While we will be based in buildings designed by Edward James in the middle of the Gardens of Las Pozas during our workshop as well as surrounding sites, our primary aim is not to reproduce the Surrealist endeavours of James, but rather to use it as one of the precedents in our Visiting School, especially with regarding to his formwork techniques, ambition and medium, namely experimentation in concrete.
For that purpose we will start our trip by a crash course in Mexican history of art and architecture, spanning thousand years in four days, looking at the essential pre-hispanic historical sites around Mexico City as well as the best of the modernist masterworks in architecture that we will use as precedents and inspiration for our workshop.
Matthew Holmes, Director of Las Pozas and AA Alumni, has generously invited us to stay for the second part of our trip within the Las Pozas Gardens for our meetings, workshops and experimentations. Staying there last summer for our research was a most peculiar architectural experience, staying among buildings that were almost designed as future ruins to be overgrown by their surroundings. We will also collaborate in the mapping and discuss the planning of potential future sites inside and outside of Las Pozas Garden.
MOULDS & FORMWORKS
Our workshop in Las Pozas will commence with a dissection and thorough study of Edward James’ formworks through the mediums of photography, digital and hand drawing, collage and abstract physical models.
While the existing concrete forms are mainly based on abstraction often derived from natural forms found in nature, which lead to the array of organic sculptures, we would only emulate from nature more abstractly by looking at texture and aggregate. The formal approach will derive from a series of modernist studies and architectural types and elements, while combining these with geometric abstraction derived rescaling details and elements of existing building types and details.
This workshop focuses on abstract form finding through the relation of the positive and negative, mould and form, in both in its practical aspects and consequences.
AGGREGATES AND CONCRETE MUTATIONS
While we are looking into new forms and casting techniques, we will also consider exploring modular formworks and looking at the mobility and foldability of elements. In terms of concrete we will be doing rammed concrete, and working with a variety of experimental aggregates, forming new types of terrazzo and other industrial and organic aggregates like in the tests pictured below.
An open workshop will be set up in our site in the jungle to perform our concrete experimentations. This will allow us to be in direct contact with the materials, aggregates, textures and casting techniques that will inform the direction of our 1:1 concrete intervention.
Experiments of texture and aggregate that will be developed during the Visiting School. In this case they are organic and industrial refuse materials including cables and metals trimmings.
Roof courtyard at Casa Barragan
Rammed Concrete Modular Wall by Umberto Bellardi Ricci
Large scale concrete sculptures of Ruta de la Amistad, commissioned for the Mexico 68 Olympics