicated to cultural action and production, preservation of ancestral knowledge and innovation in sustainable transformation processes. Using local materials and techniques that have become traditional such as adobe or the Catalan vault, flexible and multipurpose spaces are generated (capable of adapting to the possible circumstantial transformations of activities that the community may require) that allow the development of workshops related to the processes for the production and transformation of agave and related species. La Casa del Agavero works by seeking local human development and allowing openness to global knowledge.
The Xaagá viewpoint stands on a promontory to the west of the town from where it is possible to admire the extensive farmland, the villages and the mountains that protect the valleys. As a double helix spiral, a double man-nature and nature-man approach is suggested that reveals the interdependence that exists between them and their manifestations on the landscape, trying to generate a dialogue and a critical vision towards current production processes. Through the use of materials directly extracted from the agavera production, the viewpoint is also a manifesto about the ephemerality and transience of the traces we leave in the natural landscape and it in ourselves.
Félix Candela Award 2020.
Members: Byron Cadena, Diego Ledesma and José Morales.
July 2020. Zaaga, Oaxaca, Mexico.