Atelier ARS° lecture

May 14, 2015

Recorded: March 19, 2015

The Architectural League’s Emerging Voices program annually spotlights North American architects, landscape architects, and urban designers who have significant bodies of realized work and the potential to influence their field.

Alejandro Guerrero and Andrea Soto of ATELIER ARSº are 2015 winners of the award.

ATELIER ARSº draws on historical references, architectural precedents, and traditional building techniques, believing “a good building [is] a record of a relevant tradition.” Founded in 2000 and led by principals Alejandro Guerrero and Andrea Soto, the Guadalajara-based firm combines a reconsideration of modernism with a deep appreciation for local craftsmanship.

The pair presents their Emerging Voices lecture as a manifesto in ten points that reveals their commitment to the universal principles of architecture, modifying historical precedents to create original, profound forms. They detail six recent projects in Mexico, beginning with three residential buildings — SMO House, House with 7 Courtyards, and House and Studio in Mar Chapálico — that highlight and complement the natural environment, reinterpreting modernist typologies in a contemporary language. The Levering Trade building expresses the beauty of industrial architecture through its tectonic expression, with a steel frame, sawtooth structure that includes details such as a woven palm handrail. The ongoing NOVASEM masterplan treats buildings as abstract solid volumes in the landscape to create new spatial relationships between building and nature. The TID Annex at ITESO University, a model fabrication space for architecture students, considers air as an “essential material” in a building with a steel frame infilled with wooden louvers. The form has a “strong presence” despite no piece having a decorative purpose. Collectively, the firm’s projects evoke the structural clarity and forms of modernism, but instead of nostalgic revival they connect with nature and incorporate the handmade to create contemporary spaces.

Recorded: March 19, 2015

ATELIER ARS°’s work has been exhibited in the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2014, the AB initio exhibition at the Chancellery Palace in Mexico City, and the Traces of Centuries and Future Steps exhibitions at the Venice Biennale in 2012. The firm has been published internationally in GlocalMéxico DESIGNPisoFutureInterni, Phaidon AtlasDOMUS, and ArchDaily. Guerrero received his M.Arch from the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura de Barcelona. He is currently a professor at Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente (ITESO) and the director of INTERTECTONICS, a course at Centro para la Cultura Arquitectónica y Urbana. Soto received her bachelor’s degree in architecture from ITESO with exchange studies at the University of San Francisco.